Zakis Hatzis was born in Ioannina in 1931. Even before the war, however, his family had settled in Athens. His father Leon was from Ioannina, and his mother, Sarina, née Samuel, from Trikala. He had two younger siblings, Chrysoula and Maurice. After the commencement of anti-Jewish measures in Athens, his father decided to flee from Athens to the areas of ‘Free Greece’ controlled by the guerrillas. Their search for refuge took them through various places, including Sofades, Smokovo and Karditsa. Eventually they hid in the city of Volos. The end of the war found them in the town of Almyros. After the war the family settled in Athens again. In 1953 Zakis married Astro (Beki) Batis, with whom he had two daughters. He died in 2018.
He was interviewed in 2015 at his house in Athens by Iasonas Chandrinos.
Excerpt from the interview:
22 of us got into one of those gas-driven cars of the time, and went to Karditsa, to ‘Free Greece’, where we wouldn’t be in danger. Where else could we say we were Jewish? […] We lived freely there. We were not a rich family. My father had made a couple of big packets, which he put the fabric in. Fabric had currency atthattime. And we could get by. 7 okas of grain for a cubit of fabric. It was very useful.
German check point
When we got onto the bus, no one knew each other. One of them, Apostolis the driver, said […] “You will sit at the front.” We didn’t know why. We thought it was because we spoke such good Greek. […] At Elefsina there was a large German check point […] [We had been given fake] identities. I was called ‘Yannakis’. And our surname became ‘Hadzidakis’. […] Well, they checked all twenty-two of us. I must have started crying. The Gestapo didn’t dig around much, he looked at us, he stroked my face a bit and I cried [some more]. [The Gestapo] threw our [fake] identities back to us, and whatever else he had taken from us […] and said “Go on”. From then on everything was easier. Much easier. There were [Italian] checkpoints, but [the driver] gave them a box of cigarettes. That’s how we easily got through.
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