“First encounter with death was difficult. The Greek cemetery forms the part of the cemetery of Těchonín. Today, there are one hundred forty people there, those who died during the past twelve years. Those are the sick or the wounded, who couldn't be cured. The encounter with death didn't go well with me. Almost every month when I was there somebody died. For a child it was a bad experience, not a good thing, to see those people walking behind the casket to the cemetery.”
“As a child I witnessed as my father came and told us that his friend and colleague was dying. That he would go to the mortuary to bid him farewell. Back then I was aware what it was about. Of course, as he left, I sneaked out of the house and I followed him. It was in the evening, it was almost dark. My father went into the morgue, I was sneaking behind him. The door was open. The man was shaking his hand, he was biding him farewell. From a distance I saw him lying there with candles around him. Physician decided that he could live no longer and the truth is that on the second day the man was dead. My father wasn't the only one who went there, most of the people who could walk came to see him. They went to say goodbye to this man, a friend from the civil war.”
“The victors hated the partisan resistance so much that they had torn the names of my parents and all those who fled to the eastern lands from registers. They tore the registers to pieces. So they in fact didn't exist. We have been living here thanks to the attitude of the Czechoslovak state. We had a residence permit for foreigners, the green id at least. We could live here, with limited rights. For many years we couldn't manage to get Greek citizenship. The Greek state was cruel. You were against the government so they stripped you of all the rights and you had nothing at all. As we were travelling to Greece in 1979, after the fall of military junta, the embassy gave us this great paper with a photo, but no passport, just this temporary residence permit. We needed to arrange something or to see our relatives. In fact we were not granted Greek citizenship till today. There was no compensation. Czechoslovakia had no obligation yet they provided us with health and made good citizens of us with proper education. We could realize our potential here, while the Greek state did nothing at all. That's what I didn't forgive it till today.”
We ceased to exist in our country, our names had been torn out from registers
Konstantin Papasavoglu was born on May 23rd in Šumperk. His parents, Stelios and Christina, fought with the left-wing partisans in the Greek civil war. As the partisans had been defeated by the government forces they had to flee Greece. They were among thousands of Greeks who were granted asylum in socialist Czechoslovakia in 1949. Konstantin spent his childhood in the barracks in Těchotín in which wounded Greek refugees were accommodated. He grew up among the disabled and people with serious health conditions. He witnessed suffering and saw many of his neighbors die. In 1961 he moved to Jeseník with his parents and his sister. From 1973 to 2015 he had been working in Vítkovice enterprise in Ostrava. While working he also studied at the Technical university in Ostrava and after graduating he worked his way up from an ordinary labourer to a director of the sales and purchase department. He felt weird for his whole life as he didn’t know whether he should consider himself Greek or Czech. As Greeks who were granted asylum in socialist Czechoslovakia couldn’t apply for citizenship until 1989. At the same time, even Greece no longer considers them its citizens. So Konstantin, as a son of those refugees, was stateless, he had no passport and he couldn’t travel abroad. He was granted Czechoslovak citizenship only after 1989. He is the chairman of the Ostrava Greek community and he has been oraganising series of events to keep Greek traditions alive and to deepen the connections between the Czechs and the Greeks.