Friday, October 23, 2009

Aegean Refugee Children Golgotha (1946 - 1949)

Political refugees of the Greek Civil War were members or sympathisers of the defeated communist forces who fled Greece during or in the aftermath of the Civil War of 1946–1949. The collapse of the Democratic Army of Greece (DSE) and the evacuation of the Communist Party of Greece (KKE) to Tashkent in 1949 led thousands of people to leave the country. 

It has been estimated that by 1949 over 100,000 people had left Greece, including tens of thousands of child refugees who had been evacuated by the KKE in an organised campaign. The war wreaked widespread devastation right across Greece and particularly in the regions of Macedonia and Epirus, causing many people to continue to leave the country even after the end of the war.

Many people fled due the collapse of the DSE, it has also been claimed that many ethnic Macedonians fled to avoid possible persecution by the advancing National Army. A term used to describe the experience of the ethnic Macedonians who left Greece as a result of the Civil War is the Exodus of Macedonians from Greece, particularly in the Republic of Macedonia and the ethnic Macedonian diaspora. 

The KKE claims that the total number of political refugees was 55,881, an estimated 28,000 - 32,000 children were evacuated during the Greek Civil War, A 1951 document from the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia states that the total number of ethnic Macedonians that left Greece during the Civil War was 28,595 whereas some ethnic Macedonian sources put the number of refugees at over 213,000.

On March 4 1948, "Radio Free Greece" announced that all children under the age of 15 would be evacuated from areas under control of the Provisional Government. The older women were instructed to take the children across the border to Yugoslavia and Albania, while the younger women took to the hills with the partisans. 

Widows of dead partisans soon became surrogate mothers for the children and assisted them in their journey to the Eastern Bloc. Many people also had their children evacuated. 

By 1948 scores of children had already died from malnutrition, disease and injuries. It is estimated that 8,000 children left the Kastoria area in the ensuing weeks. The children were sorted into groups and made way for the Albanian border. The partisan carers (often young women and men) had to help and support the children as they fled the Civil War.

Thousands of Greek, ethnic Macedonian and Aromanian children were evacuated from the Areas under communist control. Although a United Nations Special Committee on the Balkans (UNSCOB) report confirms that villages with an ethnic Macedonian population were far more willing to let their children be evacuated. They are now known as „Децата Бегалци “ (Decata Begalci) "the Refugee Children" in the Republic of Macedonia and the ethnic Macedonian diaspora. 

It is estimated that from 28,000 children to 32,000 children were evacuated in the years 1948 and 1949. According to some sources, the majority of the children sent to the Eastern Bloc had an Ethnic Macedonian origin and spoke their native Slav vernacular, but this is disputed by official KKE documents and statements made by political refugees in the years after the evacuation. Exceptions were made for children under the age of two or three who stayed with their mothers while the rest should be evacuated. 

Many of these children were spread throughout the Eastern Bloc by 1950 there were 5,132 children in Romania, 4,148 in Czechoslovakia, 3,590 in Poland, 2,859 in Hungary and 672 had been evacuated to Bulgaria.

The official Greek position was that these children had been forcibly taken by the Communists to be brought up under a socialist system. The alleged abduction of children is referred to by Greek historians and politicians as the Παιδομάζωμα (Paidomázoma), an allusion to the Ottoman devşirme.

One major effect of the Macedonian exodus from Northern Greece was the effect of depopulation on the region of Greek Macedonia. This was most markedly felt in the Florina, Kastoria, Kozani and Edessa areas where the Communist party was popular and where the largest concentrations of Ethnic Macedonians could be found. Many of these depopulated and devastated villages and confiscated properties were given to people from outside of the area. 

Vlachs and Greeks were given property in the resettlement programme conducted by the Greek Government from the period 1952-58. Many properties were confiscated from those persons who had fled the war and had their citizenship subsequently stripped from them.

Law 1540/85 of April 10,1985 stated that political refugees could regain property taken by the Greek government as long as they were “Greek by genus”. This again excluded many people who were not "Greek by genus", namely the ethnic Macedonian refugees.

Citizenship was stripped from the evacuees without the fair hearing to an independent tribunal and other internationally accepted protocols for the seizure of citizenship such as legal representation and the opportunity to defend oneself. This process of seizing citizenship had "historically been used against people identifying as ethnic Macedonians". Despite it applying to all citizens regardless of ethnicity. 

It has been enforced, in all but one case, only against citizens who identified themselves as members of the "Macedonian" minority. Dual citizens who are stripped of Greek citizenship under Article 20 of the citizenship code are sometimes prevented from entering Greece using the passport of their second nationality. Although since 1998 there have been no new reported cases of this occurring.

Many people who had fled the country were also denied visa for re-entry into Greece. The refugees planned on attending weddings, funerals and other events but were denied access to Greece. These measures were even extended to Australian and Canadian citizens, many of whom have been barred from entering Greece. 

There have been claims that specifically the exiles who left Greece were especially targeted while other nationals from the Republic of Macedonia have had very little problems with entering Greece. The Greek Helsinki Monitor has called on the Greek government to stop using articles of the Citizenship code to deprive, "non-ethnic Greeks", of their citizenship.


Due to all of this, the refugee children took a lawsuit against Republic of Greece in from of the International court in The Hague. They are looking back for their property as well as the right for double citizenship. Estimated value of the lawsuit is around 40 billion euros.


  1. Waarom worden deze kwesties niet door de EU onder de loep genomen en bespreekbaar maken. Grieken zijn schuldig aan etnisch zuivering. 8000 Macedonische kinderen dood en niemand zegt wat daarover.

  2. Waarom worden deze kwesties niet door de EU onder de loep genomen en bespreekbaar maken. Grieken zijn schuldig aan etnisch zuivering. 8000 Macedonische kinderen dood en niemand zegt wat daarover.