“My father died in nineteen forty, sixty, I’m blathering, in forty-six. I had to - I was the eldest child of the family - and I had to work hard. I was ten years old, and I there I was ploughing, so. What else. I didn’t go to school. I’ve got four siblings. Well, and what else.”
“The state army took the children from the villages there. And we came into, the partisans took us, and we came into the people’s democratic states. We came into Yugoslavia, and that’s where we were, there was this camp there. We were there about half a year. Then we came here into the Republic, we were in Mariánské Lázně. And now I don’t know if the year was 48, 48 I guess. The first time I got soup, I was completely boggled, so I ate. Well, and what else. Then they split us up, there were more of us, they split us amongst the children’s homes. Me, my sister and brother got into the home in Ujčin, that’s near Teplice. Teplice weren’t Teplice back then, but Šanov. They’re Teplice today though.”
“I went for the first time in 1980, the first time. Me, my wife and my son. We wanted money, so we didn’t get any. We were promised 800, I got into a quarrel there, they gave me 700 dollars, but not dollars, but the cheques. Then we were there, the family was there, my sister was there, so with them. Well, and when we crossed the borders, I actually started to cry, the first time.”
“Well, we went from Yugoslavia, that was that camp Monasteri... Monasteraki... by train, cargo train, yeah. Well, and I was sitting in the train and now, I’m sitting and moving at once, I was boggled, I hadn’t known that before, so. I’m sitting, and then we arrived in Mariánské Lázně, there they divided us up into hotels, so.” (Q: “They didn’t divide you according to age, did they?”) “I don’t know. But the first thing was: clothes off, everything, yeah, and we got some from UNRRA, or what that was at the time. Well, clean stuff, simply, lousy or not. And that was really good. Then we came to Ujčin. Me and my colleague Patardis, we always stood it here after dinner. That was, it used to be a barracks before, the Germans were there. So we ran around it, him like that, me like this. I always overtook him, and he would say: ‘No, that was the shorter route, you’ll go that way now.’ He lives in Prague now too, so.”
“The first time I saw Mum, I was what, fourteen, fifteen years old. Fifteen. Since Greece, yeah, since the 48th, yeah. I saw her for the first time in the 53rd. And I was there, uncle, his dad as well, another uncle and so on. And I didn’t say: that’s uncle Kos, but that’s Nikolas, that’s Kostas and that’ so and so. And Mum said: ‘How are you calling the gentlemen, say: uncle!’ He’s a gonner now, and him also.”
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The first time I got soup, I was completely boggled, so I ate.
Evangelos Chaziantonis was born in 1938 in Greece. When he was 10 years old, his father died, and as the eldest child he had to begin looking after his family. He had four siblings. In 1948 he and his siblings crossed over with the partisans through Yugoslavia to Czechoslovakia. He was transferred from Mariánské Lázně with two siblings to the children’s home in Ujčin. He was moved on through further homes in Kyselec and Chrastav. He started studies at a grammar school in Trhové Sviny. He switched to a technical school in Brno a year later, where he became a machinist. He got a work permit for Třinec, where he settled down and, as he says, “set his roots”. He visited Greece for the first time in 1980. He married a Greek. He is now retired, he lives in Třinec and devotes himself to gardening.