The Children Who Fled

1948 was a disastrous year for the villagers of Aegean Macedonia.  They have had many disastrous events in their history, but the one of 1948 stands out head and shoulders above the rest.  At the very least, it is heart wrenching.

Greece had been in a brutal civil war since the end of the Second World War.  In a simplified way, the war was one of the communists against the royalists.  At one time, the communists had conquered all of Greece down to Athens.  The western powers, Britain in particular, would not, and could not, have another communist state in Europe.  With their aid, the royalists forced the communists northward towards the border with Yugoslavia.  But, through an arrangement with the western powers,  Tito had closed the border with Greece so that the communists could not escape to the Republic of Macedonia.

The vast majority of villagers in Aegean Macedonia had sided with the communists.  This was also true of the village of Chereshnitsa. This was not because the villagers believed in communism, but because the communists offered them what the Macedonians had always wanted.  This was a way of life that included a chance to live a dignified life with a choice to speak whatever language they wanted, practice a religion of their choosing, and a way of life free from physical and mental abuse.  Previously, the Venizelos and Metaxas administrations made life intolerable for the Macedonians of northern Greece, with forced migrations, changes of names from Slavic to Greek formats, and fines and imprisonment for speaking their native tongue.

However, this civil war was doomed from the beginning for a variety of reasons.  Although the communist movement was strong through out Greece, the greater part of the fighters came from Northern Greece.  As fatalities mounted in the communist movement, the age for eligible fighters became lower and lower, so that towards the end of the war, boys down to 15 years old were conscripted into the communist ranks.  And then young women were conscripted to help out in the war effort.  The villages were left mainly with women and children under 15 years old.

The royalists had an unchallenged air force that could strafe and bomb as they wished.  The villages were not spared.  The hierarchy within the communist organization devised a plan to spare those children remaining in the villages from being killed or maimed.  Basically those children would be evacuated to safer areas such as the socialist countries in eastern Europe.  The children would be traveling alone with an older girl aged 15 to 20 years old being responsible for about 8 to 12 kids.

In village Chereshnitsa, the mothers were given a choice to allow their children to escape to the north or stay with them in the village.  Surely this was a traumatic choice.  How do you allow your child, who may be 6 years old, or worse yet maybe 1 year old, to travel on foot and cross a border with a girl of 15 to 20 years old as a surrogate mother?  And they had to travel at night and sleep in the daytime because of the ever present airplane intent on killing anyone that moved.  We have heard of cases of  children losing their life in the mountains (although no one specific).

The surrogate mothers took the children to the city of Bitolya in the Republic of Macedonia where they were de-liced, the old clothes thrown away, and new clothes given to them.  They were fed, then assigned a train car to send them mainly to the communist satellite countries of Yugoslavia, Romania, Poland, Hungary, and Czechoslovakia. In village Chereshnitsa, 65 children were allowed to travel north and 17 stayed with their mothers in the village.  They are enumerated below.

Fled to the north:

Name Greek Name Current Whereabouts
1. Sotir Turpchinoff Terpsinis Sofia, Bulgaria
2. Sitchka Turpchinova  Terpsinou Sofia, Bulgaria
3. Tashko Pizarkoff  Pizarkos Melbourne, Australia
4. Blazzo Nidelkoff  Tsilkos Perth, Australia
5. Kosho Nidelkoff  Tsilkos Skopje, Macedonia
6. Lefteria Nidelkova  Tsilkou Fort Wayne, Indiana
7. Tinka Nidelkova  Tsilkou Fort Wayne, Indiana
8. Yorgi Kyroff  Kyros —–, Canada
9. Milka Dzodzoff  Dzodzou Perth, Australia
10. Pando Ingeloff  Vouliotis Chereshnitsa & Kostur, Greece
11. Blazzo Tsinin (Shklifoff)  Sklifas Bulgaria, died in Greece
12. Argir Mafin  Soulidis  Toledo, Ohio (deceased)
13. Risto Mafin  Soulidis  Pennsylvania (deceased)
14. Lena Pavloff  Pavlou Tetovo, Macedonia
15. Tome Suloff  Soulidis Skopje, Macedonia
16. Mihali Suloff  Soulidis Skopje, Macedonia (deceased)
17. Tsilo Mangoff  Mangos —–, Poland
18. Lena Mangova  Mangou —–, Poland
19. Mara Mangova  Mangou ?????
20. Petrushka Mangova  Mangou —–, Canada
21. Kocho Todorchin  Theodorou Skopje, Macedonia
22. Tsilo Todorchin  Theodorou  Skopje, Macedonia
23. Tula Popova  Papa Skopya or Tetovo, Macedonia
24. Kuzo Popoff  Pappas Athens, Greece
25. Lambro Popoff  Pappas Bayonne, New Jersey
26. Kocho Ristofski  Hristiadis Hungary (deceased)
27. (girl) Ristovska  Hristiadou  probably Hungary
28. (another girl) Ristovska  Hristiadou probably Hungary
29. Kole Tuarkoff  Theoharidis Tetovo, Macedonia
30. Toula Tuarkova  Theoharidis Veles, Macedonia
31. (girl) Kochova  Kotsou Plovdiv, Bulgaria
32. (another girl) Kochova  Kotsou Plovdiv, Bulgaria
33. (girl) Parpova  Parpou probably Budapest, Hungary
34. (boy) Parpoff  Parpos probably Budapest, Hungary
35. Taki Parpoff  Parpos Kostur, Greece
36. (girl) Parpova  Parpou probably Budapest, Hungary
37. (another girl) Parpova  Parpou probably Budapest, Hungary
38. Blazzo Kotoff  Kotas Skopje, Macedonia
39. Yorgi Stoyanchin  Tsoukas —–, Canada
40. Yorgi Pandoff  Nikolaidis  Sofia, Bulgaria
41. Vane Pandoff  Nikolaidis Sofia, Bulgaria
42. (girl) Pandova  Nikolaidou Sofia, Bulgaria
43. Tsilo Karayanin Karayannis Toledo, Ohio
44. Lyuba Pitrevska  Petridou ?????
45. Fana Pitrevska  Petridou Skopje, Macedonia
46. Vane Tzotzoff  Dzodzos Perth, Australia (deceased)
47. Tinka Zekova  Zekou Australia (Chereshnitsa, Greece)(deceased)
48. Kouzo Baroff Baros ?????
49. (girl) Barova Barou ?????
50. (girl) Kirova Kyrou ?????
51. (another girl) Kirova Kyrou ?????
52. Itso Kyroff Kyrou Fort Wayne, Indiana
53. Blazzo Boshkoff Boskos Adelaide, Australia
54. Dichka Boshkova Boskou  Adelaide, Australia
55. Kole Parpoff  Parpos Kostur, Greece
56. (girl) Parpova  Parpou ?????
57. Fana Zekova  Zekou Skopje, Macedonia
58. Lena Zekova  Zekou Skopje, Macedonia
59. Tashko Bartanoff  Bartanos Skopje, Macedonia
60. (girl) Bartanova  Bartanou Skopje, Macedonia
61. Tashko Pliastoff  Pliastos Skopje, Macedonia
62. (girl) Pliastova  Pliastou Skopje, Macedonia
63. Spiro Dzodzoff  Dzodzos Skopje, Macedonia
64. Fana Trianova Trianou Perth, Australia
65. Lyuba Trianova Trianou Perth, Australia

(Generally last names ending in va signify a female.  Thus Blazzo Boshkoff & Dichka Boshkova are brother and sister.)

Stayed with their mothers:

  1. Georgi Rogoff (Rongos) (Fort Wayne, Indiana)
  2. Lena Rogova (Rongos) (Kostur, Greece) (maybe Canada)
  3. Tashko Nedelkoff (Tsilkos) (Tihio, Greece)(deceased)
  4. Lyuba Nedelkova (Tsilkos) (Chereshnitsa, Greece)
  5. Tsilo Shkemboff (Skembos) (Skimos) (Fort Wayne, Indiana)
  6. Koleto Shkemboff (Skembos) (Fort Wayne, Indiana) (deceased)
  7. Ditchka Stasina (Milosis)(married: Skembos) (Fort Wayne, Indiana)
  8. Kouzo Pliastoff (Pliastos) (Fort Wayne, Indiana)
  9. Tsilo Pliastoff (Pliastos) (Fort Wayne, Indiana)
  10. Lefteri Mangoff (Mangos) (Fort Wayne, Indiana)
  11. Ourania Mangoff (Mangos) (Fort Wayne, Indiana)
  12. Lyuba Tzotzoff (Tzotzos) (Perth, Australia)
  13. Tashko Penchoff (Pentsos) (Toledo, Ohio)
  14. Itso Penchoff (Pentsos) (Fort Wayne, Indiana)
  15. Koleto Bellioff (Bellios) (Fort Wayne, Indiana) (deceased)
  16. Goleto Stasin (Milosis) (Germany) (deceased)
  17. Tashko Baroff (Baros) (Perth, Australia)

(Slavic last name is first, Greek last name is in (–). In addition, names may be different in the USA, Canada,  and Australia).

Girls of Chereshnitsa who acted as surrogate mothers:

1. Lyopa Dzodzova (Dzodzou) (Athens, Greece)

2. Lyuba Dzodzova (Dzodzou) (Perth, Australia)

3. Tinka Popova (Papa) (Skopje, Macedonia)

4. Tinka Toarkova (Theoharidou) (Sofia, Bulgaria)

5. Prosha Boshkova (Boskou) (Adelaide, Australia) (deceased)

6. Slavka Kotova (Kota) (Skopje, Macedonia)

7. (maybe 2 more)

Over the course of many years, these children were reunited with their families.  Most currently reside in Canada, Australia, or the United States.  It must be mentioned that while they were in the Eastern European countries they were treated very well and schooled in various disciplines.  Some became engineers, some college professors, others chose fields in the various trades. (source for the village children’s names is George Bellio)

In total, 38,000 children were evacuated from northern Greece in 1948.  About half of them were evacuated to orphanages in Eastern European countries by the Greek Communist Party, while the other half were placed in children’s homes through out Greece by the adversaries of the communists. (source is Danforth and Van Boeschoten in “Children of the Greek Civil War: Refugees and the Politics of Memory”).

The common name for this group of children is “Detsa Begaltsi” in Slavic, that translates into “The Children Who Fled”, and “Pedomazoma” in Greek, that translates into “The Gathering of Children”.  The Greek counties (Nomos) that accounted for the predominant number of Detsa Begaltsi were Kostur, Lerin, Voden, Kozhani, and Grevena.

Here is a popular song sung by Peter Pizharcoff, currently in Australia and a Chereshnitchenats.  It is a sad nostalgic song of the Detsa Begaltsi.  Words and translation are given below.

Kade Ste Makedončhina

Ilyada Devetsto Čhetirdeset I Osmata Egei Nas Makedonski, Solzi Prolea Od Gradi Topli Maičhinski, Dečhina Se Otkinaya Po Svetot Se Raspurskaya, Detski Igri Ostaviya

Chorus (2x):             Kade Ste Makedončhinya Kade Ste Kai Otidovte Žhalno Plačhe Mayka Egeiska Za Vas Plačhe Makedoniya

Dalechna E Proletta, Čhetirdeset I Osmata Daleku E Detstvoto, Begstvo Minato Spomen Tažhen Ostana, Za Rodna Kukya Tatkova Zborot Plačhen Mayčhinski, Maika Ne Zaboravaite

Chorus (2x)

Evropa, Kanada, Amerika, Avstraliya Glasoi Solžno Krenaya, Makedontsite Iniya Pravo Imame, Slobodno Da Žhiveeme Vo Našha Zemya Tatkova, Mila Makedoniya

Chorus (2x)

Kade Ste Makedonchinya (Каде сте Македонциниа)


English Translation

Илиада Деветсто Четирдесет и ОсматаЕгей Наш Македонски, солзи пролеа

Од Гради Топли Майчински, Дечнина се откиная

По Свето се разпуская, Децки игри остовиа

One Thousand-Nine-Hundred Forty Eight.Tears are streaming from our Aegean Macedonian eyes.

From the mother’s warm bosoms, children were torn apart.

Scattered throughout the world, their childhood games left behind

РЕФРЕН (2x):  Каде сте МакедонциниаКаде сте, Каи отидофте

Жално плаче Майка Егейска

За вас плаче Македониа

REFRAIN (2x):  Where are you little Macedonians.Where have you gone.

Grieving Aegean mother cries for you.

For you cries Macedonia.

Далечнае пролетта, Четирдесет и осматаДалеку е Децвото,

Бегство минато

Спомен тажен остана, За родна кукиа таткова

Зборот плачен Майцински, Майка не Заборавайте

The spring of 1948 is long gone.Far is the youth,

running away is past.

Glooming memories remain, for our father’s homes.

Our mother’s crying words not to be forgotten

РЕФРЕН (2x): (……..) REFRAIN (2x):  (……..)
Европа, Канада, Америка, АвстралиаГласой солзно креная Македонците

И ния право имаме, слободно да живееме Во наша земиа Таткова,

Мила Македониа

Europe, Canada, America, AustraliaWailing tearful Macedonian voices were raised.

And we have the right freely to live In our fatherland,

our loving Macedonia

РЕФРЕН (2x):  (……..) REFRAIN (2x):  (……..)