In the transfer section of Piraeus

Mitte März 1942 werden Agis Stinas und seine GenossInnen aus dem Lager Akhronaflia verlegt. Doch auch die folgenden drei Monate in Piräus sind die Hölle:

In the transfer section of Piraeus

When the occupation authorities decided to empty Akhronaflia and to transfer the detainees elsewhere, they began with us. The reason for this preference was that the place where we were locked up had not been intended to serve as a prison. This was lucky for us. If we had remained a bit longer at Akhronaflia, none of us would have survived. A little after our transfer, the first collective execution of camp detainees was carried out as reprisals(21).

Of the seven who were then executed by the Italians, four would have been executed in any case by the Stalinists: Seïtanidis, adversary of the CPG since 1924, Thoïdis, Tsourtsoulis et Kastanias, all three excluded from the CPG and placed in permanent quarantine. Who made this selection? Was it by chance? The three others were Berketis, Anagnostopoulos and Koskinas. There was only one logical explanation: this selection was made by the leadership of the camp and the Stalinist leadership together. If we had still been there the governor would not have needed to ask the Stalinists who to hand over to the Italians for the firing squad. He knew who they had designated, those who he had already isolated as anarchists, agitators and people with no country, and he would have them ready for the first batch.

In mid-March 1942 they ordered our transfer to Piraeus. We had an appalling journey from Nafplio to Piraeus, tied up and packed tightly like sardines in a lorry. The behaviour of the gendarmes in our escort (Greek gendarmes in the service of the occupation authorities) was bestial. (…)

(…) They handed us over to the transfer section and we were locked up in the cells. There, for the first time, we saw with our own eyes the atrocious drama that the people lived in the first period of the Occupation. It wasn’t men who occupied the cells, but skeletons, shadows, human ghosts. Most, if not all of them, were accused of stealing from the occupation authorities. But no one was a professional thief. At that time everyone stole. The visitors had the same ghostly aspect. In the arms of the women who came to see their detained husbands there was nothing but a pile of bones. One could only distinguish in this little pile two big eyes filled with distress and reproach. Reproach towards the great executioners who had bloodied the whole country in such a small amount of time, but also towards the whole of humanity which had tolerated it, reproach for the generations and centuries to come.

Each time the wife of an imprisoned baker appeared in the visitor’s room, all the detainees, from behind the barred openings, cried out: “Madam baker, just a crumb of bread!” From a plate of beans (without oil, obviously) that you were passing to someone a bit of broth (that is to say, cold water) fell onto the foul ground while they were passing it through the grill of the cell. Everyone immediately fell on the ground to lick it up. Every day people died of hunger. The corpses were dragged away by their feet, to where the municipal lorry collected them, like so much rubbish.

Many days later, perhaps on the intervention of the Red Cross, every twenty four hours they gave us half a ladle of a soup whose colour made you think of maize, but it wasn’t. Some said it was the shavings of a tree from Ethiopia. In any case, we threw away more than we ate.

An Armenian lay on the same blanket as a boy from Chios, in the darkest corner of the cell. At mid-day, as well as his half-ladle of soup, he took that of his friend from Chios who, he told us, couldn’t get up. It’s only when he began to stink that we realised that he had been dead for several hours. Once, they brought to us three people who had stolen, killed and eaten a donkey. They all died in a few hours.

Lice swarmed. (…)

We must have been something like seventy political prisoners. In addition to us, who came from Akhronaflia, some exiles arrived from the islands of Folegandros and Gavdos, all Stalinists, apart from Tamtakos, who was a member of our organisation. The occupation authorities had decided to gather together all the politicals at Haïdari and Larissa. But the camps were still not ready and that’s why they provisionally kept us in the transfer section of Piraeus. A provisional arrangement which lasted a long time. We stayed in that hell until mid-July 1942, that is more than three months. We protested continuously and the Red Cross transmitted our protests to the occupation authorities and the government. They finally decided, while waiting for the camps to be ready, to send us to various police stations in Evia(22).. The whole time we were in Piraeus, comrades outside visited us every day, morning and afternoon, bringing us whatever provisions they had managed to gather. It is thus that a contact was re-established which had been broken for some years.

Tamtakos managed to escape. An escape organised in a very intelligent fashion – several days passed before the gaoler was aware of it. But he and the gendarmes then became enraged. As well as insults, swearing and threats, they took measures to make our lives more difficult. Yet the Greek gendarmes knew that we were hostages at the disposal of the Germans and generally destined for the firing squad.

When Voursoukis tried to flee and failed, because the waiter in the section café knew about it and informed the gendarmes, they beat him and locked him up in handcuffs. Pouliopoulos and Yannakos had been admitted to hospital.

(21)

The reprisals of the Germans and the Italians against the actions of the partisans.

(22)

A big island in the Aegean Sea connected to the continent by a movable bridge next to Halkida.