In the centre of prewar Thessaloniki , at 35 Tsimiski street, lived the family of Haim and Evgenia Pardo lived with their three daughters, Lilly, Rosina and Denise. Haim was a merchant and his shop was just across the street. Until the declaration of the war in 1940, they had led a quiet life. Even then, only a few things changed. Fear of the Italian bombing raids made the family temporarily move to a detached house in Edmondou Rostan Street, a little further away from the city centre.
Their first worries started when the Germans entered the city on April 9th, 1941. They were quickly appeased though by the conquerors skilful propaganda and the ambivalent attitude of the Jewish Community’s leadership towards them.
Later, the compulsory concentration of all the Jews of Thessaloniki into ghettos and the yellow stars bode no good. Their worst fears came true, when the first missions to Poland started. At this critical point, the family of Rosina Pardo decided to flee the ghettos.
The couple of Yiorgos and Faedra Karakotsou became their saviours. They undertook to hide the whole family in their house, at Tsimiski street, in the centre of Thessaloniki. Rosina and her sister, Denise, changed names and became Roula and Nitsa. From that moment on, they would not venture outdoors.
They found refuge in the worlds of fantasy, in keeping a diary and playing: “We used to climb on the terrace, at 113 Tsimiski street and play “ship”. Seated on a parapet, we imagined it to be a ship and set off for faraway places, seas and free lands, without conquerors” remembers Rosina – Roula.
She also kept a diary, where the prevailing sense of fear of being exposed and arrested has been recorded. Fearing that her diary might fall into German hands and compromise them all, she never mentioned her real name in it.
Their confinement lasted for 548 days. The big day was October 26th, 1944, when the Germans retreated from Thessaloniki. But even then, when Rosina came out of her hideout and was recognised by an old neighbour who called her by her real name, she was scared and run back into hiding again. Fear had become her second nature. . .
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