By way of a gift, the Stalinist gangsters attack us

Wie Stalinisten reagieren, wenn Kommunisten die Internationale singen, illustriert folgendes Kapitel eindrucksvoll:

The Red Cross representatives had clearly declared, in front of all of us, that they had themselves fixed our daily ration at 225 grams per person. But from the day of their departure, the well-fed Stalinist leadership, in concert with the governor, decided to reduce it to 130 grams, arguing that this was war and that it was possible that the Red Cross, despite what was said, would be late and that we had to have reserves.

We protested immediately and very energetically. The donations of the IRC were to be shared out honestly to each one of us, and it wasn’t the business of either the camp authorities or that of the Group. We kicked up a real fuss, threatening to immediately telegraph the IRC.

This was the first of two incidents which provoked a savage aggression of the Stalinist thugs against us. The second was the refusal of Voursoukis to do his forced labour.

On the New Year’s Eve of 1942, the chief of the wing told Voursoukis that he would be doing forced labour the next day. He told the chief that there must be an error, that his turn hadn’t come yet. We knew the response in advance: that the 15-20 people in the special wing were ill and exempt from work. And Voursoukis and all of us explained that these gentlemen were in very good health, ate well, had their comforts and that they even did their exercises every morning. If they need to be served they can contact an employment agency and take on a maid from outside. We were not disposed to serve them as domestics. They persisted and provoked a series of incidents.

On New Year’s Day (a memorable day) were formed a committee to go and discuss and protest with Aridas, the secretary of the Group in the second wing. We had not even opened our mouths when a mass of thugs, already gathered around Aridas, threw themselves on us screaming. The attack spread to all the wings. The camp was turned upside down. Our revolt was so serious for them that they had not taken account either of the garrison nor of the Italians who were in the offices of the camp authority. It has to be said that they were hardly afraid of any intervention from that side. The risk was really very serious for them: our constant demands for food and our “lack of respect” for the well-fed scumbags of the special wing risked making the mechanism of the robots seize up.

They “sat” quickly and took the decision to exclude us from the Self-help Group. Their decision was read out in a very official tone in the wings by “Death’s Head” (Lykouris).

For sure the governor heard all the noise. The next day he called Pouliopoulos and I to his office. He knew all about us. And he was violently hostile to us. Above all it was because we were not patriots like the others. We had not signed the Stalinist petition to be mobilised and sent to the front to defend the fatherland. We had also refused to participate in the celebrations of 25 March and, during a theatrical presentation of the Group which was attended by the governor and other “officials”, when everybody was set to sing the national anthem, we stood up to leave singing the Internationale. The affair of the provisions had brought his exasperation against us to its height. He entirely rejected any responsibility for any incidents against us because, as was reported to him and as he himself could testify, we were not disciplined and did not respect the rules of the camp, and what’s more we wanted to eat all the beans so that the camp wouldn’t have any reserves (provocation). He added that the hatred of the Stalinists against us was justified because we were anarchists and had no country. We replied that this hatred of which we were the object was a great honour for us, and proved the correctness of our ideas and our policy. Their hatred is the same as that of exploiters and the privileged against revolutionaries. Finally, he told us that for his tranquillity and ours he would send us to another wing. Thus we were sent somewhere else. And with us the archeiomarxists, Seïtanidis, Iliadis and two of those who were ostracised.

For sure we took all the provisions to which we had a right, down to the last gram. But we didn’t have any cooking utensils. The Stalinists refused to give us what there was, despite the fact that the Group’s utensils had been bought with our money. Finally, as best we could, we managed to procure an incredible collection of oddments. Then we had to find a cook. The first to offer himself was Paraskevas. He had, he told us, knowledge, practice and skill. More as a joke than to check his skill, we asked him if you proceed in the same manner for pasta, dry beans and fresh beans. He answered straight away, without the slightest embarrassment, “No”: you immediately put pasta and fresh beans into cold water before heating them up. Whereas, on the contrary, when you throw dry beans into the saucepan the water must be boiling. Finally, it was Makris, a cake shop worker, who was put in charge of the kitchen.

225 grams of beans, even without bread, without oil and without salt, is better than nothing, and it satisfied our hunger, after so many months of clear soup from the Self-help Group.