Fotis Bulguris

* 1935

  • “The six of us boys decided we’d go work at a hydro plant, and then we’d as if go for holiday to Ohrid and leg it to Albania, from where we’d go to Czechoslovakia. That’s how it was, so we went to Ohrid for a holiday, and then on 20 August we were to return to the children’s home in Skopje. We slept in tents, and the leader had a borrowed boat; he hid the oars under the bed in his tent, where he had some lover of his. So I lay down and pulled two oars out, and before that we’d made two more oars out of planks. We set out at twelve o’clock, and I told the boys that we had to steer a bit to the left, so we’d reach Albania. Four and a half hours later and we were in Albania. I wasn’t sure if it was Albania, but we found a packet of cigarettes on the path, and I saw that those weren’t Yugoslavian cigarettes. We went along the path by the border. There were soldiers driving by, but no one took notice of us. Not until one of them ran after us and shouted: ‘Yugoslavs, wait up!’ I asked how he could tell we were Yugoslavian, and he said that he’d seen the boat and that Albanians didn’t have ones like that.”

  • “My wife had been in Albania and then in a children’s home in Hungary. I had been in a children’s home in Skopje in Macedonia. I remember that it was called Kuzman Josifovski Pitu. Then they took us to Crikvenice in Croatia. For a long time we were together - my sister and brother and myself. Mum was in Bulkes in Serbia, and she took my brother with her from Croatia, and then they moved from Bulkes to Czechoslovakia, where Christos and Irina were born. They took me from Croatia back to a children’s home in Skopje, where they wanted me to train as a radio technician, but only if I accepted their citizenship. But I wanted to escape and return to my parents. As a boy in Greece, I had liked Czechoslovakia when the teacher showed it on the map. But it wasn’t easy to just leave Macedonia when Tito and Stalin were at odds at the time. And our mum didn’t know where we were for ten years. You can imagine how hard it was. When my boys set off somewhere, three hours is enough and then they have to report where they are. In the children’s home we were forty boys and forty-two girls at one point.”

  • “They often beat my mum black and blue, because they were looking for my father. The royalists caught Mum and demanded she told them where Dad was. She didn’t know or didn’t want to say, so they beat her until she was black all over. My mother’s sister killed a sheep and wrapped her into its skin. They told Mum that if they caught her again, they’d kill her. So she was forced to leave, and we then left for Yugoslavia with another family in the forty-eighth.”

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    Javorník, 15.03.2017

    duration: 02:23:10
    media recorded in project Stories of 20th Century
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The civil war drove them out of their homes

Fotis Bulguris
Fotis Bulguris
photo: archiv pamětníka

Fotis Bulguris was born on 7 December 1935 in the village of Chiliodendro (Želin in Macedonian) in the district of Kastoria in northern Greece. He is a Slavic Macedonian, and his native tongue is Macedonian, not Greek. His father fought in the Democratic Army of Greece during the civil war. After sustaining a heavy injury, his arm was amputated about the elbow. Fotis’s mother was nearly beaten to death by government troops, and so she fled to Yugoslavia, where she was followed by the witness and his two siblings. Whereas the family ended up in Czechoslovakia, Fotis Bulguris lived in various children’s homes throughout Yugoslavia. In August 1952 he and some friends secretly crossed Lake Ohrid to Albania in a stolen boat; in 1958 he managed was finally reunited with his family in Czechoslovakia with the help of the Red Cross. He then lived and worked in Javorník. In April 1960 he married Irina Tcapas. His wife came from the town of Maniaki (Kolarica in Macedonian), just five kilometres from the witness’s native village. Her family also belonged to the Slavic Macedonians living in Greece, and they also had to flee the country under dramatic circumstances during the civil war.