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The Weekend Neos Kosmos : 3 October 2015
DIGITAL.NEOSKOSMOS.COM THE WEEKEND NEOS KOSMOS | SATURDAY 3 OCTOBER 2015 9 BOOK REVIEW liberation GITAL.NEOSKOSMOS.COM THE WEEKEND NEOS KOSMOS | SATURDAY 3 OCTOBER 2015 9 BOOK REVIEW liberation h" h" she says, "never returned to his lost homeland, even when he could, because in reality, his homeland remained alive only in his nostalgia, and this text gives a permanent position, it immortalises it in the magic substance they had for him, the places where he lived his childhood years." t d di dimension, which keeps the past alive within us, but also releases it towards the future. The book also paves the way for fresh approaches to the past, how to write or indeed understand history from the perspective of the people who suffered it. i hi h Map of Pontos, circa 1920. In Macedonia, where they settled, having lost one of their children at the quarantine centre, Lampsidis encountered the official suspicion and persecution. (All refugees were suspects as Venizelists and were denied for years full political rights; the leading conservative journalist of the time, Angelos Vlahos, declared that they were polluting the pu- rity of the Greek race.) The young boy soon became radicalised and joined the Communist Party; hence another chapter in his life began, with exiles and imprisonment under the Metaxas dictatorship and joining the resistance against the Germans, only to see his dreams and expectations shattered by the mindless Civil War. After war's end, Lampsid- is withdrew from the irrationalism of Greek politics, renounced the official policies of the Communist Party and dedicated himself to the education of Greek peoples, leaving behind pioneering studies on the refugees of 1922, the rural problem in Greece and the demotic language. This book is a fascinating tribute to the destiny of the Pontian refugees in Greece. It is a testimony about how an individual can maintain his dignified stoicism and self-respect under the most adverse circumstances. Expelled from his homeland and persecuted in his new country, Lampsidis' life was a herald of things to come. His daughter captures the authenticity of his voice and the truth of his experience: The loss of Pontos and Asia Minor is an open wound in the Greek conscience to this day. The cycle of trauma which it inaugurated never received a collective closure and what might be called a cultural catharsis. We have a number of overwhelming documents about the Catastrophe, but what this book adds is the human dimension, the impact of history on the life and the psyche of an individual. So many decades later, the trauma remains and needs to become public discourse in order to be healed. Lampsidou's book is about memory and its liberating As Lampsidis himself concluded his story: "Whatever I have done, it exists in my biography; but if someone asked who am I, I would respond that I am someone who experienced first-hand misfortunes and nightmares yet never found in them a serious reason to deny the joys and the pleasures of life." That's the true Homeric spirit alive to this day, if there was ever one. * Vrasidas Karalis is professor of Modern Greek at the University of Sydney. Η ΑΥΤΟΒΙΟΓΡΑΦΙΑ ΤΟΥ ΠΑΤΕΡΑ ΜΟΥ (The Autobiography of My Father) by Ourania Lampisdou is published by Gavrilidis Publications, Athens.
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