Tragedies of the abducted Greek children of 1948: the reality of the FYROM claims (Macedonia, Greece)
Tragedies of the abducted Greek children of 1948: the reality of the FYROM claims (Macedonia, Greece)
It was in the month of November 61 years ago when the United Nations issued a resolution condemning the abduction of the Greek children. The text of the resolution and its context have been presented in my last article. The tragic stories of the abducted children that follow defy belief.
Last week a conference took place at the University of Utah, sponsored by the United Pseudo-Macedonia Diaspora (UMD), a lobby group campaigning against “Greek atrocities” in Cyprus and other out of touch with reality issues. There was a display of venom the revisionism of history condoned by segments of the FYROM government and media. An eye-witness in the audience attempted to speak about her experience during the child abductions, probably the only person in the entire conference with any real experience from their own lives. The response from one of the Yugoslav speakers was:
“This poor woman had probably been drawn into a Greek family or circle years before, and in order to keep peace in the family had decided to play dumb when it came to her linguistic and ethnic identity. To an outsider it appeared to be quite the sad spectacle, for her Greek handlers to parade her out at an academic conference as some sort of living proof of the non-existence of her mother tongue and ethnicity.”
It defies belief that a people recently freed from Communism continue to otherwise believe that it is the rest of the world that has been brainwashed and go to such extreme extents of inverting reality to reassure themselves an their audience of this belief. Prof Christos D. Katsetos, MD, Dr philos, FRC Path, subsequently sent a letter of protest to the University of Utah commenting:
“I submit that Mrs. Damopoulou was denied at the University of Utah conference the common courtesy of being heard and respected as a member of the Greek Macedonian community and also as a credible eyewitness – by virtue of being a young victim of involuntary evacuation and forced migration during the Greek Civil War (1946-49).
Indeed, what Irene Damopoulou-Karatzios has recently experienced, both during and after the conference, is precisely the kind of dehumanization and disentitlement that is considered as one of the basic psychological substrates underlying the perpetuation of ethnic conflicts.”
The children´s tragedies
Georgios Manoukas was the General Inspector of the 1946 Child Gathering (Paidomazoma) and also a former member of KKE (Greek communist Party). He returned disillusioned to Greece during the amnesty period in 1961 and published a book on the child abductions called Paidomazoma (Child Gathering, The Great Crime against our People, Georgios Manoukas, 1961). In it he examines Cominform policy towards the children and concludes that the Yugoslav government (Tito) falsified the numbers of these children, integrated them into the population of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and acculturated them into the new “Macedonian” culture. Some children were trained and sent back to Greece to fight, indeed as janissaries.
One of the five-member council during the child abduction era was a Slav Macedonian from Greece named Sikavitsas. This person according to Manoukas was responsible for the Slavophone Greek children. In the so-called Mountain Government of KKE were also two Greek Slavophone “ministers”. Their names were Metrovsky and Stavro Kocev. They visited those children that were Slavophone and aimed at the elimination of their use of the Greek language. Their lectures used terms such as “Macedonian autonomy”, saying “Greece was a creation of the Big Powers” (like Risto Stefov does today), claiming that “Slavic Macedonians were the only descendants of the ancient Macedonians”, using language such as “freedom to the occupied Aegean Macedonia from the monarchofasists”, the same language we hear from the children of some of the FYROMacedonian expatriates today.
Below are some passages from his book:
On page 57, Manoukas refers to a FYROMacedonian volunteer who was fighting in Greece. He heard from him, apparently for the first time, that “the Aegean Macedonia begins in a place in Yugoslavia and includes places in modern Albania, Bulgaria and Greek Macedonia while in depth it reaches to about Mt Olympus! This Slav was not illiterate. He was rather well tutored.”
On page 107, George Manoukas explains the response of the Communist Block parties to the request from the United Nations for the repatriation of the Greek children. Representatives from the communist parties of several countries gave speeches and promises to the Greek Communist Party about the return of the children in a meeting held in Prespa (where the KKE government in exile was located, in modern FYROM) on the 29.2.1949, after calls from the United Nations for the return of the abducted children. The speeches show what kind of response there was among communist countries regarding the unanimous call from the UN for the return of the abducted children to Greece.
Lili Olt, Communist Party of Hungary: “The GREEK children we are hosting in our country are the best example of support for your struggle”.
Zenova, Communist Party of Czechoslovakia: “We will return the GREEK children we are hosting in our country once they are grown up and educated”.
Anna Roubou, Romania : “The children we are hosting will be returned to you after Victory!” – so were they hostages?
Zaboteska Stanislava, Communist Party of Poland: “We educate your children according to the example of your heroes, like Mitsos Paparrigas. We believe that your children, our children, are children of the great family of peoples. We will return them to you after final freedom and people´s democracy”.
Bito-Karo of the Communist party of Albania: “We found your children pale when they came to our country. We opened our arms and embraced them.”
The General Secretary [unfortunately not named] of the so-called NOF/SNOF, the so called National Liberation front for Macedonia said: “today we can proclaim an independent Peoples Republic of Macedonia that will be part of the Balkan Peoples´ Republics. The central council of NOF assures the Greek people that it will maintain unity between the Greek and Slavomacedonian people, because of our common aim: freedom – independence”.
Independence of the Greeks from the Greeks? In any case note, this fanatical man used the term Slavomacedonian not Macedonian. Modern FYROM has pushed this kind of extremism further. The Slavomacedonians of 1949 communist propaganda have become the “Macedonians” of modern FYROM> this was clear from Nikola Gruevski´s speech in Australia mentioned in my previous article (http://www.americanchronicle.com/articles/view/128244).
But how ridiculous. This is the response of the communist parties of Europe to the request for the return of the Greek children! Indeed Manoukas says the representatives of the Greek communists Mpartzotas and Kokkalis (KKE), and Papadimitris (AKE) vowed to intensify the abductions! And now the Skopians speak of a Greek atrocity: the expulsion of 28000 children from Greece.
Manoukas next explains the ways in which the Communist Block tried to avoid returning the children to their parents.
“The task of the Greek Red Cross was exceedingly difficult.
On the one hand the communists unleashed in this regard and on orders of the KKE an unforeseen campaign of terrorism, so that the gathering of applications (by parents for the return of the children) could be discouraged, as well as any expression of a desire for the repatriation of the children.
On the other hand, the KKE, with the aim to have favourable concessions from the parents for the commission of the children to the Communist Block, gave orders to communist commissars to tour the regions held by the communists to obtain in every possible way favourable declarations from parents about their “willing” surrender of their children.
It is obvious that this policy of extortion was designed not only so as to reveal a great number of parents who “willingly agreed” to the surrender of their children, but to shake through fear the will of many parents so that, were they to be called in the future to express their wish for the childrens´ return to refuse to do so, for fear of reprisals.”
Manoukas mentions that many parents had fled as far as Crete or the Peloponnese seeking safety. Then he adds:
“Many of the parents had been forcibly recruited by the “symmorites” and therefore it was not possible to have expressions of a desire for the return of their children.
But the most terrible of all was the fact that, because of executions by the symmorites of a great number of individuals, the natural guardians of the children were no longer in live and it was exceedingly difficult to find and determine which among the relatives were the nearest to the children so that they may have the right to apply for the return of the children according to the UN directive.”
Further down Manoukas says how the KKE tried to avoid returning the children. One excuse they devised was that if they received an application from only one parent, they would reply that the child or children could not be returned because there was no agreement of the parents for their return.
On page 34, Manoukas describes a heart-rending story of the abduction of five children, brothers and sisters:
On Feb 14th, 1950, an announcement had been made in Greek from Bucharest in response to requests from the Voice of America for the return of the abducted children to Greece:
“The Voice of America cannot stomach the fact that 28,000 Greek children and Slav Macedonians were transported to the Peoples´ Republics with the full accord of their parents. These children will continue to live there according to the wish of their parents, will be educated in their own language and national spirit and will learn a trade…”
“Here is an example of the agreement of a family to send their children to the Iron Curtain to be “educated in their own language and national spirit and to learn a trade”. The village schoolteacher in Zerma in 1947 was one named Mitsis. I do not know if he is still living. He had a wife and five children.
Budapest, August 1949. We had our base in Budapest. In August 1949 I was supervisor of the Central Office and “Inspector” again of the Paidomazoma. One day Yiannis, the colleague in charge of censorship says to me: “Comrade, a letter has arrived and it appears to be suspicious from beginning to end. Read it so that we may see what this fascist says”.
I took the “suspicious letter”, put it in my pocket and continued my work. In the afternoon after I had finished, I went by the Danube and I sat somewhere, watching the murky water of the Danube that flowed quietly. There I remembered the letter of the “fascist” I had in my pocket. I took it out, I saw it was well written and scanned to the bottom of it to see who was writing. I saw then it was from Mitsis, the schoolteacher of Zerma. What does he want – I thought to myself. What business does he have with us? And, my God, the wretched man wanted to know where his children were, where is his little one, whether he cries for his father and mother and whether they are all together, “Whether Spyridoula takes care of you” … and “try to find where your mother is because I do not know”. I read it over and over again. I remembered it was his Encyclopedia that we had confiscated and he was one our men were hunting and wanted to kill.
I went back to my office. I started browsing through the “registers” to see in which country were his children, because the letter said he had many. Five children!
I was glad to find they were in Hungary, and some indeed in Budapest. I thought to go immediately to find one of them , to give him the letter with his father´s kisses… but then I remembered about their mother. I had to find in which country she was, to put them in contact with each other so as to make them happy, the poor little souls.
I went through all the “registers´. I found nowhere the wife of the wretched schoolteacher. I began to curse the commissaries of the various countries for their insufficient records!!
I left my office and went to the Children´s Town. It was late and they were asleep. I returned to my room, but I could not rest!Next day I returned to the Children´s Town. I found one of them, a little girl and without letting her suspect that I had a letter, I began to ask: Where is your father? Your mother? Your siblings? And the little girl said to me: “My father stayed in Greece, I do not know where and if he is alive. Myself, my sister and a brother are here, I do not know about the other two. We do not know where our mother is. She may be in one of the countries. Because when the men took us and we asked for our mother, because we did not want to leave without her, they told us that we will find her here. “She has already left, she is ahead of you” they told us. I turned to leave when I heard again the little girl say: “Comrade, go see where our mother is and tell us! We have a year and a half to see her and we long for her, we are as orphans. Why, comrade, the men tricked us? Where is our mother? “
I was not satisfied by the little girl. She did not know much and so I went to find men and women from the region of Konitsa to find the end of this case.
And I found it! But what did I find! When I found out my legs and my arms trembled from the emotion. They informed me that the men shot the children’s mother near her village. That when the children were taken she was already dead. The children did not know. Neither their father! And the little one was waiting for me to come by the Children´s Town again, to tell her in which country(!) is her mother! Our men had taken care of her in the ravines of their village! And the children? The Party “took care” of them. And here “not even one child has been taken by force!…” What would the Communist Party of Greece claim? And what the criminal voice from Bucharest?”
An article in Eleftherotypia of 17/07/2003 tells the story of 13 villagers who were abducted as children by the communist guerillas:
“In the bleak city hall of Kozane, a northern Greek mountain town, 13 peasants stood before a U. N. field team. The peasants had been hostages of General Markos Vafiades’ communist andartes. In the mixed Greek-Slav-Albanian dialect of the Macedonian border people, they haltingly told their story.
Black-shawled Athena Papalexiou, 50, spoke first. “All children between 3 and 14 were being registered by the andartes,” she said. The rebels had told the parents that the children would be sent to good homes in the Slav “democracies.” “Would the children come back again?” asked an investigator. “It was forbidden to discuss the matter,” replied Athena.
John Natsis and Zagarus Voiliotis had been billeted with a widower in Kranies, in the rebel-controlled northwest corner of Greece. They had watched the widower give the names and ages of his three children to a rebel officer and a clerk. “They told him he must be glad that his children would be taken away to the safety of other countries,” said the two peasants. “They said soon the Monarcho-Fascists would bomb Kranies, and in Romania his children would receive a good education.””
Manoukas reveals the anger expressed by this crime worldwide in chapter VII of the book. A British professor Animbus wrote a letter to the United nations saying:
“Hell itself could not labour a plan more satanic. This heinous crime that defies description, was accompanied by cynical comments transmitted by the Albanian Radio Station, as well as the radio stations of Bulgaria, Hungary, Romania, for the “warm” and “loving” welcome, which was extended to the innocent little victims in the capitals of these countries.. They were abducted to be tutored to hate their parents, their religion and their homeland as their common cultural inheritance. There is danger that these unfortunate young souls will be lost forever and if they ever return they may act as offspring of “snakes” against the breast of their motherland. Thousands of Greek children, abducted by the red criminals who added the tragedy of their heinous child abduction to the terrible crime against their homeland, are facing the terror and abomination of Soviet totalitarianism and are under inhuman pressure to change their national consciousness and to become enemies of their homeland.”
In the National conference for the Protection of Children in Stockholm, August 1948, a unanimous declaration was made (I translate from Manoukas):
“The General Council of the International Union for the Protection of Children which met in Stockholm on 14-8-1948, informed that a considerable number of Greek children were abducted from their homeland without the consent of their parents and considering that such an act is an outright violation of the principles of the Declaration for the Rights of the Child, the so-called “Geneva Declaration”. Resolves:
1. That the United Nations work to find the proper means such that the return to their homes of all the children that are held from their parents against their wish is achieved at the soonest time possible.
2. That the International Union for Child Protection offer their services, in coordination with other organizations, so that care may be provided to these children, wherever they may be.
3. That the United Nations may be requested to take measures such that the children of all nationalities may be protected against the violent transfer and detention far from their homeland without the consent of their parents”
A diplomat who visited a Children´s Station in Hungary and afterwards wrote in the newspaper Greek Star (16 May 1950): “I was accompanied by an official who spoke Greek to the camp at BALATON FURE. The official talked to a young boy who, when he heard his mother tongue brightened up and started to talk in Greek. But a bigger child then came and pulled the little one by the hand and said that he must not disobey the orders, to speak Greek and in actual fact to foreigners…”
“They understand very well that, if they teach to the Greek children their false philosophy, their task in the world will be much easier”.
K. George Christojaher in a radio interview in San Francisco.
“The Greek children were transported beyond the borders to be raised as communists and to be educated in communist schools, in an atmosphere of hate, so that when they grow up they return well armed against their fatherland”.
From a speech of Donald Fleming to the Canadian Parliament, 22 April 1050.
Greek-Yugoslav border: the president of the Greek Red Cross Mr Georgakopoulos receives Greek children repatriated from Yugoslavia. From Paidomazoma, The Great Crime against our People, Georgios Manoukas, 1961.
In his book “The Cry of Irene”, the same Irene who was shouted down in Utah in the recent Pseudomacedonian conference, Ioannis Bougas tells the true story of a young girl, Irene Damopoulou from Kastoria, in western Macedonia, during the years of the Greek Civil War (1946-49).
Irene recounts: “Since my brother and I refused to declare that we were Slavomacedonians and refused to take courses in Slavomacedonci, we were also thrown out of the Romanian school for three days. Our dismissal from school above all created a problem of survival as we had no more right to food from the school mess hall. When my mother complained to the community leaders because we were not given food, she was told that there was nothing that they could do and that we should think of the consequences of our denial to identify as Slavomacedonians. Then my mother went to the school to complain. She found one of the teachers, a man named Mr. Nikos from Kilkis [Greece]. Unfortunately, I cannot remember his family name. “Comrade Niko, why have you thrown my children out of school?” she asked. “Because you are Slavomacedonians from St. Demetrios!” he answered. “Your children need to change schools and attend the Slavomacedonian school.””
Irene tells another haunting story that perhaps should put some sense into the remaining Greek exiles in former communist countries:
“Some mothers lost their lives trying to keep their children. For example that was the fate of Sultana Petridis. I happened to see it with my own eyes and hear with my own ears the terrible torture she suffered in the hands of the communist partisans because she refused to give her children away to the paidomazoma. Sultana Petridis was from the village of Polyanemos of Kastoria. She was divorced from her husband and had two small children, a boy and a girl, whom she refused to give to be taken into Iron Curtain countries. One day, as I was going from our house to my grandmother´s house, I met her in a narrow street of our village. She was walking between two partisans with guns, holding her head down and her hands behind her back. Two more partisans were following a few meters behind them. As the street was very narrow, I stopped and remained standing on the side for them to pass. When they reached the place where I was standing, auntie Sultana slowed her walk and asked me about my family´s name. When I told her, she asked me where my parents were. She asked first for my father, and then for my mother. About my father I said that I did not know, and for my mother I told her that she was at home. As the guerrillas pushed her to continue, she turned her head a little and told me to give “greetings to my mother from aunt Soulta”.
Later that evening we started hearing Sultana´s cries and screams of pain from the torture she was obviously suffering in the hands of the communist guerrillas. The guerrillas had led her to my uncle Papagermanos´ house, which after his escape to Kastoria, was being used by them as their local headquarters. The torture of unfortunate Sultana Petridis continued late into the night. Next morning, the guerrillas put her on a mule and led her outside the village. Because of the torture she had suffered she could not stand on the mule. Thus, the guerrillas first placed a wooden structure on it and tied Sultana. As they were leading her on the mule by our house, she looked as having no life in her. Perhaps she was unconscious. My mother and I,saw this scene from a small window of our house. The guerrillas led her little further north from our village, inside the narrow valley and killed her.
The communists took Sultana´s children into the Iron Curtain countries. Later, they returned to Greece. Her son visited the area of Kastoria, and he was asking to find out “why the fascists killed his mother”? One of those he asked was my uncle, Leonidas Lazaridis, who related this to me. My uncle knew the real killers of Sultana Petridis, and informed him. He told him that the killers of his mother were exactly those people who had indoctrinated him and his sister with stories about “fascists killers,” while he was away in some communist country. I do not know if he was convinced, or if he pursued the matter to learn all the truth about the torture his mother had suffered in the hands of the guerrillas of the Greek Communist Party before her killing.”
This man and countless others, some living now in FYROM and others or their children living around the world, have been apparently indoctrinated since 1948 to believe that the children were not abducted but were Slavomacedonian refugees fleeing the Greek terror. The ones in former Yugoslavia have been apparently fully brainwashed. The surprising perhaps thing is that even some of those in Canada and Australia promote this idea. These people, who left Yugoslavia after Tito fell out with Stalin, had the opportunity to hear the outside view. Their hardline claims make one to suspect that they fled Yugoslavia for fear of reprisals when Tito was facing a change in his policy. From the tone of their preaching they sound like die-hard former NOF/SNOF members the chief promoters of the claim of fleeing fake “atrocities”. The perfect audience for Gruevski´s inflammatory rantings. What a sad, miserable situation. A disowned people, some of them perhaps abducted Greek children, others their abductors, living a lie and wishing to join Greece in the European Union and NATO while accusing Greece for a phantom atrocity, attacking and defaming everything sacred and stealing the name and history of Macedonia. That is a perfect recipe for a failed start and a bad ending.
The United Nations should have finished the business of Tito´s and Cominform´s fake “Macedonia” in 1991.
A moving moment at the Greek-Yugoslav border: families reunite with their children returning from Yugoslavia. From Paidomazoma, The Great Crime against our People, Georgios Manoukas, 1961
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