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The Refugee Settlement of Admiral Votsi
Monday, 31 May 2010

This photographic and historical album is a commendable work by Ananias Tsirabides, professor of AUTh and municipal councillor of Kalamaria. The timeless record of the creation of the settlement from the Turkish occupation to the present day, the detailed description of events and the problems faced by the first refugees after their establishment by the Committee for the Rehabilitation of Refugees are presented very clearly. The creation of the first Primary School (19th Primary School of Thessaloniki) and the construction of the newer Primary and Secondary Schools were the result of the actions of the poor wage earners of the settlement. Even the construction of the first small Church of Agios Panteleimonas was their work, since it was completed in the course of only ten months with their personal work . The activities of this parish, which is the largest of the Municipality of Kalamaria, are various and on a national scope, as described in the album. The recording of the history of the homonymous sports club of the settlement is also remarkble, to which the author served for 20 years. During the German occupation and until 1960, Admiral Votsis represented a spiritual home, which was relaxing the refugees and entertaining their children with his theatrical department and the plays of the refugees, as well as the musical events that were regularly organized. At this time, the association operated as a small municipality, since it was mainly interested in the construction of schools, church and other public works such as asphalt paving, garbage collection, sewerage, etc. In recent years, with its diverse and numerous sports departments, the club is helping to protect young children from many dangers. This contribution is extremely important, which is why it is particularly highlighted in this album.

The information was gathered mainly from oral testimonies, local newspaper publications of different eras, but also local publications, as well as various publications or papers mentioned in the bibliography. However, all of the above are complemented by his personal experiences, which are often deliberately detailed, solely for comparison with the present day. They show the course, interests and concerns of the poor refugees of the settlement, who managed to take root and be creative with hard work, solidarity and willingness to offer.

In this album, many current and old fellow citizens will find evidence and photographs 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 their cultural interventions has been very important.

The album includes five chapters.

  • The 1st describes the creation of the settlement since the beginning of the last century and its various names. During the First World War, an Allied unit was created after the expropriation of Pyleotes land. This was followed by the settlement of refugees firstly from the Caucasus, then from Pontos, Asia Minor, Cappadocia and Eastern Thrace. At the same time, other Greeks were installed from the-until-1912 free Greece.
  • The 2nd describes the establishment of the first Primary School (19th Board of Directors of Thessaloniki) which was housed in sequence in the 16th Board of Directors of the Depo area, during the period of occupation in the building of the association of Admiral Votsi, in 1945-59 in the ordered clinic Bayataki, and then in the newly built edifice built on a plot of rehabilitation of refugees in the center of the settlement. This was followed by the creation of other primary schools, kindergartens and the 4th and 5th Gymnasiums and Lyceums.
  • The 3rd describes the establishment of the parish of Agios Panteleimonas along with the construction of the first small church, the disputes with IKA and finally the construction of today’s majestic Church. The various and timeless activity of the parish is also recorded.
  • The 4th describes the establishment of the Stylianos Gonatas Cultural Association and then the Association of Admiral Votsi (1933) with detailed references to its various parts. Remarkable is the action of the music theatre department during the period of occupation, but also after it until 1960.
  • The 5th presents the people of Votsi settlement who contributed substantially to the development of the Settlement.

The album’s 270 pages include 278 photographs, 53 documents/ layouts/maps and 31 newspaper publications.

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