Tanasis Avukatos

* 1962

  • "They didn't have the tree in Greece, but we had to have it of course, because otherwise we'd be missing out. We didn't get our presents on Christmas Eve, but in the morning of the 25th. That was a Greek tradition. Christmas was honoured. Mainly there were the traditions that the Greeks who stayed in the Czech Republic do not uphold very much any more. The traditions are somewhat religious, the communist community didn't forbid them as such, but it didn't like seeing them. The old grannies cooked rye and caramel for New Year regardless, and gave them out among the families, so the families would be rich. It's a bit like the Czech lentil soup on the the 1st of January. So the old grannies went around and gave them to the mothers, and not to the comrade fathers. It wasn't until in Greece that I understood what tradition that was. Then all of a sudden I remembered say how Granny Olga used to carry them about and give them out, something I didn't understand when in the Czech Republic."

  • "And so some girls were attracted to my Greekness. But not that I'd misuse the fact too much, no, I have my limits. It happened to me several times that when I had Czech friends, I was successful with some girls and they blamed it on me being this exotic Greek. But that isn't true, it's a question of how the woman feels. So what if I'm a Greek. So I'm more hairy. That's about it. The character, the size, the head, that all stays."

  • "Dad had a positive approach to communism. He was actually a Stalinist. They threw him out of the party in 1968. Well, he was organised. He got organised during the civil war. He was organised in the USSR in Tashkent, and when he came to Czechoslovakia, he also joined the Communist Party of Greece. Except in 1968 when the communists here got into a quarrel, a similar thing occurred with the Greek communists. They declared Dad a Stalinist and threw him out of the party. But, well, Vidnava was quite a strange village. It had a simple street design, so in the first phase they sent almost all the war invalids, the people on wheelchairs, those without arms, the blind. My aunt was blind, for instance, that's why she was in Vidnava. There was a rectangular square there, streets at right angles, it was all flat, not like Jeseník. When they ran out of the last healthy comrades, they took Dad back into the party and he even became chairman of the local organisation."

  • (Q: "Well, and how did the Greeks in Greece see you?") "As a Czech. I was a Czech to them. I mean, to them, a Greek from America is an American. A Greek from Germany is a German. Consider that there are about ten million Greeks in Greece, and seven or eight million of us are abroad. So I was a Greek from the Czech Republic, thus I was a Czech to them. But at the same time we were all Greeks, we knew that. When they said 'he's Czech,' it meant 'he's from the Czech Republic' or 'he was in the Czech Republic'."

  • "We were Greeks when in the Czech Republic. That was because we only had a residence permit, as we reckoned that one day we'd go away, so we refused to become Czechs in the inside. Not everyone, some of us married Czech women and didn't give returning to Greece a second thought. They didn't even learn Greek, or just a little. In Greece, they considered us to be Czechs, but you could assimilate if you wanted to. But then there were Greeks who kept going to "Czech" taverns visited by Czechs, they spoke Czech, ate Czech sausages with mustard and drank Czech rum. And they thought of how nice it was back in the Czech Republic and how the girls were easier to manage there. Those ones stayed with their minds in the Czech Republic."

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    v Praze, 06.01.2011

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“We all wanted to go back.”

Tanasis Avukatos
Tanasis Avukatos

Tanasis Avukatos was born in Jeseník in 1962. Both of his parents were Greeks who were forced to leave Greece during the civil war. His father went to Tashkent first; it wasn’t until later that he followed his own mother and sister to Czechoslovakia, where he met his future wife. Tanasis Avukatos lived in the Jeseník region until he was eighteen years old. He studied at a grammar school in Jeseník, and subsequently at a university in Prague. He worked in Olomouc for three years. In 1988, he immigrated to Greece. He returned eleven years later, however, because of employment. He works as a builder, he has a Czech wife and two daughters. They are all close to the Greek mentality and way of life. They visit Greece regularly.