Stefanos Simichanidis

* 1945

  • "And he (Mustafa Kemal Atatürk - auth.´s note) drove the Greeks all the way to Smyrna, which is present-day Izmir. And the great massacre took place there. Many of these Greeks who were in Smyrna were then running to the sea..."

  • “When we arrived the language barrier was there, I remember when these old women went to the movies for the first time. At that time the cinema was called Demokracie, now it’s called Mír. Before the film there was a news-reel. There was always a news-reel. They were sitting in the first row and they have never seen anything like that at that time, an ordinary film. An arriving train was shown on the screen. The locomotive going straight from the screen. And they thought that it was really moving towards them, they were scared and wanted to leave.”

  • “And when they wanted to have their picture taken, they went to a photographer’s. And as they were waiting in the waiting-room, they were very lively, they were noisy, because the Greek people are this way. The photographer came out and told them ´Ticho - Silence!´ to calm them down. But in Greek, the word ´Ticho´ means ´a wall.´ So they immediately lined up against the wall, thinking he would take a photo of them standing in front of the wall. And now the photographer asks: ´Do you want it all together or each of you separately?´ And again, the Czech word for together sounds like ´what colour?´ in this Pontian dialect. They thought he was asking them in Pontian what colour they wanted. Comical situations like this were happening. Or my father wanted to send a letter. He went to a tobacconist’s. We wanted to send a letter and he went to buy a stamp. He did not know the word for ´stamp.´ So he said to the clerk: ´Give me a little Gottwald. Far away.´ (president Gottwald’s portrait was on stamps – transl.’s note). Meaning he wanted to send the letter. This language barrier was there.”

  • “My parents were born in Chirachaná. It is in the Kars region, in eastern Turkey. That’s why both mom and dad sometimes had Soviet Union written as the place of birth in their ID cards, and sometimes Turkey. Due to these Turkish-Russian wars, the territory belonged to one state, then to the other. My mom then also lived in Tbilisi for some time. And then during the population exchange, they arrived to Greece in 1922, to that village of Kato Kline. (And did they remember that place in Turkey? Their life in Turkey?) They remembered the genocide between Turkey and Armenia in 1915. Once, mom was telling me about the farm they had had in Chirachaná. Turks came there and she saw one Turk decapitating an Armenian with his sabre...The man kept walking for some thirty more metres. I don’t know if the man was Armenian or Greek. But I know that the Turk cut the man’s head with the sabre.”

  • “I am a member of the Communist Party of Greece. Nobody can change my stance. I had a good life under socialism. I did not feel my freedom was infringed upon. I had freedom. I did not even have an opportunity to travel. I was not even attracted by travelling. I had freedom. I did not feel like not having freedom.”

  • “To be honest, we did have a good time in these children’s homes, because they were taking good care of us, there was the community life. There was no boredom. There was always something going on. We played volleyball or football, we walked through forests, we played various games. We would wake up every morning, do some exercise, there were daily reports. One has to consider that after WWII Czechoslovakia had enough of its own problems, and in spite of that it accepted us, and we had even better life than their own people who were living here, I have nothing more to say. We lived a carefree life. The teachers in these children’s homes were Czech, but there were also Greek teachers, and we also attended Greek schools. We studied both at the same time.”

  • Full recordings
  • 1

    Krnov, 02.12.2009

    (audio)
    duration: 01:37:52
    media recorded in project Stories of 20th Century
Full recordings are available only for logged users.

I was born a Greek and I will die a Greek.

Stefanos Simichanidis-1951
Stefanos Simichanidis-1951
photo: archiv pamětníka

  Stefanos Simichanidis was born January 3, 1945 in Kato Kline in Greece. During the civil war in Greece he was evacuated to Czechoslovakia. He spent time in many children’s homes; the family was dispersed in various parts of Eastern Europe. Only in 1955 he returned to his parents in Krnov. He completed a secondary industrial school. From 1968 he was working as a teacher of Greek in Třinec and later in Krnov. Even today he still holds his Greek citizenship. He has never been to Greece since that time. He is the chairman of the Greek Community of the Krnov area. At present he lives in Krnov.