Ruined life: Occupation, resistance, civil war and thereafter
by Phaedon Yagiozis, journalist
The work of our dear friend Phaedon presents briefly, but in a very vivid and critical way, historical aspects of the occupation, the resistance, the civil war and the years afterwards, most of the time without taking a position in favor of one side or the other. After all, very little time has passed since these shocking events and the memories are still fresh. The reported oral testimonies of various events cannot be disputed. Thus, the reader can draw his own conclusions, even from the details that are recorded.
The German occupation caused many deaths from starvation, cold, but also from diseases, especially tuberculosis. There were two categories of resistance groups: the EAM-EPON-ELAS on the one hand and the EDES-PAO-EKKES on the other.
Apart from the geostrategic interest, the Germans also had an economic interest in Thessaloniki. Recognized-Registered-Secured-Confiscated-Transferred, terminology used by the Wehrmacht for products such as oil, textiles, tobacco, cotton, leather and minerals of all kinds. 11 of the 15 requisitioned active mines in Macedonia supplied minerals mainly to the KRUPP military industry. In the fall of 1942, there was a shortage of personnel in these mines because Greeks refused to work because of the very low pay. Typical is the intervention of the Wehrmacht Economic Office for the mines of Vavdos in Chalkidiki (producing magnesite), where wages were increased fivefold. During the occupation, three lignite-fired power plants were operating in Thessaloniki. In the winter of 1941-42 more than 120,000 Thessalonians were fed by offered meals. They were 50% of the city’s population.
In chapter 16, Phaedon presents facts on the subject of Macedonia. Tito’s partisans are coveting Macedonia led by General Vukmanovich. With the acquiescence of the Greek Communist Party (GCP), a Balkan Command was created, on the condition of equal participation of Greeks and Serbs, but this was not subsequently respected. At the end of 1943 the GCP consented to the creation of the Slavo-Macedonian People’s Liberation Front (SNOF). In the same period, the Bulgarians created their own organization, EMEO. Before 1943, there is no historical source for the existence of a Slavo-Macedonian ethnicity. GCP changed its position after 1974: there is no Slavic minority in Greece. There are bilinguals with Greek national consciousness. The sermons of the 1903 Ilinden Revolution form the ideological basis of the current EMEO-DKMEE party in FYROM (now North Macedonia). One of the fighters of this revolution was Gotse Delchev, of Bulgarian origin. He was born in Kilkis in 1872 and was killed in a battle with the Turks in Banitsa (region of Oreini) of Serres in 1903. Today he is a common national hero in northern Macedonia and Bulgaria, where towns are named after him (Delchevo and Gotse Delchev, respectively). At the end of chapter 16 Phaedon notes: “We must not forget that the route to the Aegean is the dream of all South Slavs and Bulgarians, not only of the Slavo-Macedonians”.
The book consists of 257 pages and its content is divided into 25 chapters. 85 pages of selected photographs accompanied by very informative explanations follow.
Ananias Tsirambides, Professor Emeritus of the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Member of the Board of HARH