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40 years of active presence

Sunday, May 28, 2023

    Sara Yesoua-Forti (1927)


    Sara Yeshua, wife of Marcello Fortis, was born in Chalkida in 1927. Her father diedyoung and her mother, Zafeira, made men’s hats to provide for her family. She was enlisted from an early age in EPON (the Youth Resistance Organisation). When the Germans took over the city she fled with her mother to the village of Koutroulas, and introduced herself as Marika, the new teacher. She quickly took an active role in the Resistance, drafting in women. After the war, during the White Terror, she faced persecution and ultimately fled to Athens, where she tried to continue her studies, but was arrested. Following her release she emigrated to Palestine.

    She was interviewed in 2010 at her house in Tel Aviv by Iasonas Chandrinos. Alexis Menexiadis was also present.

    Excerpt from the interview:

    Armed Resistance

    You’ll come with us [with ELAS – the Greek People’s Liberation Army]. Wherever we go, you’ll come to, as a guerrilla fighter.” I realised from the start [that] they wanted me to cook tea for them. “I’ll never do that,” I told them. “If I’m coming with you, I’ll do whatever you do.” They said, “Sarika [Sara], you can’t do that, you’re a girl.” I said, “Give me a donkey. I don’t want anything, just a donkey, then I’ll know what to do. Whatever village you go to, you’ll ring the bells. And I will talk to the girls and the women, they way you talked to everyone else.” Thats how it started.

    All of the villages were hours away from each other. Do you know what the guerrillas taught us to do? To climb to the tree tops. The forest was so dense that even if you were at the top you couldn’t be seen. The first time I was up there, the thugs came with the Germans and I was afraid. A guerrilla told me, “they can’t hearyou, they can’t hear you.”

    Flight to the Middle East

    The Jews left Tsakei beach in small boats and in big boats with engines. From Tsakei they could go to Turkey. And the Jews found out […] [They Jews told me] “Sarika [Sara], speak to the guerrillas, to let me through, to have my turn.” What did the guerrillas do? They gathered all the Jews who wanted to leave and brought them to monasteries. And they brought them food and water. But then they did something very bad– but I was a guerrilla, you see, not a Jew. They searched every Jew who was about to leave for gold sovereigns. Everyone had to give at least five gold sovereigns. But they were right, the guerrillas. They had fed them. People had often stayed there for fifteen days.

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