Ilias Cumaropulos

* 1933

  • "A certain rich man was killed. He was a good man and had a weak leg. We were terribly sorry for him. We found him at the field near the road. We called, they came for him and took him away."

  • "Mother, sister and brother did not want to leave Greece. We only left with my brother and got to Albania, where we stayed for about two months. Then the cars came and took us to Belgrade, Yugoslavia. We stayed there, I think, only for a month. Then there came a gentleman with the lady and told us that we would move on again. They took us to the train. We did not know where we were going. We were small. I was almost fourteen years old [15 years]. We went mostly at night so that noone new we were running away. Through Budapest we got to Czechoslovakia. The first stop was in Mikulov near Brno. They accommodated us in the big barracks, where there were doctors, engineers, and senior political leaders. We went through a medical examination. We've been there long enough."

  • "Two guerrillas came in the evening. They went from house to house so that they knew, which children to take. So if the parents wanted to. It was voluntary. They came to us, my mom opened the window. He knew this man, and he said to her: ´Your husband said I should pick you up and take you north, because there will be war.´ Mummy did not agree. I heard it, and I said that as the oldest I will go to my daddy. My brother wanted to go too. Mommy started crying, but she left us go. We then joined a group of guerrilla children,who left the house."

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    Jeseník, 15.08.2018

    duration: 01:46:26
    media recorded in project Stories of 20th Century
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We often thought about coming back. Sometimes we even cried.

Ilias Cumaropulos
Ilias Cumaropulos
photo: archiv pamětníka

Ilias Cumaropulos was born on 8 September, 1933 in a small village of Velos, fifteen kilometres in Soutthern direction from the regional city of Kastoria in the Northern Greece. His father fell in the Greek civil war fighting for the guerrilla of the Democratic army of Greece (DSE). In 1948 Ilias, who was fifteen years old and his seven years old brother Tomas, were taken by the guerrilla across the borders to Albania. Later both the brothers got to Czechoslovakia. The witness volunteered to join an army training at the age of sixteen, which he undergone in the barracks of Petržalka. Then he was meant to go fighting to Greece for DSE. Finally the original plan changed and all the children were sent to study crafts. Ilias Cumaropulos was trained by a mechanical locksmith. He first lived in Krnov and from 1967 he lived in Jeseník, where he also assisted at the founding of the local Greek community and for more than ten years he was its chairman. His mother with his three-year-old brother Lazaros and little sister Irini, who was only three-month old, did not flee from Greece in 1948. The witness met his mother almost twenty years later, when she came to visit Czechoslovakia. He met his siblings only in 1975. Greece was dominated by a strongly right-wing military junta that did not allow fugitive fellow citizens to return. When after the rule ceased, he finally could visit his birthplace after twenty-seven years and visited his loved ones.