Children of the Greek Civil War Refugees and the Politics of Memory
by Loring M. Danforth and Riki Van Boeschoten
University of Chicago Press, 2011
Cloth: 978-0-226-13598-4 | Paper: 978-0-226-13599-1 | Electronic: 978-0-226-13600-4
ABOUT THIS BOOKAUTHOR BIOGRAPHYREVIEWSTABLE OF CONTENTS

ABOUT THIS BOOK

At the height of the Greek Civil War in 1948, thirty-eight thousand children were evacuated from their homes in the mountains of northern Greece. The Greek Communist Party relocated half of them to orphanages in Eastern Europe, while their adversaries in the national government placed the rest in children’s homes elsewhere in Greece. A point of contention during the Cold War, this controversial episode continues to fuel tensions between Greeks and Macedonians and within Greek society itself. Loring M. Danforth and Riki Van Boeschoten present here for the first time a comprehensive study of the two evacuation programs and the lives of the children they forever transformed.

Marshalling archival records, oral histories, and ethnographic fieldwork, the authors analyze the evacuation process, the political conflict surrounding it, the children’s upbringing, and their fates as adults cut off from their parents and their homeland. They also give voice to seven refugee children who poignantly recount their childhood experiences and heroic efforts to construct new lives in diaspora communities throughout the world. A much-needed corrective to previous historical accounts, Children of the Greek Civil War is also a searching examination of the enduring effects of displacement on the lives of refugee children.

AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY

Loring M. Danforth is the Charles A. Dana Professor of Anthropology at Bates College and the author of several books, including, most recently, The Macedonian Conflict: Ethnic Nationalism in a Transnational World. Riki Van Boeschoten is associate professor of social anthropology and oral history at the University of Thessaly, Greece, and the author of From Armatolik to People’s Rule: Investigation into the Collective Memory of Rural Greece (1750–1949).

REVIEWS

“This remarkable study breaks new ground in several areas: in its methodology, its style, and its topic. Historically and ethnographically, the book tells a duplex tale: by two authors, writing about two opposed camps, and exploring the vicissitudes of two states and two ethnicities. Balanced to an impressive degree, Children of the Greek Civil War succeeds magnificently in showing the parallels between the experiences of the two sides in a way that is moving as well as analytically compelling. Yet the greatest strength of the book, aside from the seamless writing and its emotional impact, lies in the theorization of the children’s agency in organizing their present lives and understanding their past.”
— Michael Herzfeld, Harvard University

“Successfully combing archival research with extensive ethnographic fieldwork, Children of the Greek Civil War is a work of first-rate scholarship, grounded in original research and sophisticated theoretical analysis, that is often gripping as it ranges from historical prose to deeply moving personal vignettes. Given the contentiousness of the book’s subject—an understudied but highly significant episode—it is as courageous as it is informed. The time seems ripe for beginning the process of reconciliation, and Danforth and Van Boeschoten’s work will help us move down that difficult road.”
— Maria Todorova, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

“Danforth and Van Goeschoten grippingly tell the stories of thousands of Greek children relocated during the Greek Civil War….Amid charges of communist baby snatching and fascist child manipulation, the book charts an astonishingly evenhanded and supremely well-researched course. Insisting that refugee children ought to occupy center stage in their own history, the authors support their argument with two chapters of testimony from the historical actors themselves remembering their own childhood experiences. This innovative book ends with some insightful thinking about the production of historical memory….Highly recommended.”  
— K. Dubinsky, Choice

“In this excellent book, Loring Danforth and Riki van Boeschoten steer a careful course between claim and counter-claim. . . .  The life stories revealed in their interviews with the evacuees make for fascinating, if at times harrowing, reading. The book is an important contribution to the study of a still contested aspect of the civil war in Greece and to one of the least-known dimensions of the Greek diaspora.”
— Richard Clogg, Times Literary Supplement

“Danforth and Van Boeschoten provide a well-written, fair-minded, and convincing comparative study of the actions of both sides and of the subsequent politics of memory.”
— European History Quarterly

TABLE OF CONTENTS

List of Illustrations

Note on Transliteration

Acknowledgments

- Loring M. Danforth, Riki Van Boeschoten
DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226136004.003.0001
[life-history narratives, refugee children, Communist Party, Greek government, Greek Civil War, war, violence, children]
This book analyzes the life-history narratives of refugee children who were evacuated from their homes by the Communist Party and the Greek government during the Greek Civil War, offers insights into the current theoretical concerns in the anthropology of children and childhood, and considers the impact of war and violence on children. (pages 1 - 20)
This chapter is available at:
    University Press Scholarship Online

Part I: Histories

- Loring M. Danforth, Riki Van Boeschoten
DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226136004.003.0002
[refugee children, United Nations, evacuations, war in Europe]
This chapter discusses the beginnings of the international refugee regime developed by the United Nations to ensure that the fundamental rights of children are protected. It also describes the evacuation of children during the war in Europe in the 1930s and 1940s, and discusses the historical, cultural, and geographic contexts in which these evacuations took place. (pages 23 - 42)
This chapter is available at:
    University Press Scholarship Online

- Loring M. Danforth, Riki Van Boeschoten
DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226136004.003.0003
[evacuation of children, Eastern Europe, Greek Communist Party, UNSCOB]
This chapter presents a historical account of the evacuation of children to Eastern Europe conducted by the Greek Communist Party. It considers whether the evacuations were carried out voluntarily (with the consent of the children’s parents) or by force (against their parents’ will) by examining reports of the UN Special Committee on the Balkans (UNSCOB) and firsthand accounts of refugee children themselves. (pages 43 - 84)
This chapter is available at:
    University Press Scholarship Online

- Loring M. Danforth, Riki Van Boeschoten
DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226136004.003.0004
[Queen Frederica, Royal Welfare Fund, paidopoleis, evacuation, repatriation]
This chapter discusses the evacuation program conducted by Queen Frederica and the Greek government. It describes Queen Frederica’s efforts to provide care for the children, the establishment of the Royal Welfare Fund, and the ideology and goals of the paidopoleis. The chapter also examines the evacuation process itself, the living conditions in the children’s homes, and the children’s repatriation to their villages in the early 1950s. (pages 85 - 114)
This chapter is available at:
    University Press Scholarship Online

Part II: Stories

- Loring M. Danforth, Riki Van Boeschoten
DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226136004.003.0005
[life-history narratives, Greek children, Macedonian children, Kostas Tsimoudis, Evropi Marinova, Stefanos Gikas, Maria Bundovska Rosova]
This chapter presents life-history narratives of two Greek and two Macedonian children who went to Eastern Europe: Kostas Tsimoudis, Evropi Marinova, Stefanos Gikas, and Maria Bundovska Rosova. (pages 117 - 158)
This chapter is available at:
    University Press Scholarship Online

- Loring M. Danforth, Riki Van Boeschoten
DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226136004.003.0006
[paidopoleis, Greece, Efterpi Tsiou, Traian Dimitriou, Kostas Dimou]
This chapter presents narratives of two Greek children and one Macedonian child who lived in paidopoleis or children’s homes in Greece: Efterpi Tsiou, Traian Dimitriou, and Kostas Dimou. (pages 159 - 184)
This chapter is available at:
    University Press Scholarship Online

Part III: Ethnographies

- Loring M. Danforth, Riki Van Boeschoten
DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226136004.003.0007
[refugee children, Greek Civil War, refugees, displacement, childhood separation, exile, family reunions]
This chapter analyzes the experiences of the refugee children from the Greek Civil War in light of recent anthropological work on refugees, displacement, and the meaning of home, and presents narratives of childhood separation from parents, narratives of long years in exile, and stories of family reunions. (pages 187 - 218)
This chapter is available at:
    University Press Scholarship Online

- Loring M. Danforth, Riki Van Boeschoten
DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226136004.003.0008
[life-history narratives, refugee children, departure, material objects, powerlessness, empowerment]
This chapter analyzes the life-history narratives of refugee children and explores the construction of their memories. It focuses on four themes that recur in their life histories: departure, material objects, powerlessness, and empowerment. (pages 219 - 246)
This chapter is available at:
    University Press Scholarship Online

- Loring M. Danforth, Riki Van Boeschoten
DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226136004.003.0009
[memory wars, evacuation, refugee children, Eastern Europe, Greek Civil War, politics of memory, Aegean Macedonia, Pan-Macedonia Association]
This chapter, which discusses the “memory wars” that continue to be fought over the political meanings associated with the evacuation of refugee children from their homes to Eastern Europe during the Greek Civil War, considers the “politics of memory” by analyzing four ethnographic examples. The first two involve political communities of memory: the Association of Refugee Children from Aegean Macedonia; and the Pan-Macedonian Association USA, Inc. The third focuses on Nicholas Gage and his book Eleni, and the fourth explores the transformation of the village of Lia, the Gage’s birthplace. (pages 247 - 288)
This chapter is available at:
    University Press Scholarship Online

Epilogue

Endnotes

References

Index