Children of the Greek Civil War: Refugees and the Politics of Memory

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Please review our Terms and Conditions of Use and check box below to share full-text version of article. It is particularly encouraging to read this book at the present moment, when the Greek and Macedonian sides involved in the controversy concerning the memory of the evacuation of refugee children of the Greek Civil War lay claim with nationalist fervor to an absolute truth about suffering and victimhood and produce authoritative national narratives.

The multiple voices presented in this book eloquently illustrate the complexity and ambiguity of the refugee experience, and can thus help undermine the potency of nationalist perspectives and resolve a long-lasting and seemingly intractable dispute. But let me begin at the beginning. In the first part of the book, Histories , Danforth and Van Boeschoten present the larger historical context in which the two Greek evacuation programs unfolded.

Although EAM consented to participate in a government of national unity and place ELAS forces under the command of British General Scobie in September , polarization between the political left and the anti-communist, royalist right continued to grow.

Children of the Greek Civil War: Refugees and the Politics of Memory

The persecution of the left continued, especially after the right won the elections of and a national referendum sanctioned the return of King George II to the throne, and played a key role in the eruption of civil war. The Democratic Party of Greece, established by leaders of the Communist Party, kept to its stronghold in the mountainous regions of northern Greece.

During the Civil War, the partisans evacuated approximately 20, children to Eastern Europe and the Greek government under the auspices of Queen Frederica of the Hellenes sent Project MUSE promotes the creation and dissemination of essential humanities and social science resources through collaboration with libraries, publishers, and scholars worldwide. These areas, sparsely populated due to the German expulsion, were considered not only safe, but also according to the KKE, similar to Northern Greece.

Loring Danforth,Riki van Boeschoten and Dimitrios Ioannou in Macedonia

For several weeks we were reconstructing and cleaning houses left behind by the expulsed Germans, which were meant to accommodate our families. Once we prepared these homes, we helped out in the local agricultural cooperative. Then in January about 50 of us men who were able to work left for Vidnava, where we began work in a brickyard.

None of us knew a craft, so we did various hard manual jobs. Do you see these calluses? I still have them from that time. Although the first generation of refugees were uneducated peasants, many of them soon managed to learn the Czech language and adapt to their new lifestyle.

Children of the Greek Civil War: Refugees and the Politics of Memory, Danforth, Van Boeschoten

Most of them, like Vasilis, were first put to work in the agricultural sector, but some of them moved to agglomeration centers in order to earn a better living in the industrial sector. The majority of their children subsequently studied at universities and later found prestigious professions. Georgios, who arrived in Czechoslovakia with his family as a child, reflects on his career as surgeon and head of the department. Yet only about 1, to 2, Greek Civil War refugees in Czechoslovakia were party members. Moreover, loosing Greek citizenship meant losing the right to return to the homeland, therefore Greeks rarely applied for Czechoslovak citizenship.

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His expulsion divided refugees into his supporters and supporters of the new leader Konstantinos Koligiannis The next split occurred in after the Prague Spring, when party leadership supported the Soviet invasion against the majority of refugees led by Dimitris Partsalidis They were so fanatic because they put their hearts into it. They were not only some fights, of course they felt it. And they were abroad, therefore it was even stronger.

The Greek refugees also had to deal with strong tensions between the Greek and Slavophone communities. At first the common experience of the civil war, expatriation, desire to return home and KKE policies kept Slavomakedonians and Greeks together. In April , the Slavomakedonian political organization, Ilinden , was established in Poland as a successor to the Macedonian Liberation Front Narodnoosloboditelen front , NOF , which was banned after ; but the Greek and Czechoslovak authorities perceived Ilinden with the same suspicion.

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Play it one more time and I will take your Greek travel documentation away! In , after repeat interventions by Czechoslovak officials in KKE leadership, Ilinden was dissolved.

Refugees and the Politics of Memory

Since the beginning, Greek communist leaders reassured the refugees in the Eastern Bloc countries that their stay there was only temporary and that they would soon return to their homeland. No one thought that they would live in exile for more than two decades and that their children would grow up in a foreign country. Maybe at one time we were very small, when we arrived, people were thinking for a long time, for five, six, ten years, that it will be like this. Then they stopped thinking that.