Macedonian Children of the Greek Civil War
The Greek Civil War occurred in the aftermath of WWII between royal government forces supported by Great Britain and America and the Communist forces supported by Yugoslavia and Russia. During the Second World War, the royalists fled Greece and set up a government in exile in Egypt, while the communist movements played an important role in fighting German and Italian occupying troops.
At the end of WWII the royalist came back to Greece expecting to lead the country but the communists felt that since they stayed behind to defend the country, they should have a say at setting up the new government. The conflict soon erupted into a bloody civil war that lasted from 1946 to 1949.
A consequence of this conflict was a significant population transfer of over 90, 000 people, 60% of which were Greek and 40% Macedonians from Northern Greece. Most fled to the eastern block communist countries because of feared repercussions. During the conflict, children in northern Greece (named the Province of Macedonia in 1988) were being evacuated from the war front by both camps. The reasoning was to prevent collateral deaths due to the fighting as well as indoctrinate the young minds.
As a result thousands of children from the ages of 2 – 12 years old were moved on mass to safe zones. The Communist side evacuated children to Eastern block communist countries and the Royalists to southern Greece or safe zones away from the fighting. The children that were moved by the Royalist remained in Greece and were able to be reunited with their parents/relatives after the war. Most of these children were ethnically Greek, but most of the children moved by the Communists were ethnically Macedonian and they were not allowed to return to their homeland and be reunited with their parents/relatives.
It is these children who today are in their 70’s and 80’s that continue to fight for their right to return to their homeland. Canada is home to thousands of these Macedonian Child Refugees of the Greek Civil War, who as Canadian citizens are even refused entry into Greece today. We live in a world where the weak, disadvantaged, marginalized and those with alternative lifestyles are being recognized for their uniqueness. As well, in Canada today we see the federal government finally acknowledging the effect of the devastating assimilation policies of the past towards our First Nations People. The Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada (Interim Report) and They Came for the Children (Historical Document)both outline the forced assimilation of native children into the Canadian mainstream.
We would hope that the government of Greece could follow the lead of Canada in not only recognizing their discriminatory assimilation policies of ethnic minorities (especially Macedonians living in Greece) but also finally allowing these Macedonian (Canadian Citizens) child refugees of the Greek Civil War to claim their rightful place as Greek citizens of Macedonian descent.