Greek Civil War
After the war ended in 1945, there was something more tragic. We had Civil War in Greece. The war was between the communists, who were supported by Russia, and the other side, who were supported by England and the U.S. That war lasted for a couple years, or maybe more and it was really bad because one Greek was killing the other. While I was not very scared during the World War since I was so young, I was really scared of the Civil War and it affected us a lot on the island.
We had guerillas, we called them, in the mountains, and during the day it was peaceful, but at night they would come down to the villages and take our food. My mom and grandmother would bake bread in those big ovens they had and somehow the guerillas knew, because some people from the village, from the other side, who hated us, would tell them to go take all the bread. Eventually my grandmother and mother would hide the loaves of bread in plastic bags and have use little children sleep on them so they couldn’t find them. At night when the could come down from the mountains, the dogs from the village would start barking, and even now when a dog is barking at night I get scared.
We tried to make life normal at that time, but at the same time we were in the crossfire. The guerillas were after our fathers, my dad and uncles, to kill them, so they left and went to a bigger city with police protection. While they went to protect themselves, the villages were left on their own with the women and children and the communists.
My mom had a nephew who was a communist and guerilla, and I think because of him we were not suffering much more than the fear we had. He came one night, when my mom was expecting with my sister, and told her that they were after the oldest children from the three brothers, my father’s brothers. They would take them up the mountain, forcing the fathers to go and take them back, so they could kill the fathers.
I was one of the oldest children in my family, so he said that those children should leave tomorrow, and then he left very quickly. And so the next day, they packed up myself and my two cousins and sent us to the village where our fathers were with police protection. I was seven or eight and they were two and three years older. There was this very kind man who had a huge home that he had opened to our relatives because we knew each other. Friends I think we were. We all lived in this big home for protection while my mom, grandmother, and little brother were left at the village. Eventually, they emptied the village and brought them to bigger cities in order to starve the guerillas.
I remember one night, it was towards the end of the war and they thought the guerillas were weakened enough. They sent my dad, uncles and the others from the right side to the village with guns to protect us, since they didn’t think the guerillas were any threat. Well, that night they came organized and there was a lot of gunfire exchanged. My dad was wounded in the leg, but his brother pulled him out of the way of fire. They ran down the hill and hid away from the village so they survived, and no one else was killed.
The same night, they picked up a wealthy family who had a factory that would process the olives to produce olive oil. They came and picked up the father and the eighteen-year-old son, took them outside and shot them in front of the mother and the sister. The father was experienced enough to pretend he was dead, but the son died immediately. The father was taken to the hospital where my dad was. The communists would pick up somebody from the other side and just shoot them right there in front of you.
The next day I remember my mother picked me up and we got on the bus and went to a big city on the island that had a hospital. I remember walking in this huge area and there were cots and people laying on them, everything was white, and my dad was there. He said the bullet did not hit any major blood vessels or anything else in the leg, and it didn’t break the bone, so it would be a matter of not getting infected and he would be fine. The civil war lasted for about two years, and eventually England and the U.S. provided enough ammunition through the Marshall Plan and the communists were defeated.