Saturday, January 12, 2013

My Great Uncle Nikos was a Naoussa Hero!

When I was in Athens in November, my Aunt Soula told me more about our Naoussa family history -- including the death of her father Nikos Theofilos at the hands of Communist guerrillas on 1-11-49. Indeed, I circulated at Xmas-time a framed photo of my father Steve and Aunt Faith as children in ethnic costumes in Naoussa circa 1928 that she gave me. Also in the photo:  their mother Paraskevi Xanthopoulou (as she would be known in Greece) at right, her sister Maria, and Maria's husband Nikos.

Naousa Family circa 1928
Subsequently, I received an envelope from my aunt Katherine Huntalas Skandale, who lives in La Canada, CA (down south). I had been bugging her for any photos she might have from Stockton. Along with some photos came a Time Magazine article dated 1-31-49 and entitled "Crucified" -- a report on a bloody 3-day attack/siege of Naoussa by 3,000 andartes (guerrillas):

"In the first daylight, young Mayor Theofilou was seized at home, dragged and kicked through the streets to Truman Square, backed up against a white marble monument. Said a rebel capitanos: 'You've got a lot of experience lately making speeches to your American friends. Why not make one for us?' Theophilou straightened and started to answer: 'I am the mayor of this town and --- ' A spatter of bullets from rebel Tommy guns cut him off. For three days his body stayed there, propped against the bloodstained marble."

Nikos Theofilos had days earlier welcomed American General James A. Van fleet to town, when during a special ceremony the mayor had thanked him for U.S. aid and the town square was renamed Truman Square. All-in-all 75 civilians were shot, clubbed or burned to the death; the town was plundered totally and 700 townspeople were taken captive. Thankfully, Soula, her mother, brother George, and sister Boula had been sent to Athens earlier.

While living in Greece (1968-78, including seven years under the infamous Junta), I became well-aware of the the trials and tribulations of the Greek people during WWII, the Civil War, and then the tough times that followed -- this in addition to the oft-brutal military dictatorship of that time. Perhaps, this is why I now feel the pain of the Greek people as they endure yet another terrible time in the 21st Century. And why it is so important to know your family's history in Greece, as well as in Stockton. Zoi se mas!

1 comment:

  1. Now have been reminded that Jerry Lucas' family is also from Naoussa - are there others?