Nikoalos Liontu

* 1939  

  • “We went by train from Yugoslavia straight to Czechoslovakia to Brno. We arrived to Brno. There they undressed us, gave us new clothes, bathed us, and deloused us. And we stayed in Brno, in a place where there were some barracks, probably army barracks. There were wooden barracks in which we stayed for about a month. We were divided based on our age. The younger children went to children’s homes, and some of us, the older ones, went to these towns. I and my brother at first went to Uničov for a month. From there we went to the Bludov spa for one or two weeks, and then we stayed in Sobotín.”

  • “Soldiers from the government army were coming to the villages. They were visiting houses and looking for partisans who might be hiding there. I remember that my uncle had a hiding place on the threshing floor. There was one place for threshing, which belonged to the neighbour, and which was lower, and our threshing floor which was higher. There was a fence, and he had a hole behind that fence where he was hiding. That was because at that time, young men had to be either with the partisans or with the government army. And if they didn’t want to join either of them, they had to hide somewhere.”

  • “Dad was wounded in the war against the Germans. Then there was some armistice and Dad wanted to go home for the holiday. When the Englishmen were bombing them and firing from their ships at the shore, they hit Dad, and he was left buried somewhere there. He didn’t make it home. Mom then had to toil in the field with grandpa, who was elderly, and grandma was helping them.”

  • “Germans arrived to our village. I remember it. They were saying: ´Cluck, cluck.´ They wanted eggs. Grandma was giving them eggs, and they would be giving us chewing gums or bonbons. That’s what I remember. I know that Dad was in the army and he fought against the Germans. They set our cellar on fire. The beams were burning. We were hidden somewhere here. As soon as they left, we had to put down the fire quickly.”

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    Šumperk, 23.05.2012

    (audio)
    duration: 01:32:16
    media recorded in project Stories of 20th Century
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Mom told us that it would be just a little while and that as soon as Greece was liberated, we would return home

Nikolaos Liontu in May 2012
Nikolaos Liontu in May 2012
photo: Vít Lucuk

  Nikoalos Liontu was born in 1939 in the village of Omorfokklisia (Galista in Macedonian) in northern Greece. He is a Slavic Macedonian and his mother tongue is Macedonian, not Greek. In the 1940s he and his family became victims of military conflicts in Greece. His father Georgios died at the end of WWII after being hit by a grenade from a British warship. Little Nikoalos, his mother and his two younger brothers then left their native country due to the civil war and were sent to Czechoslovakia. Nikoalos lived in several children’s homes, spending the longest amount of time in the children’s home in Sobotín. Without his mother’s approval, his surname was changed by Czechoslovak authorities in order to sound more Slavic. In 1982 he returned to his original surname, because the Macedonian name caused him troubles when applying for a visa for Greece. After finishing school he learned the car mechanic’s trade and he remained faithful to this profession until his retirement. Today he lives in Šumperk.