A man separated from his family by war and politics

Grandfather Germanos died where he was born, at Aghios Germanos on the Prespes Lakes where he was the most well-known tinker in the region. He always kept by him a small saucepan in which he made a fiery punch out of tsipouro and sugar. Born at a time when it was not a problem to be bilingual, his Greek was as much help to him as his Slav Macedonian, that is, none at all. In 1947, he was incarcerated along with another 32,000 Slav Macedonians in the Pavlos Melas concentration camp in Thessaloniki. From there he was interned on the island of Yiaros, in the Cyclades, as he had been accused of helping the Democratic Army. Right up to the end, he claimed that politics was a later invention. In a devastated countryside, personal, and particularly property, differences were enough to land you on the one side or the other. Two years later, upon returning home, he found neither his wife nor his two children, who had been taken to Bitola in what was then the People’s Republic of Macedonia (PRM), just 40 kilometers from his home, along with another 20,000 Slavic speakers and 11,000 children. His own village had been settled by Vlachs. He managed to contact his wife but she felt safer where she was and refused to rejoin him. Germanos was not granted a visa to go and see them because of his term of exile on Yiaros. He saw them once more in 1956 when those on this side of the border were allowed 5 kilometers inside the PRM border. In 1962 he was remarried, to a former guerrilla he had met in Tashkent whose husband had remarried in her absence. In 1989, his children obtained visitors’ visas and came to meet their father. They came again for his funeral.