At the start of 1938 and exactly in the month January on one unusually
cold night, the boat Ai-Stratis did not unload. The next day Duma, an
old prisoner of 1936, took us and we went to the gully near the monastery
to cut branches to make beds for ourselves. As we went along the road,
I watched him and wondered. He was a huge man with very broad shoulders.
He wore a long coat and woolen, home made pants. He did not own any
other things. He got by with those things the whole of the period of
In one corner where the winter sum baked, we sat and he told us about
life in exile.
"To beat the difficulties," - he spoke simply and softly - "you need
faith and work
"And what sort of work can exiles do?" asked one of us.
"It turns up. You have to want to. I work with the group that cuts
timber. The collective buys timber from the villagers in Avlakjata,
in the village Dimitar - where there is interest - and we go and cut
it. We make it into small pieces ready for transporting. With Hristo
Antoniu we also make lime. Many of us from my village Vladovo know this
sort of work. Those of us who are from villages work in the fields from
spring onwards. We give half of our pay to the shared account and that
way we help the collective and also cover our own costs a little. And
the most important thing is that we are not sitting and thinking all
the time about the "endless exile".
Harder days came. The war started. The world war reached the dry island
and took a dramatic form. On the one side Gestapo and the Greek police,
our collective on the other. There were fewer and fewer in our rows.
Some were dying, some withdrew. All of this time Duma was at the forefront,
as always, calm, upstanding.
Later on we continued on. He did not escape alone. If my memory does
not mislead me, with him were old Fahantidi from the village Rudnik
- Surovichko, Micho Asteriu and others. Their families made an effort
to pull them from the mouth of death. We sat on the hard cliffs of the
island's shore both happy and saddened - because the others were going
to freedom while we remained bound to the island. And those in the boat
were also both happy and saddened. They waved to us for the last time.
As the boat disappeared so did the white handkerchiefs they were waving
and then finally their outlines could no longer be seen. We did not
want to leave. We stayed until the boat became a black dot and then
even that disappeared. That is when we set off for the camp and were
envious that they had saved themselves, while we
Later the newspapers arrived. Instead of letting them go free, as they
had promised, they had imprisoned them in the prison camp "Pavlos Melas."
And one early morning in 1943 when the sun had already started to redden
the blood of approaching freedom, they were taken out and executed.
On the road, as they were getting out of the truck "cage" they pulled
them aside for execution, one of the police who was known to him suggested
- "Kosta, mate! Won't you sign a declaration to save yourself?"
Maybe it was the first time that Duma was afraid. His face became sickly
pale. His lips, his eyelids trembled quietly. He turned to the mountains
as they heard the rat-a-tat of the Hellenic gun. He looked to the north
he straightened his body, which was bowed by all its sufferings,
to its full height. He cleared his throat so that his voice would be
clearer. And with the Internationale he stood calmly before the executioners,
because right up to the end, he fulfilled his debt to the people and
to the party.
From: For Sacred National Freedom: Portraits Of Fallen Freedom
For Sacred National Freedom: Portraits Of Fallen Freedom Fighters