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The Refugee Settlement of Admiral Votsis
Monday, 31 May 2010

This photographic and historical album is a commendable work of Ananias Tsirambides, professor of the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki and municipal councilor of Kalamaria. The continuous recording of the creation of the settlement from the Ottoman rule until today, the detailed description of events and the problems faced by the first refugees after their settlement by the Refugee Rehabilitation Committee, are presented very clearly. The establishment of the first Primary School (19th of Thessaloniki) and the construction of the newer primary and secondary schools were the result of the actions of the poor breadwinners of the settlement. Even the construction of the first small church of St. Panteleimon was their work, since it was completed with their personal labor in just ten months. The activities of this parish, which is the largest in the Municipality of Kalamaria, are varied and nationwide in scope, as described in the album. The history of the sports club of the same name in the settlement, which the author served for 20 years, is noteworthy. During the German occupation and until 1960, the Admiral Votsis was an intellectual center, which, with its theatrical section and the plays performed by the refugees themselves, as well as the musical events that were regularly organized, provided recreation for them and entertainment for their children. During this period the association functioned as a small municipality, since it was mainly interested in the construction of schools, a church and other public works such as asphalt paving, garbage collection, sewers, etc. In recent years, with its varied and numerous sports sections, the club has helped to protect young children from many dangers. This contribution is extremely important and is therefore particularly emphasized in this album.

The information has been gathered mainly from oral testimonies, local newspapers of various eras and local publications, as well as from various publications or works cited in the literature. All of the above, however, are complemented by his personal experiences, which are sometimes deliberately detailed, purely for reasons of comparison with the present day. They show the path, interests and concerns of the poor refugees of the settlement, who, with hard work, solidarity and love of giving, managed to take root and create.

In this album, therefore, many current and old residents of the district will find details and photos of their loved ones who are not alive today. The contribution of some of them to the development of the settlement through the creation of infrastructure projects or through their cultural interventions was very important.

The album contains five chapters.

  • In the first one, the creation of the settlement since the beginning of the last century and its various names are described. During the 1st World War an Allied unit was created after the expropriation of fields of the Pylaiotes. This was followed by the settlement of refugees, first from Caucasus, then from Pontus, Asia Minor, Cappadocia and Eastern Thrace. At the same time, other Greeks from the free Greece until 1912 were also settled.
  • In the 2nd one, the establishment of the first Primary School (19th Primary School of Thessaloniki) is described, which in turn was housed in the 16th Primary School in the Depot area, during the period of occupation in the clubhouse of the Landscaping Association of Admiral Votsis, in the period 1945-59 in the Bagiatakis clinic and then in the newly built building constructed on a plot of land for the rehabilitation of refugees in the center of the Settlement. This was followed by the establishment of other primary schools, kindergartens and the 4th and 5th Gymnasium and Lyceum.
  • The 3rd describes the founding of the parish of St. Panteleimon along with the construction of the first small church, the conflicts with the IKA and the construction of the current magnificent church. Also the various diachronic activity of the parish is recorded.
  • The 4th describes the establishment of the Stylianos Gonatas Cultural Association and then the Landscaping Association of Admiral Votsis (1933) with detailed references to its various sections. The activity of the music and theater departments during the period of occupation and afterwards until 1960 is noteworthy.
  • The 5th section presents men and women, residents of the Votsis who contributed substantially to the development of the Settlement.

    The 270 pages of the album include 278 photographs, 53 documents/plans/maps and 31 newspaper articles.

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