The woodcut “Mother and Child” is by the engraver Tassos Alevizos and was used as a poster with the kind permission of the A. TASSOS Society of Visual Arts
“To you who stretched out your loving hand to embrace my immigrant little one”
Kalamaria honored the villages of Macedonia that saved its children during the German Occupation, in a moving event on Sunday, March 31st at 6.00 pm at the Melina Merkouri Municipal Theatre (corner of Metamorfoseos and Argyroupoleos).
During the German occupation, the difficult winter of 1941-42 urgently raised the issue of survival in Thessaloniki, Kalamaria and Athens, especially for the young orphans and children of poor families. In Kalamaria and Thessaloniki, the Greek Red Cross, in cooperation with the Pontic Association “Efxinos Leschi” and personalities who were involved in public affairs (e.g. in Kalamaria Michalis Metallidis and Sophia Aslanidou), sent about 1000 children to villages of Central and Western Macedonia. From March 1942, children’s missions began by buses, trucks and trains, accompanied by the Red Cross volunteer supervisor, Eliza Kydonaki, and other volunteers. The children were of refugee origin, from 5 to 15 years old.
In several villages, the residents did not hesitate for a moment to respond to the call for the rescue of the children. Boys and girls were sheltered, fed and raised, for one or more years, mostly by refugee farming families. Thanks to the self-denial and solidarity of these people, hundreds of children were saved from hunger and diseases brought on by the harsh German occupation.
The Municipality of Kalamaria, the Historical Archive of Refugee Hellenism and the Chair of Pontic Studies of the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki organized this honorary event during which, as an expression of gratitude for the solidarity and the rescue of the children, the villages and the families that hosted them, as well as the institutions and the pioneers of this action, were honored.
The event was the first publication of the findings of a research project of the Historical Archive of the Refugee Hellenism and the Chair of Pontic Studies, following visits to the villages and the collection of archival documents and oral testimonies from the elderly residents of the villages and from people who had experienced this hospitality as children.