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40 years of active presence

Thursday, December 7, 2023


    At the outbreak of the Greek-Italian war in 1940, ten-year-old Lilian Benrubi lived with her parents, Isaak and Dora, in Tsimiski Street in Thessaloniki. Lilian’s father, Isaac, a realist and a foreseeing native of Thessaloniki, decided back in 1941 to protect his family by moving to Athens, then under Italian occupation. Two rooms in the centre of the city became their new home. Lilian had already registered in the nearby school, so that she would not lag behind. The lessons, the company of her girlfriends and their youthfull frolicks, helped maintain a semblance of normality in her daily life. As the Germans had already started taking initiatives that forebode nothing good, young Lilian had to stop school so that she would not have to go out so much. Isaak procured false ID cards with Christian names so that it would be hard to trace them. He himself became ´´Fotis Bouzouris´´ and his wife became ´´Theodora´´, while Lilian took the name of ´´Loukia Papadopoulou´´. At the same time, they started looking for a new house in another area, where nobody would know them. A family friend, Aristidis Kestekidis, offered them refuge in his home. A very difficult period followed for Lilian. Confined in the house, she almost never went out. She missed a year at school. But since Kestekidis’ home was always full of people, she at least had some company to help her pass the endless days. Çours of agony came for the family, when some Germans moved into a room of the house. This however proved to be a blessing in disguise, for no one could ever suspect that Jews were hiding in a house where Germans stayed. Their hideout became known though. They had to move once again. Doctor Christos Papageorgiou hid them in his house. The situation there was even more difficult: the family had to stay absolutely silent and quiet, so that the patiens visiting the doctor would not notice them. Lilian had become used to pretending to be a relative from Trikala. But this compulsory role-playing was stifling for her. The pregnancy of the doctor’s wife, Katina, gave them all hope. On October 12th, 1944 this hope was realised: the Germans left town, a boy was born to Katina and the Benrubi family were at last free.


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