Narrated by Anania Tsirabides, Emeritus Professor AUTh, Member of the Board of Directors of HARH
In the summer of 1914, the Venizelos Government welcomed 3,260 Greek refugees from the Caucasus. The Care Committee showed them parts of our free Macedonia, where most settled. But some of them emigrated to America, while some returned to the Caucasus, as was the case with relatives of my grandmother Anna Anastasiadou from Demir Kapi. They didn’t like the heat. They preferred the cold climate of the Caucasus with temperatures up to 20 degrees below zero and snow for six months each year up to three meters high.
“The egg in the sun is baked” was the characteristic phrase of them.
Many thousands of Refugees of Greeks of the East passed through the disinfectant and the camp of Kalamaria. First the Caucasians, then the other Pontians, the people of Smyrni and Constantinople, the Cappadocians, etc. About 22,000 of them died of diseases, mainly malaria and typhus (chamnia).
“Cursed and deserted Karabournou, tombs all around . Open up and look at all of Kars’ children.”
That’s how the Muse sang the sad death song of that time in Kalamaria.
They depart on June 3 1920 3.550 refugees from Vatum by boat ARGO, among them most families of the village of Konk. Many families of Tsirabidians are with them. They were also involved in logging, apart from livestock farming. In Turkish our last name means “family of lumberjacks”.
They arrive in Kalamaria after 6 days while fishing near the coast and after a short stop in the city. Along the way, three people died on board, who were thrown into the sea. There were a lot of promises about Greece, but they got little, grandpa Alexis said. Οn Christmas Eve of 1920, τhose coming from τhe Konk came by cart to Drosato Kilkis, where the Care Committee installed them in empty houses of Turks and Bulgarians.
They depart from Vatoum on August 27 1920 150 refugees by boat FREEDOM 2 and arrive in Kalamaria on September 3rd. Among them are the other families of the Tsirabidians from Konk, the Anastasiades from Demir Kapi of Ardachan and the 17-year-old girl Anna (my grandmother), as well as other families from villages of Ardachan. The rest of the Tsirabidians, along with my now married grandmother Anna, stayed in Kalamaria for about seven months until Easter 1921, when they settled permanently in Drosato Kilkis.
“Working, running, bread not getting enough.” It was the curse (;) of the widow mother to her 17-year-old daughter Anna, my grandmother, because she didn’t want to go in and out of the hospital. Here in Kalamaria, her mother Symela (~52 years old) and her brother Lazarus, 10, died of typhus.
Anna married Stelios Ioannidis in the camp of Kalamaria, who also died of typhus after a few months in Drosato. In the spring of 1922, Anna married my grandfather Ananias, a widower with two boys who also died young at her hands (2 and 12 years old). After two deaths of her own infants, she was finally fortunate to see two boys, Efthimis (1927) my father and Panagiotis (1929).
On the other hand, my grandfather Dimitris Chalyvopoulos came from Serpiskia, Argyroupolis. He went until the 4th grade, he was a chanter in the church of Plagia, Kilkis, where he settled after his marriage. He was very hard-working and nervous. His wife, Angeliki Giannakidou, came from Segioutli in Tsalkas, located 80 km west of Tbilisi. There were 10 brothers, among them Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and the father,Adam, that is, the whole old Testament.
“Anyone who doesn’t have a sure card throws an ace”, said grandfather Giorgos Serides, every time he played “kseri” with my father Efthimis (his nephew) and other uncles.
His wife Anna was my grandfather Anania’s first cousin. Illiterate but the best in “tanomenos sorvas” (pontian soup), “kinteata” and “yofkades” (pontian food).
The American aid with the Marshall Plan (1948-1953) also arrived in Kalamaria.
“These parcels from Undra are not enough for the belly. At the very least, the American right-wingers tell the world to rant” i.e. “These packages of Undra do not fill a belly. That’s what the American right wing says, to fool people.”
It was the typical response of some of Kalamaria’s refugee Pontians infected by the Bolshevik virus, according to Professor of History Kostas Fotiadis.
Hard work, honesty, respect and solidarity were some of the virtues of our refugee ancestors. They rooted in the new homeland by working hard and patiently. They sacrificed themselves for their children.
Let their memory be eternal.
By Ananias Tsirabides, Emeritus Professor AUTh, Member of the Board of Directors of HARH
Our English allies created and operated military installations (airports, camps, warehouses, hospitals) from the beach of Karabournaki to Finikas and the School of War and on the east to the limits of the later regional trench, for the needs of the Thessaloniki Front against the Central Forces. They also built a railway line to transport ammunitions from the port of Thessaloniki to the School of war area. It crossed eastern Thessaloniki passing almost parallel to Papanastasiou street, from Charilaou and the outskirts of Votsi and Finikas.
On an area of about 100 acres, the English created a camp that served as an engine room and battallion for the soldiers of the Indian Order. This camp was located between the current streets of M. Alexandros – Anat. Thrace – Hectoros – Pericleous – Keramopoulou.
The English created the Allied cemetery (today behind Dalipi camp). During this period, they brought the first water with pipes from Chortiatis for the needs of the cemetery and their other facilities. They also carried out many drillings to find water which they located at about the junction of Kalantidou and Lassani streets. With pipes they transported it to a large tank behind today’s 14th Primary School (Lassani-Caesarea).
From May of this year refugees from the Caucasus and after September 1922 (Asian Minor Disaster) refugees from Pontos, Cappadocia, the rest of Asia Minor and other parts of Turkey arrived in Kalamaria by boat, where several of them (mainly of urban origin) settled permanently. The Refugee Care Commission temporarily hosted them in the Allied chambers (tol).
Next to the Allied cemetery was created the municipal (then community) cemetery of Kalamaria.
The whole area of the Votsi settlement, as well as all of Kalamaria, were fields of Pylaiotes (Kapoutzidians) and a Turkish squire, Hamdi Bay. The area was called “buffalo street“ because it was a buffalo pass of the breeders. Apart from livestock products, the cultivation of okras and wine were the main occupations of the inhabitants of Pylaia until the 1960s.
In particular, the area east of the Ethnikis Antistasis (during the Turkish occupation was named Yalkar, then Vas. Olgas, then Grammos-Vitsi) was called in Turkish Yeni Tsavus, i.e. “New Sergeant“.
The English sold the camp with all the facilities to the Anglo-Jewish businessman Campbell. Then began the settlement of the first refugees regionally of the camp, where they lived in draft houses. The settlement is now known as “Campbell.“
The Israeli community of Thessaloniki is buying the facility from Campbell, as well as 35 neighbouring properties with expropriation. A new settlement for the rehabilitation of fire-ravaged Jews is being established. Transfer and installation of 210 needy Jewish families in chambers in the eastern part of the military camp. They remained there until 1931.
A power plant (confluence of Pontos and Aigaiou streets) is being built for Kalamaria. From 1946 to 1957 the power supply was continued by the “Thessaloniki Electric Lighting Company of Petichaki and Co.”. Then it was bought by Public Power Corporation (PPC).
1931 Ιουνίου 30:
Burning of the Jewish settlement of Campbell by members of the Nationalist Organization “National Union of Greece”. Destruction of synagogue, school, pharmacy and 6 large chambers. Two deaths, those of Christian baker Leonidas Pappas and the Jew Leon Vidal. In August, the Jews finally left the Campbell settlement.
The settlement is renamed “Stylianos Gonatas”, which at that time was Minister General of Macedonia (16 December 1929 – 4 November 1932). But he refused that honor. In August of the same year the camp was acquired by the Greek State (definitive contract in 1969).
1930 αρχές δεκαετίας:
The Radio Police Station began to operate as an annex to the 1st AT. Until 1941 it was housed in a section of the 2nd Allied Chamber (approximately at the confluence of Lassani and Chatzipanagiotidi), then until 1953 in a detached house right after Crickela. In 1953-73 in a two-storey villa before the confluence of Vas. Olga and Aigaiou. In 1973 it was abolished.
Accommodation for 45 years of the Association “Admiral Votsis” in the abandoned synagogue. Maintenance of the building with voluntary work of members and athletes. Definitive concession in 1969 by the Ministry of Health and Welfare. Demolition of a crumbling building in 1980, due to the earthquake of June 1978. Construction of a closed double-floor gym of General Secretariat of Sports (GSS) in the same place in 1987.
The settlement is given the name “Votsis“ in honor of the glorious Admiral Nikolaos Votsis who managed to sink the Turkish battleship Fetich Buled in the port of Thessaloniki (18.10.1912) during the struggle for the liberation of Macedonia.
In the same year, the main road of the settlement, Vas. Olgas (Ethinikis Antistaseos today) is electrified, along with some of its residences.
Construction of 16 four-family houses and 18 double-dwellings by The Providence for the accomodation of refugees on either side of Ethnikis Antistaseos, Lassani, Aristidou, and Aristotelous streets. In the same year, Dalipi Camp was established as an artillery base and then as armoured vehicles base to this day. Installation of an antenna of an Armed Forces Radio Station (currently ERT3).
Urban transportation began with a gazogene vehicle and three drivers from Ethnikis Antisraseos and Omirou to Depo, where it was the starting point of the tram.
On Vas. Olgas, it began operating the restaurant “Perikoklada” by Kritikos, originated form Constantinople, which in 1948 moved to the opposite side (now Ethnikis Antistaseos 32) under the new name KRIKELAS, due to its nickname. Krickelas closed in March 2005, while a high-rise building was built to its place .
Kalamaria becomes a Municipality with an area of 6.5 km2 and a population of 10.500 inhabitants.
The Votsi Settlement after the occupation
Until then, there were five animal barns in the settlement.
The State orders a system of self-housing, i.e. the granting of land and loan by a Real Estate Bank according to the members of each refugee family, in which case 150 detached houses were built east of the Ethnikis Antistaseos, for residents who lived until 1958 in Allied chambers.
Opening of a regional trench by MOMA as a flood defence project. It is 15 km long, 10-17 m wide, 2-25 m deep. It starts from Ano Toumba, passes through the Votsi outskirts and flows after the School of Judges in Finikas.
Until 1965, there was no sewage network, so all the houses had an individual cesspool. The roads were dirty, there was mud everywhere, which is why it is considered successful to name Kalamaria as the city of “tsamouria”, i.e. mud.
They made their summer baths in Aretsou and Krini, where they went on foot or in Perea by the bus.
The Votsi labour houses were built opposite the Dalipi camp (Progress settlement with 38 apartments). Also, the three three-storey UN buildings in Megalou Alexandrou, the residences of the workers and dockworkers (K. Karamanlis settlement initially and after 1974 Agios Panteleimonas) and finally the residences of Finikas (1200 apartments).
Until about 1965, at the confluence of Ethnikis Antistaseos 139 and Anapafseos, a bridge for trucks and carts was operated and the corresponding tax was paid. The neighborhood was informally called “Foros”, i.e. “tax”.
The Water Supply Organization (OYTH) reservoir (now Thessaloniki Water Supply and Sewarage Company, EYATH) is constructed next to the cemetery. The gradual connection of the houses begins.
Electroluminescence of Grammou Avenue– Vitsi (National Resistance). Asphalt pavers ad gravel coating.
Inauguration of IKA dispensaries in a prefab (Kalandidou Street). It was a great success of the Sports and Cultural Association of Admiral Votsi, chaired by Athanasios Alexakis.
The Kalamaria mortgage office is established, which is originally housed in the Kazasi-Kalandidou confluence and since 2000 in Finikas.
The operation of the 2nd KAPI Kifissias (Open Care Center for the Elderly) began initially in Souri and since 2008 in a two-storey municipal building in Cappadocia.
The easternmost part of the settlement (80 acres) with a building factor of 0.8 versus 2.4 in force in the rest of the settlement is included in the city plan.
At the eastern boundaries of the settlement (next to the Media Markt superstore) the Waste Transfer Station (Municipality of Pylaia-Chortiatis) began to operate.
The terminal of the Metro of Thessaloniki in the eastern boundaries of the Settlement with the Municipality of Pylaia-Chortiatis (Red Cross Terminal) has been completed.
In neighbouring areas of the settlement there were craft and industrial units (Alatini ceramics, Kazasi factory, Macedonian Textile Industry, ELAIF textiles, PHOENIX hinges and padlocks, Stamatiadis Christmas toys), as well as the offices of the newspapers “Ellinkos Vorras” and “Esperini Ora”, where many fellow residents worked. Unfortunately, they’re all closed today.
By the end of the 1950s, i.e. before the start of the intense reconstruction, there was much more greenery in the Votsi Settlement. There were many pines, cypresses, acacias and other evergreen trees, as well as shrubs and flowers in the courtyards of the detached houses.