mariël tten

Το όμορφο χωριό μας - Ζιάκας in 1983


mariël otten © 2012

Pindochori 1983 → Ζιάκας 2013
October 1983
η Τραγωδία του Ζιάκα
"My great-grandfather was a kλέφτ"
Return to laughter: I will not return a failure
Left, write and Riki van Boeschoten
Ζιάκας on the internet


Ζιάκας 1983
Ζιάκας revisited 1986

See also:

Vrouwenstudies een afweging [Dutch]

"my great-grandfather was a kλέφτ"

mariël (μαρία) otten

One afternoon we are talking about kλέφτs. Μαργαρίτα gives me a picture and says: "This is my great-grandfather". I thought we were talking history, but I return to the present with a shock. Suddenly I understand how past and present are linked. How people of Ζιάκας have fought against the Turks, against the Italians, against the Germans, and finally against their own brothers and sisters - and that all of this is not just "history".

Τουρκοκρατία (Turkish rule, 1453-1821) was followed by the Greek struggle for Independence. Μακεδονία was one of the last parts of today's Greece to be liberated from the Turks. It had to wait for independence until the Ottoman defeat in the Balkan Wars in 1912-13, which is only 70 years ago. Many of the elderly people I meet in 1983 have vivid memories of life under Turkish rule. Some 20 have not been born in Greece but in "Ottoman empire" instead. There were no Turks living in the village itself. They had settled in nearby Ανάβρυτα (Anávryta, Turkish name: Vrashen). However, they stopped by regularly to collect taxes. Τουρκοκρατία is remembered as a period of slavery and reign of terror. I also hear stories on the struggle for independence: how an entire Turkish army was defeated by throwing boulders on them from the gorge between gorge between Ζιάκας and Σπήλαιο.

The name of the village at the time was Τίστα, "terminal station". It was the last village uphill where people hibernated. In nearby Vlach villages Avdélla, Smíxi, Perivóli and Samarína, shepherds went with their flocks during the winter-months to lowlands in Albania and Thessaly.

In the nearby market town of Γρεβενά (Grevená) is a statue of Αιμιλιανός Λαζαρίδης (Emilianoú Lazarídes), who was murdered on 13 October 1912, and one of local hero Θεόδωρος Ζιάκα (Theódoros Ziáka, 1798-1882), a chieftain in the Γρεβενά region uprising against the Turks in 1854. The village itself, the main street, the cafe/shop as well as the old stone bridge - all are named after Θεόδωρος Ζιάκα. In the village school, one of the two class rooms is dedicated to this struggle of independence: Ελευθερία ή θάνατος ("liberty or death").

Θεόδωρος Ζιάκα

Statue in Γρεβενά

Class room in the village school

Kαφενείο "O Ζιάκας"

Ζιάκας before the 1940s

The picture of Ζιάκας before the 1940s is one of a (relatively) large and (relatively) prosperous community. There were 155 houses, 200 families, 750 inhabitants. The village was self-sufficient (subsistence agriculture, husbandry), keeping it safe from the global economic crisis. On the issue of the monarchy, which split the country in two, supporters of both groups (Venizelists and royalists) were more or less equally represented in Ζιάκας. Some villagers were members of the KKE (Κομμουνιστικό Κόμμα Ελλάδας, Communist Party of Greece), but it did not exist in Ζιάκας as an organised party. For this reason, Ζιάκας did not suffer much from the authoritarian Metaxás regime (Καθεστώς Μεταξά, 1936-1941). On the contrary, under Metaxás rule, construction of the road between Ζιάκας and Γρεβενά got started, providing work for some 250 persons, among them 50 villagers.

28 October 1940: The day the Greeks said Οχι

Everything changed on 28 October 1940, the day Greeks said "Οχι" and Mussolini's army invaded the country. The battle of Πίνδος (28 October-13 November) unfolded and brought the Italians as far as Samarína, but the Greek counter-forces pushed back the Italians, advancing deep into Albanian territory. Although the Greek victory over the Italian offensive of October 1940 was the first Allied land victory of the Second World War, it could not prevent the Axis take-over of their country.

Before the war, 10-15 boys from Ζιάκας served (18 months) in the army. Metaxás did not decide for a full-scale mobilisation. He did not have to. Νίκος Παπανικολάου: "We all went. My father was 40 and he went. Only those who were very old or if you had five children or so, you would stay in the village." The young and the old, both leftists and rightists. Νίκος: "More leftists, of course, but we all went together. There were no strong discrepancies in the village." [201083] I hear stories of days of fighting and surviving in the snow without food. One villager died during the War of '40.

Επέτειος του Οχι

Poster in Σπήλαιο

Παρασκευή, 28 Οκτωβρίου: Ceremony in the village

Cover of Life magazine 16 December 1940

LINKS: A unique animation feature about the Greco-Italian War in 1940
SONGS: Εσείς πουλιά πετούμενα Μάκη Σεβίλογλου - One of my favourites: Ζιάκα Νίκος Γκιουλέκας (on YouTube)