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40 years of active presence

Saturday, June 10, 2023


    In the vortex of war, the family of Eftychia Nahmia found themselves in Athens, far away from their native city of Ioannina, where they normally lived. The anonymoys crowd of the city would help them pass unnoticed. When Stroop ordered the city’s Jews to be registered the family went into hiding instead.

    They obtained new, false ID cards with Christian names. Chitsa and her brother, Tzekos (Iakovos), changed their names to Eftychia and Nikos. They found refuse in the house of Mimis and Maria Angelopoulou. They passed themselves of as a nephew and a niece of “uncle Mimis” and “aunt Maria” from some provincial town.

    No one in their new neighbourhood knew that they were Jewish. They played with other children, while their “aunt” gave them lessons, so that they would not lag behind other children of their age. Craving for their family and memories of their happier days of the past, may them cried at night but they did not dare express their longing, lest they upset the people that were hiding them.

    Months went by and all sense of time was lost. The children had no way of knowing when Pessach time came. For cover, they celebrated all Christian festivals, including Greek Orthodox Easter. Like everyone else, they went to church on Good Friday. This made them feel confused. Was it not a sin to pretend to be Christians, when in fact they were not?

    In order for the whole family to be together, they moved into the house of Dimitris and Argyro Spiliotopoulou. Walks in the nearby park during dark and extremely cautious visits to the Vox open-air cinema were their only diversions. A chance encounter, an inappropriate glance, could spell disaster.

    Thus, at an age when other children discover life and the world, “when their first thought is play and second the school”, Eftychia had to change her name, in order to hide from those that regarded her as “subhuman” and persecuted her. For her “it’s not a joke, not a game, but a matter of life and death . . . “.

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