Ilias Michopoulos

* 1938

  • "It was a member meeting of the local Zlaté Hory party cell, which had about forty-two of us members. The General Secretary of the Communist Party of Greece came to explain and analyse with us the materials from the Twelfth General Assembly of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Greece. We all sat and listened attentively, and when he finished and asked whether something was unclear to someone, or whether someone wants to make any comments, and he meant it in all honesty, I noticed that although I felt the listeners didn't understand a lot of what was said, and would have had objections or comments on the topic, the place was as silent as a church. I was the youngest, and I felt I should, so I raised my hand, and the member of the Central Committee, the Secretary in fact, addressed me: 'Go on, youngster.' So I stood up and I gave him three questions which were pretty direct, I would say. He smiled and said: 'And a young man had to ask me this, and what of you, comrades, did you understand everything, you don't have any objections, no comments?' In this way he disgraced them, and after the meeting ended, hardly a week went past and they suspended my membership for half a year."

  • "Our tears dried up, the smaller children couldn't even cry any more, the ones like me or older, ten, nine or more, we realised there was no point in crying. So we grouped up, we overcame our fear. The food our parents packed us for the journey was pretty much gone, the hunger was getting to us. Spring up there in the mountains, that was April 1st, tends to be cold. We camped out in the open, just laid ourselves down the same way we would get up. We walked during the night, during the day we slept in the thick of the bushes."

  • "The papers arrived, she read through them: 'Well, yes,' she smiled happily, but: 'You passed the exam, but they didn't accept you anyway.' I said: 'Why?' It seemed strange to me, why they didn't accept me if I had passed. 'Well, because they didn't have enough spots.' They had some six hundred applicants say, and they took eighty, or I don't know how it was exactly at the time, that was nineteen-fifty-four. It kept bugging me, so I sat down of my own accord and wrote to the Ministry of Education, telling them that I'd passed the exams. I sent them the papers without my supervisor's knowledge, adding that I don't understand why they didn't accept me. They answered that here in Bohemia all the spots really were taken, but through the ministry, seeing as it was all one Republic, they recommended I should apply to Slovakia, saying there were three spots free there, so hurry. I hurried, by train, the comrade supervisor sent me on my way, I got there, stopped there, graduated there, and then returned back to Bohemia."

  • "Now there were dozens of people waiting for us in Mikulov, the organisers, the governesses, the medical personnel, that is the nurses and doctors, and so on. And now we realised how they thought of us just as some sort of living commodities, how they caught us, stripped us of what we had on, because what my mum put on me that April 1st, I still had on me when arriving in Bohemia. Asleep or awake, no bathing, no care, just some food is all we had. And now we were to start clean off, they explained everything, how we were lousy - any piece of clothing I moved was white from the lice. They shaved us bald, and then off to the showers like on a conveyor belt, they disinfected us, showered us, and out we came like babes on the other side of the showers, where the nurses waited to dress us new."

  • "When I spent my holidays in Zlaté Hory, that was when my parents where already living there, I got together various adults, suggesting that we should do something of the sort, that we shouldn't stagnate, that we should cultivate our culture, our language and so on. I did have some experience, I was in a students' troupe in Bratislava. I like dancing, I could sing, I felt I could manage something. As soon as I finished school, when I was working normally, I formed a song-and-dance troupe in Zlaté Hory with some forty-two members. Hooray, I could do something. So we started to piece it together, and we made such a troupe that we took part in various festivals and we performed at various holiday resorts, whenever there was some public celebration and so on - the great First of May in Zlaté Hory, with thousands of people attending, couldn't take place without our Greek troupe. And in that way I satisfied myself and I satisfied those with me, it made us happy. They couldn't wait for the rehearsals, because we had fun at the same time, relieved our stress from work, we even had young people pairing up there."

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    Praha - Karlín, 10.09.2010

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Our tears dried up, there was no point in crying.

Mr Michopoulos after arrival to Czechoslovakia in 1948
Mr Michopoulos after arrival to Czechoslovakia in 1948
photo: Sbírka pana Michopoulose

Ilias Michopoulos was born in 1938 in the village of Glikoneri in northern Greece. His parents were smallholders. Michopoulos’ father fought against the Italian invasion during World War II, and later joined the Greek People’s Liberation Army (ELAS) as a partisan. After the the German occupation ended, at the beginning of the civil war, he fought against the royal army and against British units as part of the Democratic Army of Greece (DSE). In 1948, Ilias Michopoulos left Greece together with his two younger sisters and headed through Albania and Yugoslavia into Czechoslovakia. Michopoulos first arrived at a camp in Mikulov, and was subsequently moved through eight different children’s homes. Michopoulos’ parents came to Czechoslovakia three quarters of a year later. However, the children had to remain in the children’s homes as their parents were not able to look after them. Ilias Michopoulos attended a secondary school of agriculture in Bratislava and went on to work at the State Tractor Station in the Bruntál region. For a short time he was a member of the Communist Party of Greece (KKE), however in 1967 he withdrew his membership due to differences of opinion with the party leadership. He enjoys dancing and singing, he founded a Greek song-and-dance troupe in Zlaté Hory. He now lives in Prague. He is active, he interests himself in the fate of the historical buildings at the Kyselka spa, where he lived for a short time during his childhood.