The Life and Times of Diamantis Stylianou Hagias

By his son Stelios Diamanti Hagias


The First Years 1924-1940


Born in 24 December 1924


His mother Dimitra (nee Grammatikakis) gave birth to Diamantis in the old Costas Kafetzis house that was rented from the Psihogei. After his mother dies due to birth complications some 38 days after his birth, the young Diamantis was breast fed by Styliani Malavazos (nee Lambros) and Philippia Katsambis (nee Hagias) and to a small extent by Angeliki Malavazos (nee Hagias). He was baptised in 1925 by the Reverend Dimitris Chronis and the godmother was Kaliopi Kontoroupis (granddaughter of Dimitris Malavazos "Mazarakos”).


Margarita Hagias (1846-1929) (grandmother) -1929


Diamantis recalled having to carry the cross at the funeral of his grandmother Margarita Hagias (nee Katsambis) in 1929, and being reprimanded for moving to the front of the procession.


Splitting his Head circa 1932


At about 6-7 years of age, circa 1932, when he had just started his schooling, Diamantis tried to mount a bareback mule. Diamantis stood on a small wall which was situated just outside Karitsa at a place called  Smertia and reached up to place his hands on the back “rachi” of the donkey. When he went to mount the beast it moved away and Diamantis fell over the other side of the animal, head first onto rocks. Young children including the daughters of Theodoros Tountas and Hariklia Yianni Antonis who were playing near Diamantis helped to staunch the loss of blood by using the cloth that made up their rag dolls. Diamantis was left with a deep lifelong scar in the middle of his forehead.


Vangelis Katsambis and the Eggs – 1933


In the early 1933, Vangelis Ioanni Katsambis “Vatsouras” was a teenager attending school in Karitsa. The school’s teacher at the time, Zervakos, had given Vangelis some money to buy eggs from Karitsiotes. Vangelis dutifully went looking for someone to buy eggs from when he came across Katerina Stylianou Hagias. Vangelis asked Katerina if she had eggs to sell to which she replied that she did but didn’t have the time to take Vangelis back to her house to get them. Stylianos Hagias’ chickens would scavenge for food around his house and would then find their way to the lower level, where other animals were housed, to lay their eggs. Vangelis who came from one of Karitsa’s poorest families saw an opportunity here to make some money so he went to Stylianos’ unattended house and took the eggs. He then returned to Zervakos with the eggs, pocketing the small sum of money. When Katerina discovered the missing eggs she immediately suspected that Vangelis had taken them and went looking for him. When she found Vangelis she asked him only to admit that he had taken the eggs so that bad luck would not come to her family, but he would not. Within two months bad luck hit the family of Stylianos Hagias on the three occasions.


Firstly, Stylianos’ oldest son Diamantis shot himself through the hand at the family’s mandri (animal pen –Gk) and was taken to Agios Dimitris to live with his maternal grandfather Nikolas Grammatikakis where he attended school and recuperated from his injuries. While Diamantis was in Agios Dimitris his younger brother Georgos fell out of a tree and broke his leg. Shortly after Diamantis’ youngest brother Dimitris, a toddler at the time, fell five metres to the ground out of the upper floor window of the family home. The window was positioned high above the floor out of normal reach of a small child. At the time Dimitris’ mother Katerina had been using the window to air a thick floor rug “velentza” made of goat hair. The newly woven rug had most of its length hanging out the window so when two year old Dimitris grabbed it, the rug fell pulling him out the window to the rocks below where he hit the side of his head. As a result he lost his speech for 30 days and suffered permanent hearing impairment. 


Diamantis and the handgun – 1933


Dimitris Georgostathis "Salteris”, father of Diamantis’ stepmother Katerina, was a shepherd who used the "mandri"(holding pen) in Karitsa of his son in law Stylianos Hagias to shelter his goats during the harsh winter of his home village, Houni in the Parnon Ranges. Diamantis who was about 7 yrs of age at the time was playing in an animal shelter “Lontza" within the mandri. Also in the Lontza was his baby sister Eleni, who was bound and had been placed on the ground. Like all children Diamantis was inquisitive and soon managed to find a hidden 9 round handgun with one bullet. Upon finding the handgun he started squeezing off the trigger until he succeeded in firing off that one bullet, which passed through his left hand that had been placed over the muzzle of the gun, narrowly missing Eleni. The people in the Mandri heard the firing of the bullet and came to the Lontza to see what had happened. After giving Diamantis a well deserved slap, Dimitris "Salteris" wrapped a bandage with tobacco around his hand and wrist to staunch the bleeding. Diamantis needed to be near a doctor to tend his wound, so his father Stylianos sent him to live with his maternal grandfather Nikolas and his daughter Alexandra Grammatikakis in Agios Dimitris. So Diamantis started his sporadic schooling in Agios Dimitris and stayed there for 6 months during 1933. He was taken to Niata from Agios Dimitris to see a doctor about his wound, but the wound was healed thanks to Diamantis’ uncle Lambros Lambros of Agios Dimitris. Lambros spotted a piece of metal in Diamantis’ infected hand and exclaimed, "Natos o diavolos, kontevi navri!” Then with the aid of a pocket knife he removed the fingernail piece of detritus. Within 15 days the wound had healed and Diamantis had returned to Karitsa where his schooling virtually stopped.


Nikolas Georgou Grammatikakis “Goumas” (1864-1934)-grandfather - circa 1933


His grandson Diamantis Stylianou Hagias recalls Nikola after Diamantis shot himself through the hand near his sister Eleni’s  crib circa 1933 and then staying with his grandfather while he recovered and attending the school at Agios Dimitris for a few months. Diamantis remembered Nikolas when hiding behind the "sterna"(water tank) near his grandfather`s house in Agios Dimitris and also when playing with a red dog with rabies and saliva running from its mouth that belonged to his grandfather.



Start of a working life - 1933


Diamantis father Stylianos b1889 had spent his youth 1906-1921 in Baltimore, Maryland with his older brother Thanasis. He returned to Greece to be drafted into the Greek Army but he bribed officials to stay out of the 1919-1922 war with Turkey instead staying with his older sister 60 yo Parskevi Felouris in Athens. Around 1923 Stylianos returned to Karitsa to look after his 78yo widowed mother Margarita nee Katsambis and in the same year he married Dimitra Nikola Grammatikakis “Goumas” from Agios Dimitris of Laconia. Apart from not been able to read or write Greek, Stylianos having grown up in a large American city had little idea of the daily routine in a small village like Karitsa. Diamantis started working for his father from about eight years of age and his duties included hoeing, ploughing (kamati Gk), looking after the oxen, selling goats, all house duties as well as cutting and threshing (alonizma Gk) grain. As a young child Diamantis even had to show his father how to connect the plough (aletri Gk) to the oxen.


Sarantos Tsebelis (1877-1949) - circa 1934


Sarantos Tsebelis who had made many visits back to his homeland was recalled by Diamantis, then a boy of about 9yo remembers him on one of his last visits circa 1934. In the eyes of the Karitsiotes he was considered as an eccentric when in the middle of winter he would bath in icy streams, washing his naked body with snow on the balcony of his brother in law Constantinos Lambros’ house. He was castigated for this behaviour by his sister Marigo Lambros who would say, “Den drepese, ti kanis ekei?”  Sarantos who had lived most of his life in the concrete jungles of Baltimore and Brooklyn living in hotel apartments also loved nature and gave young children money to keep an eye out for him on villagers who were disturbing nesting birds.


Blaspheming in 1930’s


Diamantis was once watering his goat, a “maltesa”, when out of habit he started swearing. Some young girls who were nearby heard him and started laughing. The incident so embarrassed Diamantis that he consciously attempted not to swear. 


Angelis Kourtesis (1862-1946) -1930’s


Diamantis recalls that Angeli wore long white pants i.e. a “vrakes”.  Angelis didn’t attend church but on one Sunday morning Diamantis saw him high up a steep cliff at the “Tounteiko Roumani” facing east praying in the direction of Evangelistra, Karitsa’s main church.


Georgos Yianni Vourvouriotis (1850-1947) – 1930’s


The first person with the name Vourvouriotis was a Yiannis from an unknown family out of the village of Vourvoura near Tripoli who circa 1800 settled and married in Kosmas hence taking the name Vourvouriotis. In Vourvoura there is a family by the name of Stratigikis whose appearance, reddish complexion, curly hair and blue green eyes is characteristic of the Vourvouriotis family in Karitsa and Kosmas. Yiannis had children including a Lambros whose son Yiannis left Kosmas to settle in Karitsa. Folklore has it that Yiannis came to Karitsa after marrying Panagiota Constantinou Dimitri Malavazos, the auntie of Yiannis Malavazos “Bey” who was pregnant to another man . Their son Georgos acquired from Karitsiotes the tag of "Moulato" or “Moulos” i.e. born from an unknown father. Over time the family name changed from Vourvouriotis to Georgos grandfather’s name of Lambros. Georgos married Katerina the daughter of Spiros Panagioti Hagias and when Diamantis Hagias was a small boy he would hear Georgos say to his wife, “Katerina tou Hagia,  pame stou Siorbanou gia doulia!” i.e. Katerina, daughter of Hagias, let’s go above Karitsa at Siourbanou to work.


Eating from the Mouria circa 1935


Constantinos Malavazos “Constantiroumanos” had a Mouria (mulberry) tree in the garden of his house. Diamantis had gone to the Mouria climbing onto its highest branch to eat berries and down below was his friend Diamantis Michali Malavazos . The two had thought it being midday everyone would be asleep but Constantiroumanos had being watering his goats at a pigadi (well) above Karitsa and was returning to his house to eat and take a midday nap before returning to gather his goats late in the afternoon. The tree was large and in an elevated position and as Constantiroumanos came to his house he saw Diamantis in the tree. On seeing the boys he wound up his Shepherd’s staff (magoura) and hurled it into the tree where Diamantis leapt to the ground to save himself. In later years he described the noise of the flying magoura as akin to a helicopter blade.


Petros Rogakos- Karitsa teacher 1935-37


Petros from Kokkinolouri of Mani came to Karitsa as a teacher having served previously elsewhere. On one of the few days that Diamantis attended school a son of Yiannis Malavazos “Prasas” told the teacher that Diamantis had been blaspheming i.e. “to Christo sou kai tin Panagia sou”. Diamantis protested his innocence but Petros Rogakos hated bad language and so gave Diamantis a belting. At the end of each school day 2 students were assigned to clean the school and when they finished cleaning they would return the school key to the teacher at his house. Petros stayed at a variety of houses, including the home of Yiannis Malavazos "Bey". Petros was also godparent to Georgos Malavazos, the son of Papa Anastasi who tragically died with his mother within days of his birth. He was eventually dismissed as a teacher by village officials including Mitsos Katsambis and Diamantis Antonis “Psihogios” after discovering wrongdoing in the council’s accounts. As he was leaving the church bells were rung in lots of 3, mimicking a dirge, as a sign of derision towards him.


Diamantis’ first paid job - 1938


At about 13 years of age Diamantis took his first paid job, paid 500 drachmae for working on a fig farm for one month. The farm owned by Vasilis Aliferis who was married with 2 young sons Yiannis and Constantinos “Dinos” was in the midst of other fig farms and about 3km outside the village of Papadianika of Laconia on a plain (kambos Gk).The figs were left to ripen (orimasoun Gk) on the tree after which Diamantis and other workers would knock the figs of the tree with large bamboos. The figs were then picked off the ground and put into bamboo vases (kofinia Gk) that were in turn loaded onto pack animals and then collected in a nearby shelter (tsardi or paranga Gk). Outside the shelter the figs were spread on a bed (5m x 5m) of smooth sea pebbles to dry and depending on the amount of sunshine the figs were turned over in about 2 days. The dried figs were loaded onto mules, donkeys and horses sometimes with cart and taken by Diamantis and the Aliferis family to the nearby seaside village of Plitra which had a deep harbour. Ships from various countries e.g. Germany and France came to Plitra to load the figs which were warehoused near the shore. After the ships were tied to the jetty (molos Gr) their cargo of figs was loaded. With the 500 drachmae Diamantis received for his month’s work he bought a fashionable cap (tragiaska Gk) and the rest his father used to buy medicine for his 3rd wife Katerina nee Georgostathis who was ill at the time.



German occupation and The First Antartiko 1940-44


28 October 1940 - Ochi Day



In 1940, the families of Diamantis Hagias and Vangelis Malavazos “Makarios” would each contribute oxen as to form a pair, which were coupled by a wooden collar “zigo”, for the purpose of sowing seeds. On the 28th Oct 1940, Diamantis and Vangelis had finished sowing “fakies, koukia and viko” and had released the oxen to graze at a place below Karitsa called “Ta Handakia”. On their way back to Karitsa they were at a “htima” (property) that was surrounded by trees known as “Stou Blatsona ti Lakitsa” when they came across Vangelis’ sister Margarita who had her hands clasped in her apron and tears steaming down her face. They asked her, “ti epathes?” and she replied, “Polemos ginete” while continuing to cry. The pair then went to the house of Papa Anastasis Malavazos who had the only wind up telephone to find out the latest news and found the rest of Karitsa there, anxious and apprehensive about the impending war with the Italians. Here Lambros Tountas “Mikrouchis” hoping to lift their spirits stands up and says, “Pou pate re ego eime kinigos, bam! Ston aera, tha tous kefaliazo san perdikes kato” (come on people, I’m a hunter, I’ll shoot them like partridges from the sky, bang! in the head). About 30 Karitsiotes were of the right age to serve in the Greek Army and were given the order to mobilize on the 28th Oct 1940. The next day they made their way to Tripoli to begin readying themselves for war in Albania. Karitsiotes to die in the Albanian campaign were Stylianos Thanasi Antonis “Psihogios” and Constantinos Panagioti Tountas “Tsouhlis”. Nikolas Georgou Hagias came back to Karitsa but died shortly afterwards from his wounds. The Italians failed to break Greek resistance and had to rely on the intervention of the Germans. The Greek campaign delayed the German attack on the Soviet Union “Operation Barbarossa” long enough to see it fail hence contributing to the eventual defeat of the Germans in WW2.


Constantinos Tsebelis “Lordos”



*At the beginning of the German occupation of Greece in 1941, Nikolas Profiris and Yiannis Malavazos "Bey" were in the Agora of Karitsa discussing the possible food shortages arising from the German-Italian occupation of Greece. Constantinos "Lordos" overheard them and replied, "Kako gia sas, ego eime mathimenos!” i.e. bad luck about your hunger, but I’m accustomed to it said Lordos who had the name because he was one of Karitsa’s poorest residents (6).


Constantinos Antonis “Pseftis”



Around 1941 Diamantis and some other villagers were working at the htima of Constantinos Antonis at a place known as “Oi Trambales”. Constantinos said to Diamantis and the others “Na eisaste kali anthropi. Na mi lete psemata” (Be good people and don’t lie). Diamantis asked Constantinos who was renowned for bending the truth, especially in front of magistrates, “Giati Barba Costa esena se lene Psefti?” and Constantinos reply was: “To psema mou einai to alati tis alithias!” In other words, just as salt is used in everyday life so were the lies of Constantinos.


Andreas Antonis



In the early 1940’s Andreas Yianni Antonis, had been working in Crete for about 2 years in a “karagiozi” puppet theatre without his family knowing where or how he was. When he returned to Karitsa, he went to his father Yiannis “Tsiribis” and asked for his “meridhio” (inheritance). His father looks at him and says in his own idiosyncratic manner, “uuuufffff, uuuuffff Theotoumbi, pou to vrikes to meridio, edoulepses?” Although Andreas died as guerrilla at the hands of the Hites, Diamantis who knew him very well considered he was never committed to the guerrilla’s cause as was his wife Katerina. Andreas was a carefree person who put enjoying the pleasures of life including the pursuit of women above mundane work and anything else. His father Yiannis “Tsiribis” was a devout Christian, so he would never blaspheme but instead used words like Theotoumbi when he was angered. This practice of using alternatives to blaspheming was also used by Christos Constantinou Malavazos “Krekos” who passed away in 1946 and he would say, “to eftagono sou” when angered.


Sewing cotton in Skala – January 1941



Diamantis worked in Skala, ploughing (kamateve Gk) cotton fields for three months from around January 1941. Diamantis stayed in a building housing a bakery owned by the Skalkos family, which consisted of an upper level where Diamantis lived a lower level for the bakery. Diamantis had been sowing cotton around Skala, with enormous oxen pulling an iron plough. As Diamantis, would later recall, “Beasts the size of elephants” (Vodia san elephantes! Gk) . A few months later during the summer, when buying cigarettes for Theodoros Stavrianos on the black market from this shop, Diamantis found himself in trouble with the law.


Germans in Laconia 1941-42



During the early part of the Occupation, the Germans attacked with Stuka fighter-bombers, British forces that were assisting Greek guerrilla activity in Laconia. The British were fleeing to the port of Monemvasia where they were to be taken away by submarines. At this time, Diamantis was in the village of Skala when a Stuka dropped a bomb and machine-gunned the village, hitting a house some 300 metres away from him and fortunately, no one was hurt. In Skala Diamantis had been ploughing “orgone” weeds in cotton fields using oxen and also working in rice fields.


*Katerina Hagias remembers as a 6yo when the Germans marched into Karitsa that she and her young friends took fright at the sight of the Germans, taking grain and food and hiding in a cave at “Aetofolia” that overlooked Karitsa(2). As soon as the Germans entered Karitsa, Greeks who had been working for the Germans as interpreters put out the word for all of Karitsa to gather at Evangelistra. It is unknown if the Greek interpreters worked willingly or under duress.


The occupying German Army came to Karitsa on 2 occasions and the Italians entered on one occasion, on a Sunday night.


Working in Grammousa –May 1941



At 16 years of age around May 1941 Diamantis went to work in vineyards around Grammousa, including a plot of land (htima Gk) belonging to Leonidas Kotsonis whose daughter, Vasiliki, would later marry Diamantis Michali Malavazos “Roumanos”. In the absence of tractors used in vineyards, Diamantis and another 100-150 men moved around Grammousa levelling the soil around the vines with their hoes. During the winter around February, the earth in the vineyard had been mounded between the vines to suffocate emerging weeds. Diamantis’ job was to break the mounds and level the vineyard so allowing broken clumps of soil to surround the vine root for the spring rains to stay near the root of the vine during budding. Raising the level of the soil around the vine also protected the roots from the sun when the earth cracked during the summer. The levelling of the earth was done by men in gangs from four up to ten who worked adjacent to each other, each working his row. The work in the vineyard started at dawn and finished at dusk by which time the workers were totally exhausted. Payment was by way of goods such as oil or grain since the Greek currency had collapsed after the German occupation (katohi Gk).


Various sayings were associated with gangs of vineyard workers.


Protoergati, koloergati

The first and last man in the gang



Evga elie, evga ergati

Katse elie, katse ergati   


The sun rises, the worker rises,

The sun sets, the worker rests.


Death of Christos Koutsovitis- 18 May 1941


Christos Koutsovitis from Agrianous and later Geraki of Laconia was murdered on the 18 May 1941 by a close family member. It was speculated that an argument between Christos and his killer about the boundaries of a field (horafi Gk) that the killer had received as dowry (prika Gk), ended in the murder of Christos. After slaying Christos, the killer dismembered the body of Christos, using a pruning saw. As Greece was under German occupation, the killer wasn’t prosecuted for his crime. 


Buying black market cigarettes in Skala – summer 1941



During the German occupation when Diamantis was around sixteen years of age, he together with Theodoros Stavrianos “Kapetan Gri” and Mitsos Malavazos “Roumeliotis” were weeding (skalizane Gk) with their hoes on a cotton farm in Skala. Stavrianos asked Diamantis to buy him a packet of cigarettes.


Stavrianos “Go and get me a small packet of cigarettes” (Pigene kai pare mou ena paketo tsigara, mikra! Gk)


Stavrianos gave Diamantis money to go to a bakery (fourno Gk) in Skala to buy cigarettes that were sold there on the black market. Diamantis had previously resided on the upper level of the building housing the bakery when working a few months earlier that year in Skala. The German occupation brought about the collapse of the Greek economy although the Greek currency was still circulating and the start of the black market. The Greek police were armed and courts were still functioning and they were on the lookout for black marketers. Diamantis went to the bakery and bought the cigarettes, not thinking what he done was illegal. He walked out of the bakery that was owned by the Skalkos family, of who one was a Yiannis Skalkos and outside on to a street corner. Diamantis had the packet of cigarettes in his hand and was about to put them in his pocket when a policeman from Skala who was standing on the adjacent corner spotted him with the cigarettes. The policeman came up to Diamantis and questioned him about the cigarettes.


Policeman “What have you got in your pocket?” (Ti eheis, stin tsepi sou? Gk)


Diamantis “Cigarettes!” (Tsigara Gk)


Policeman “How much did you pay for them?” (Poso ta pires? Gk)


By now, Diamantis sensed he might be in trouble. Here he made the decision not to tell the policeman the true price he paid for the cigarettes so instead of twenty drachmae he told the policeman he had paid ten drachmae, which was half the cost.


Policeman “Ok, let’s go to police headquarters” (En taxi, pame sto tmima Gk)


Diamantis went to the police station where he made a statement and the police charged the proprietor of the bakery for selling cigarettes on the black market. Diamantis was told that when the matter went to court he had to come to the court in Sparti to appear as a prosecution witness.


Diamantis went back to his work in the cotton fields of Skala.



Argos to Papadianika – the winter of late 1941



In 1941, Dinos Koroneos of Papadianika had travelled to Argos together with another man to barter for tobacco with olive oil. After they had loaded their tobacco onto pack animals, the two men, together with a young 12-year-old boy from Argos, headed towards Kosmas but a snow blizzard trapped them at a place called “Mavro Roumani” near Agios Vasilis. Dinos’ offsider from Papadianika was lost in the blizzard but miraculously found his way over Parnonas, walking all night and reaching the Maroudeiko Hani, a travellers’ inn owned by the Maroudas family, at Kakavouri. Diamantis, who was working and boarding with Socrates Maroudas at the time, remembers Dinos’ friend in a terrible state, torn clothes, shoes wrecked and his feet bleeding. After waiting for the snowstorm to abate, Dinos and his helpers from Agios Vasilis reached Kosmas, where the men from Agios Vasilis returned home and villagers from Kosmas helped Dinos to carry the tobacco to Kakavouri. Upon reaching the Maroudeiko Hani at Kakavouri the Kosmites returned home and Diamantis who was then about 16 years old was asked by Socrates Maroudas to help Dinos and the young boy deliver the tobacco to Papadianika. 


It was the beginning of lent and the group ate “sikotargia” (fried liver) at the Maroudeiko Hani before loading the tobacco onto the mule of Dimitris “Mitsos” Christou Vlahos and the mare of Dimitris Maroudas “Loulos”. Each animal was loaded with six sacks of tobacco from Argos. It was the time of the “Katohi” (Occupation) and Italian soldiers were in the area so Diamantis and the others preferred taking the “monopatia” (walking tracks) to avoid them. They left the hani, passing outside Gouves and then outside and past Bezani towards the beach at Bouka where they travelled through densely wooded shallow lakes before finally reaching a deep river that they couldn’t cross. Here they waded into the sea at the mouth of the river and then moved back onto land at the opposite side. 


They continued their travels on a coastal path passing Kokkinia, a small village of a few houses, and headed towards the village of Elia. The path to Elia, however, was blocked due to the landslide of a coastal cliff, so the group again waded into the sea to get around the landslide and continued towards Elia. Avoiding the landslide had slowed the group, so in the late afternoon and with the light fading they decided to spend the night on the road by the sea. With winter approaching and with a freezing wind blowing off the sea, sleeping on the ground was out of the question so the three of them stood upright all night long moving their bodies to keep warm. The next day they passed outside Elia and finally reached Papadianika where they unloaded the tobacco.


Bravely, the young boy left Papadianika for Argos by himself with animals loaded with olive oil to take back as payment for the tobacco. The return journey to Argos for such a young boy was extremely hazardous and his fate was unknown. Diamanti started his way back to Geraki around two o’clock in the afternoon with the two pack animals belonging to Vlahos and Maroudas. Riding one of the animals and the other in tow on a rope, Diamantis took the main road to Molaous and then Apidia before taking a “monopati” past Agios Dimitris, then riding through Alepochori and finally reaching the Maroudeiko Hani around midnight. 


When Diamantis was outside Agios Dimitris at Mikra Niata, a young boy, Elias Kostas, suffering from hunger recognised Diamantis and shouted to him, “Diamanti!, ehis ligo psomi giati pinao!” (Diamantis!, do you have some bread for I am hungry). Diamantis replied he did not although he had a small portion for his return to Geraki. Even in old age, Diamantis laments this incident and has an enduring regret for not giving Elias the bread.


In later years, Elia’s daughter Ekaterina was adopted by his sister Georgia who had married Diamantis’ first cousin Diamantis Panagiotis Hagias. Diamantis worked and boarded with Socrates Maroudas for about eight months and at the end his payment was a sack of “krithari” (barley) to take back to his family in Karitsa.





Dimitris Anastasi Tountas “Kalivas” – 1942

Around the year 1942 while hunting birds with a shotgun, Dimitris came across a member of the Italian occupation forces. The Italian soldier ordered Dimitris to lay down his weapon which he refused to do. He instead fired birdshot at the soldier, wounding him and after an ensuing struggle the soldier died .While on the run he is told mistakenly that his wife and children had been killed. Tragically, thinking his family was dead, Dimitris, a burglar who always kept in his satchel a bottle of poison to "silence" barking guard dogs, took the poison and despite the best efforts of the villagers, he died within a few days.


Yiannis Zachariadis “Antoniou”- early 1940’s



Yiannis of Alepochori worked at Vriniko, which was between Bezani and Vlachiotis. Diamantis remembers Yiannis used to cut a water melon down its shortest length into halves. Demosthenes would scoop out and eat the flesh of the melon and then into the empty shell of the melon he would put pieces of tomato, cucumber and onions with olive oil and salt to make a tomato salad (tomatosalata Gk).


Going to court in Skala – summer 1942



In the summer of 1942, Diamantis was due to appear in the court of Sparti as a witness in the prosecution of the owners of the bakery in Skala who had been caught selling cigarettes to him on the black market twelve months previously. Before leaving for Sparti, Diamantis went and saw Mitsos Katsambis, asking him for advice as he had long experience in court matters.


Diamantis “What will happen if I don’t go?” (Ean den pao, ti tha gini? Gk).


Mitsos “Your fate depends on the situation (political)” (Exartate apo tin katastasi Gk). “However if the Germans force the dissolution of the Greek police, then nothing will happen” (Ean oi Germanoi piesoun tin astinomia kai dialisi, den sou kanoun tipota Gk). “If the police remain strong as they are now, then you may be convicted with a fine” (Ean e astinomia ischei kai kratithi  opos einai, bori na se dikasoune, tha plirosis Gk).


Diamantis set out on the 50km to Sparti by foot but he was unsure how to get there. Halfway to Sparti and walking quickly, he came across three or four men on horseback from Niata who were also travelling to Sparti and he asked one of them for directions.


Diamantis “Sir, I want to go to Sparti, which is the road there?” (Barba thelo na pao sti Sparti, apo pou pai o dromos? Gk)


Horseman “Come with us young man, we are also going there (Sparti)” (Ela konta leventi, ke emeis pame gia mesa (Sparti) Gk).


Diamantis followed the horsemen until they reached the Eurotas River and here he jumped on a horse to ride tandem across the flowing river. After setting out from Karitsa at daybreak, Diamantis arrived in Sparti that afternoon after an eight hour journey. The defendants from Skala met Diamantis that afternoon in Sparti and offered him money and lodging (xenodochio Gk) if he said certain things and changed his story. Diamantis told the defendants that he was not going to be pressured to change his story in court.





Diamantis explained to them “I helped you, by not telling the authorities the price I paid for the cigarettes” (Ego sas glitosa, dioti den ipa poso ta pira, tin akrivia oso ta poulisate Gk). “I have done what I can for you, so now leave me alone!” (Ekeino pou boraga na sas kano, to eho kani, aseme isiho! Gk)Boys, I am going to say in court what I have previously said” (Leventes mou, tha po oti eipa Gk). “The policeman wrote down everything I told him, my statement has been recorded, how can I change it now and why?” (O astinomos, oti tou eipa to egraphe, ta ehoun grammena, pos tha ta alaxo ego, na po ala tora, giati? Gk) “So you can get me put in jail!, no it’s better that you go there” (Na me valete filaki emena!, ohi, kalitera na pate esis Gk).



Diamantis recalled, “They tried to get me into trouble, put me jail!” (Pigane na me teliosoune, na me valoun filaki Gk).



Diamantis told the defendants that he was not going to be pressured to change his story in court.


Diamantis needed a bed for the night but he didn’t have the money so he went outside of Sparti and there he found a plot of land (htima Gk) with an olive tree, under which he slept that night. The next day Diamantis went to the court in Sparti where he was questioned.


Court “What do you know?” ( Ti xeris? Gk)


Diamantis “I don’t know anything” (Den xero tipota Gk). “I went and  got a packet of cigarettes for a certain person” (Piga kai pira ena paketo tsigara, me estile o tade Gk). “I don’t smoke, I bought them for another person” (Ego den kapnizo, ta pira gia alone Gk).


Diamantis summarised, “I bought a packet of cigarettes and a policeman caught me, then I was taken to the police station where I made a statement”. (Pira ena paketo tsigara, me ide o astinomikos, me pige sto tmima, mou pire katathesi Gk). “What the policeman has written, that’s what I’ve said, I have nothing further to add.” (Oti sas graphi o astinomos, auta eipa, den xero tipote alo parapera Gk).


After answering to the court, Diamantis was told that he could leave but he never learnt what happened to the defendants.


After the court case, Diamantis had a look around Sparti and then around 3pm he headed back to Karitsa “Hazepsa ligo sti Sparti kai tote podarono gia tin Karitsa Gk). Diamantis headed back to Karitsa using the main road, which made the journey longer and not the narrow pathways (monopatia Gk) he had used the previous day in going to Sparti because they would have been dangerous to walk along at night. The only light he had to see his way at night was the starlight but Diamantis recalled, “I could see like a cat!” (evlepa san gata! Gk). In darkness, Diamantis reached the outskirts of Karitsa but he was so exhausted he went and lay behind a wall in a field where he fell asleep. After a short sleep, he was woken by the crowing of Karitsa’s roosters and just before dawn Diamantis reached the front door of his house where as he entered the house his father Stylianos was going outside to urinate. A short time later, the Greek courts and police ceased functioning.



Anastasis Dimitri Tountas – 1943



Anastasis returned to Karitsa after serving in the Greek Army during the Albanian war 1940-1 against the Italians and Germans with his weapons. Some time after his father Dimitris "Kalivas” had killed the Italian trooper and suicided, Anastasis was on the run from the Italians and Germans at a place known as "Sto Skirdo Tou Pouliou" near Alepochori when he came across a meeting of guerrillas and a Briton ,who had been parachuted to help organize Greek resistance to the German occupation. When confronted by the participants of the meeting Anastasis opened fire, killing the Briton. The guerrillas pursued him to Neochori of Kynouria where he was killed after being betrayed to the guerrillas by a relative. He died having never married.





Only rarely did the Germans come to Karitsa, they were garrisoned in the larger towns of Sparti, Molaous, Gythion and Monemvasia. During the period of 1941-44” The First “Antartiko”, the villages of the region were essentially run by the Greek Resistance who in the main were communists. A person who wanted to travel between villages required written permission (travel papers), stamped by the village “politofilakes” (polites pou filane i.e. civilian protectors or clandestine civilian police). Travel papers had to be presented immediately on request to the politofilakes of the destination village. The politofilakes were the civilian arm of the guerrillas in the First Antartiko and were active even in large towns like Sparti that had a German Army presence although knowing that if caught by the Germans, they faced immediate execution. Politofilakes would appropriate positions of authority in the village between themselves, such as “judges” to settle e.g. property disputes. Karitsiotes involved in the First Antartiko were; Pantelis Constantinou Malavazos “Malamas”, Theodoros Georgou Stavrianos, Grigoris Dimitri Hagias , Dimitris “Mitsos” and Panagiotis sons of Spiros Malavazos “Roumeliotis” and Vasilis Yianni Malavazos “Bey”.



Staying safe in deadly times -1941-44


During the German-Italian occupation, Diamantis spent little time in Karitsa, feeling he would at some point clash with the politofilakes of the village thus endangering his life. In early 1941, he went to live in Skala and later on that year, he went to Geraki. After a short stay in Geraki, he moved to a small desolate horafi at Baltisa which lies between Vlachioti, Bezani, Gouves and Apidia. The horafi some 5km from Vlachioti had running water(creek) and a few gardens was owned by Panagiotis Tsoromokos a married man (about 60yo) with no children from Alepochori. One of Diamantis jobs was to rake stones from terraced fields (lahidia Gk) in which vegetables were grown. Diamantis spent 2 years in Baltisa, rarely going back to Karitsa knowing the members of ELAS in Karitsa would have made him run errands, do guard duty and deliver letters between villages, things which he did not want to and which would have also endangered his life from the Hites (anti communist militia).Diamantis saw many in ELAS as lazy opportunists, some were adventurers and a few he saw as honourable and descent with genuine beliefs such as Theodoros Tountas “Karamelos”. In the years Diamantis was away from Karitsa he did return for a short time on about 3 occasions, telling no one where he was staying. During one of these visits Georgos Yianni Katsambis “Lira” or “Kasidis” whose father had migrated to Greece remarked to Diamantis “den tha se kanoume kokkino kai sena?” and he replied “na afisoume kai kanena mavro, ochi oli oli”. Not knowing if Kasidis would report him to the politofilakes and the guerrillas, he quickly returned to Baltisa. Even though Kasidis was in with the politofilakes and the guerrillas, he was a pragmatist who saw the second Antartiko as doomed and later joined the Greek Army when drafted. During his time in the Greek Army he fought in battles with guerrillas where one of his colleagues was Thanasis Antonis of Karitsa. During a battle a piece of shrapnel hit him in the testicles, meaning he was unable to have children, but he recovered and other physical functions returned, as Georgos told his fellow soldier and Karitsioti; Thanasis Yianni Antonis "piga kai to dokimasa, kai doulevi!” (I went and tried it out, and it works!). When he was released from the army he stayed in Athens to where he went after the end of the First Antartiko and continued his trade as a tailor never returning to Karitsa.


Anastasis Tountas “Kalivas” had just come back from the Albanian campaign with his weapons when his father Dimitris killed an Italian soldier and later suicided. Anastasis was on the run from the Italians and Germans when by chance he came across a secret meeting at  “Sto Skirdo tou Pouliou” near Alepochori between guerrillas and an Englishman who had parachuted in to assist the guerrillas. Anastasis was confronted by the guerrillas, and when he opened fire he killed the Englishman. Anastasis was then pursued by the guerrillas till found in Neochori after being betrayed and then he was executed.


EPON-The youth wing of ELAS

During the first Antartiko, ELAS also formed its youth wing the, EPO,  and its members received indoctrination in Karitsa from a visiting teacher who came once a fortnight. These young villagers were called Eponites and some of its members were children of Karitsiotes associated with ELAS. The majority of Karitsa’s youth did not join EPON as this would have meant aligning the parents with ELAS and the left. The Karitsiotes who were with ELAS did well in this period especially in the provision of food. Many a time, villagers who were virtually starving would see Karitsa’s antartes coming to the village with enormous provisions i.e. like a slaughtered 300kg Oxen which had been taken from other villages as generally the antartes didn’t steal from their fellow villagers. Karitsiotes didn’t die on masse as did people in large cities like Athens but hunger caused some to eat dangerous things such as poisonous wild beans. These beans caused the person eating them to become very ill for a long time .Many resented seeing the antartes eating well and dressing well with the clothes they had stolen so when the tide turned against ELAS after 1945 words were written about their demise.


To fagane, to fagane

To arni me to piperi

Eminane oi Eponitisses

Me to vraki sto heri!


* EPON would gather for meetings and even making sweets (glyka Gk) at the vacant house of Constantinos Nikolaou Malavazos “Kostis” who was then living with his family in Portsmouth, Ohio.


Nikoleta , the wife of ELAS guerrilla leader Theodoros Stavrianos,  would encourage her neighbour Katerina Hagia “Stylianou” to send her daughters, Eleni and Dimitroul, to go to the EPON meetings. However, the family of Stylianos Hagias stayed out of partisan politics during the years of occupation and civil war as did the Profiris family.


Nikoleta “Come on, send your girls, go on let them go (to Costi’s house)” (Ela pia, den stelnis ta koritsia na pane, asta koritsia na pane Gk)


Katerina “Leave them off it Nikoleta, they are young girls” (Asta more Nikoleta, mikra paedia einai Gk)


Nikoleta “No! What’s the reason you don’t want to send your daughters there?” (Ochi! Pia giati den afinis ta koritsia na pane eki pera? Gk) (1

Italians in Karitsa-1944


*After the surrender of Italy to the Allies in 1944, Italian troops hid amongst Karitsiotes in fear of vengeful German troops. There were 9-10 of these troops in Karitsa at the time of the Italian surrender but only two of these stayed in Karitsa with the others going in lots of one or two to neighbouring villages. Of the two who stayed in Karitsa one was called Piero and the other Antonio. Antonio was first taken in by Michalis Tountas and then by Mitsos Katsambis after the death of Michalis near the monastery of Panagia Elona. Piero who was a pharmacist by profession stayed with the family of Spiros Leonida Hagias during his 3 year stay in Karitsa. Piero worked as a normal villager and his tasks included looking after Leonidas’ goats at night and as well he also learnt how to read and write Greek.

After they had spent a few months in Karitsa, Antonio and Piero decided that it was time to go home and as they were travelling over Parnonas  towards the port of Leonidion for their repatriation they noticed a flock of crows flying overhead at a place called Agios Elias(Ai Lia) . Piero took this as a bad omen and instead of continuing his journey to Leonidion he returned to Karitsa. Antonio however continued and stories were later heard that the ship carrying returning the Italian troops was sunk by the Germans or even that the Italians were massacred by German soldiers who boarded the boat. Piero returned to Italy around 1947 and he wrote to Leonidas, the son of Spiros Hagias to thank his family for saving his life (8).


The guerrillas lose their treasure-1944



*At the time of the death of Michalis Tountas at Kotroni guerrillas attacked Molaous and emptied a clothing store of its entire contents. The clothes were taken to  the house of Maroulitsa Anastasi Hagias and after being hidden in the basement of the house a door was built across the archway “kamara” of the house to conceal the clothes. In May 1944 the Hites Leader Panagiotis Katsareas of Mani was told secretly by a villager where the clothing had been hidden. Katsareas came to Karitsa and asked to know the whereabouts of the ”Sotireiko spiti” (home of Sotiris Malavazos). Maroulitsa Hagias was living in the home of her father Sotiris Malavazos which she had received as dowry for her marriage to Anastasis Hagias. Katsareas was taken to Maroulitsa's house some 2-3 times and each time he said, “ this is not her house!” obviously not to let anyone know of his intentions. Katsareas commandeered around 15-20 mules with their owners from Karitsa to move the guerrillas’ booty from Karitsa and to unload it at Neapolis and Levetsova. The Karitsiotes and their mules then returned to Karitsa probably fearing retribution if the guerrillas obtained their identities. Three of these Karitsiotes who helped Katsareas were Leonidas Christou Tountas, Leonidas Georgou Tountas “Leonidaki” and Yiannis Constantinou Antonis “Pseftis. According to Georgos Tsebelis “Farmakis” this incident happened on “Lambri” (Easter Sunday) which by the Julian calendar that was used then fell on the 3 April 1944. On the first Thursday after Lambri on the 7 April 1944 the guerrillas went to Georgos and asked him why he had betrayed the hiding place of the clothes and although frightened he said he had done no such thing but the guerrillas were adamant he had. Along with  Spiros Kritikos, Leonidas Georgiou Tountas and Panagiotis Thanasi Kritikos, Georgos Tsebelis was held in Karitsa at Maroulitsa's house for about ten days. The four were then taken to Geraki where the guerrillas’ leader was the Kosmiti, Apalodimas (Constantinos?) and they were held with other detainees at a Malavazos house which was used as a holding cell. About 15 days after been taken to Geraki the guerrillas decided who was and who wasn’t guilty of betraying the guerrillas’ booty to Katsareas. Tragically for Panagiotis Kritikos and Leonidas Tountas they were condemned to death by the guerrillas and taken to Panagia Elona (The monastery was then used as a base and a gaol by the guerrillas)just like fellow Karitsiotes, Leonidas Christou Tountas and Yiannis Antoniou ”Pseftis”, who had shortly before been executed there. Panagiotis Thanasi Kritikos had been living in Kounoupia and at one stage was a guerrilla himself. Georgos Tsebelis was sentenced by the guerrillas to internal exile to Richia, Laconia for 50 days and was given travel documents which indicated where and who to see in Richia as well as nature of his exile. Georgos left Geraki on a Thursday for Karitsa and by the next Monday he had left for Richia. Since it is believed that the execution of Leonidas Tountas and Panagiotis Kritikos were carried out on the same day Georgos Tsebelis was released i.e. Thursday the 2 most likely dates for their execution are 28 April or the 5 May 1944(10). Guerrillas and their politofilakes then arrested Michalis Panagioti Tountas at his home saying they had found evidence from a battle at Milia of Mani that indicated he had betrayed their treasure to Katsareas. Michalis was taken outside of Mitsos Katsambis’ taverna for a show trial where he was pronounced guilty by two guerrillas from Geraki after which he was supposed to be taken to Geraki. However some 5km outside Karitsa at Kotroni (a landmark which was 200m from the kaliva of Pantelis Tsebelis “Farmakis”) on the 15 May 1944 Michalis was killed with hoes by his fellow Karitsiotes.


 Karitsa’s poet Constantinos Rozaklis penned this poem which describes an event which happened many times during the Greek Civil War but Diamantis Hagias thinks here is dedicated to Leonidas Christou Tountas of Karitsa who was killed by guerrillas at Elona -as recalled by Constantinos daughter in law Katerina nee Michali Malavazos.



* Αγώνα πέρασε πολύ το άραχνο τη νύχτα,

δίχως καρδούλα και ψυχή εβγήκε από την τρύπα. 

Σιγά σιγά το πάτησε και πάει πάρα πέρα,

και ο ουρανός άστραψε και του φάνηκε ότι ήταν σφαίρα.

Και πάλι επερπάτησε και πάει σε μια γυναίκα,

λίγο νερό της γύρεψε για να έπλενε καμπόσο αίμα.

Νερό η σκύλα του έδωκε και ήπιε ο καημένος,

και τότε της διηγήθηκε ότι ήταν τραυματισμένος.

Και ψυχικό της έπεσε σε μέρος να τον κρύψει,

ότι και αν της έταξαν να μην το μαρτυρήσει.

Και εκείνη η αθεότιμη το πρόστυχο το γένος,

του Θωμά του μίλησε και του λέει εδώ είναι ένας κρυμμένος

Και ο φονιάς τον άρπαξε στην τρύπα τον επάει,

και το κεφάλι του έκοψε και μέσα στην τρύπα τον ξαναπετάει




Georgos Antoniou “Psihogios” 1944-46



Sotiros Anastasi Hagias who had migrated to the US  visited Greece in 1934 and returned shortly after with his nephews Georgos Thanasi Antoniou “Psihogios” and Constantinos Antoni Tountas “Tsouhlis”. Constantinos “Gus” Tountas never returned to Greece but Georgos Antoniou was to make an unexpected return. Georgos “Psihogios” was serving with the US Army in North Africa but in 1944 he had his weapons taken from him and put behind barbed wire in an Egyptian concentration camp presumably because of his political activities. Despite almost all of Georgos family being politically on the Right, by the 1940’s Georgos had become a communist during the Great Depression in the US. In early 1945 the Americans removed Georgos from the concentration camp, stripped him of his passport and deported him to Greece where he landed in Piraeus. From Piraeus Georgos made his way back to Karitsa where he stayed in his parents home. In Karitsa Georgos worked on his families “htimata” (plots of land) but acknowledging the politics of his elder brother Diamantis who was a Hites he did not join the Greek Left in the emerging civil war. Georgos tried in vain to regain his US passport but to no avail, the US government had next to his name like that of Dimitris Georgou Katsambis “Barba Jimmy “NEVER TO RETURN”. During 1946 Leonidas Malavazos “Mourhoutas” who was Karitsa council president together with his deputy Diamantis “Psihogios” managed to create new identity papers for Georgos “Psihogios” in which he assumed the identity of his 1st cousin Georgos Antoniou “Loulos”. So, with his new identity, Georgos “Psihogios” returned to the US but some years later he returned to Greece where he married a girl from Vlahiotis.


The Second Antartiko 1945-49


The end of the German Occupation in Dec 1944 saw the return from Cairo of the Greek government in exile of Georgos Papandreou and the end of the First Antartiko. Between the years 1945-49 the Greek Left “Demokratikos Stratos Ellados” with assistance from The Soviet Union and Yugoslavia fought a civil against the Greek government which was aided by the British, Americans and right wing militias.


By 1945 many Karitsiotes who participated in the First Antartiko either as politofilakes or as guerrillas had the choice of returning to village life with any retribution that might follow, to return to the hills as guerrillas “ figane gia to klari” or to move to the large cities where they would go unnoticed as Grigoris Dimitri Hagias “Balas”, Georgos Yianni Katsambis “Lira” and Vasilis Yianni Malavazos “Bey” did when they left Karitsa to live in Athens.


Mitsos Roumanos -1945


Soon after the German army pulled out, the British army arrived under General Ronald Scobie, to be greeted by an enthusiastic welcome. They set up their HQ in the former German quarters in the Hotel Grande Bretagne. On 18th October, George Papandreou and the government in exile were brought in on a British warship. This was a government of national unity, in which the ΚΚΕ, ΕΑΜ and ELAS were represented. The ΚΚΕ placed the fighters of ELAS under British military authority. General Scobie who had previously been in command at the siege of Tobruk stayed in Athens until the end of WW2.*Around this time in Karitsa, Mitsos Malavazos “Roumanos” kept continually talking about General Scobie and as usual the locals gave him the tag of “Scobie”(12).


Death of Angeliki Constantinou Malavazos -1945


Angeliki b 1891 was the youngest child of Diamantis Panagiotis Hagias and his wife Margarita Georgiou Katsambis and she became the second wife to Constantinos Anastasi Malavazos “Krekos”, bearing him 8 children as well as caring for another 4 children from Constantinos first marriage.* At the end of her life Angeliki became stricken with breast cancer which she attempted to fight with a combination of traditional medicine that included drinking herbal extracts and placing a compress of animal flesh on the breast to draw out the cancer(11). All of his was to no avail and in 1945 just after the Germans had left Greece Angeliki passed away in great agony, her screams of pain could be heard throughout the village because in those days palliative care was unheard of.  



Georgos Stavrianos and Hariklia Antonis marry - 1945


Georgos Theodorou Stavrianos and Hariklia Yianni Antonis were married around 1945 before the commencement of the Second Antartiko. Because the Hites had been waiting for the wedding so that they could capture Georgos, the couple were married in the house of Georgos’ father and guerilla leader, Theodoros Stavrianos, and their best man was Yiannis Georgiou Tsolomitis “Tomaras” of Karitsa.


Georgos Stavrianos drafted as a Hiti- 1946



During the summer of 1946, Hites from the militia of Giannakaris had surrounded Vrondama where guerrillas and leftists had been gathering. The guerrillas eventually surrendered and were then taken to Skala, but on the way the Hites killed some fifteen captives. Two of these captives who made it to Skala were Georgos Stavrianos of Karitsa and his friend Anastasis Profiris “Koulos” of Mari. Here they joined the Giannakaris militia and wore their uniform; presumably they were made an offer they couldn’t refuse.


Being Drafted – 1946



Diamantis was to be drafted to serve eight months in the Greek Army during the Greek Civil War instead of the usual two years because he was the eldest sibling of the family. However because the civil war was very fierce in Laconia and the government didn’t have a great presence in the area at the time Diamantis wasn’t drafted. At the age of twenty seven in 1952 Diamantis was advised that he was to be drafted for eight months ,however Diamantis was about to migrate to Australia. The government offered that Diamantis make a monetary payment in lieu of service in the Army. Diamantis was due to make his first payment on the 14 August 1953 and another two at three month intervals. Diamantis left Karitsa on the 27 August 1953 for his voyage to Australia. After arriving in Australia the Greek Government wrote Diamantis a letter requesting payment but Diamantis ignored the letter. When Diamantis returned to Greece for the first time in 1973 nothing further was said by the government about the payment of money. Others that were in a similar situation to Diamantis being the eldest in their family were; Yiannis Dimitriou Katsambis “Markeos” who paid and Diamantis Athanasiou Antonis “Psihogios” who served his eight months. If Diamantis was drafted when he should have been, he would have willingly served.





Antonis Constantinou Malavazos “Skaltsoros”, a Karitsioti who was secretive about his left wing sympathies during the First Antartiko was murdered by fellow Karitsiotes on 28 April 1946. Skaltsoros who had idiosyncrasies like wrapping his hair around hot nails to get curls was attacked, beaten and killed by Karitsiotes  who had family members killed by guerrillas in the First Antartiko.  It is believed that five were involved in the beating and the “coup de grâce was delivered with a small boulder dropped from a height on to the chest of Skaltsoros.  The boulder was actually dropped by someone formerly of ELAS during the German occupation who told Skaltsoros sister in law Yiannoula, “Parte ton kai fate ton tora!” (you can take him and eat him (8)).   Skaltsoros was beaten initially above Karitsa at a place known as “Mantritsa” and then he was taken to”Sto Gouvi”, outside the shop of Yiannis Malavazos”Roupakias” and killed there. The incident was actually witnessed by Diamantis who was in Karitsa at the time, as well as by Thanasis Antonis who was on leave from the Greek Army when they heard the fracas with Skaltsoros. They quickly went to see what was happening, thinking that Thanasi’s brother in law Georgos Stavrianos had been attacked again when they saw it was Skaltsoros being attacked, but they didn’t intervene. Even many years later Diamantis deeply regretted his non intervention in Skaltsoros death.


Theodoros Stavrianos “Kapetan Gri” a guerrilla leader and leading member of the First Antartiko was on the run and hiding close to the village in May 1946 when he was found by Karitsiotes and handed to the police. The police were intending to take him to Geraki via Skala when on the way the police vehicle was stopped by a villager from Grammousa. The villager, whose family originated in Karitsa,  then preceded to machine gun Theodoros outside the police jeep. The villager believed that Theodoros, who had once worked in the family vineyard, had killed his father. Folklore has it that Theodoros supposedly said of the villager’s father, “Mou efage to theo, tora tou efaga ton theo”.


Theodoros Anastasi Tountas “Karamelos”, who was a communist but not a guerrilla was apprehended by a Hites militia of 30 men from Mani, led by Bathrelos in the autumn of 1946. Theodoros was to be taken by the Hites from Karitsa to Geraki, but was killed on the way at Zavrena. .* Theodoros Tountas was taken to the agora of Karitsa where he was tied up and beaten. On the road to Geraki at a place known as “Paliokalivo”, Theodoros was beaten to death (1).


*Eleni Tsolomitis remembers during the civil war that Thanasis Malavazos “Roumeliotis” who was an ELAS sympathizer being beaten in Karitsa with a piece of thick wire by his political opponents (1).


At a time when Diamantis Hagias was absent from the village in the summer of 1946, Georgos Theodorou Stavrianos was severely beaten near the house of Lambros Tountas “Mikrouchis” by two of the fellow Karitsiotes who in Spring earlier that year had tortured to death Antonis Constantinou Malavazos “Skaltsoros”.  His life was saved through the intervention of Chrysoula Theodorakakos (Malavazos) “Gria Kourlena”, who was a 1st cousin with Georgos mother Nikoleta. Georgos Stavrianos was being beaten severely by Karitsiotes outside the shop of Mitsos Grammatikakis , when Yiannis Tsolomitis “Tomaras” rode past on his donkey. Georgos noticed Yiannis and begged him to intervene “Koumbare, koumbare, sose me! Gk” but there was no way Yianni could stop the beating. After the beating, Georgos was close to death and was carried back to his house in a sheet (hirami Gk) (1).



The Death of Panagiotis Hagias -1946



In 1946 police had arrived in Karitsa from Geraki with a volunteer auxiliary police “maidhes”. The maidhes had found in the wall of Spiros Malavazos “Roumeliotis” house a cache of hand grenades (the grenades were made in Italy and were called “tambakeres”). A member of the maidhes took a hand grenade, pulled the pin and threw it into an abandoned house where it failed to detonate. The grenade was subsequently thrown into a well which in winter was full of water. 


The entire village knew that the grenade was in the well and one day, when the level of the water was low, Costas Katsambis “Nomarchis” lowered Panagiotis with a rope into the well to retrieve the grenade. At the same time Diamantis was passing the well and confiscated the grenade. However, he now faced the problem of how to dispose of it. He had intended to shoot the grenade with his German “Mausser” rifle but shooting in the village had been banned. While hiding behind a wall, Diamantis then threw the grenade against rocks hoping to break it up.  


The grenade duly fell apart and he threw the pieces into a field “horafi” called the “Mazarakeika”. The horafi of wheat had just been harvested leaving a knee high carpet of stalks. Panagiotis and his friends had been aware of where the grenade pieces had been thrown and duly went to retrieve them. Panagiotis put the pieces of the grenade in his pocket and went home. Here he met up with Diamantis who gave him a punnet of figs and instructed him to load on to a donkey which was going to take his sister Eleni and father Stylianos to the village of Houni for the wedding of Panagiotis auntie, Vangelio Georgostathis.


Instead of preparing the donkey as he was told, Panagiotis stopped at a blackberry bush at the family house where there was a wooden stump on which he placed the grenade fragments. He proceeded to hit the grenade fragments with a rock hoping to break it into even smaller pieces to share amongst his friends. Tragically the grenade fragment exploded with devastating and deadly effect. Diamantis heard the explosion and when he found Panagiotis both his hands had been blown off, his clothing had been burnt off except for his back and his stomach blown open exposing his intestines. Diamantis picked up Panagiotis where he died in his arms.


Diamantis remembers Panagiotis as an intelligent, feisty child with a sharp tongue and a penchant for swearing. 


The family had some fig trees below Karitsa at the “Pisambelia” which they would lease out to others where the lessor was known as a “dragatis”. At the Pisambelia in the same year Panagiotis died Diamantis heard him crying from the “Katsambeiko Aloni”. When Diamantis found him he asked him why he was crying but Panagioti denied that he was. Some days later Diamantis heard him crying again.


Diamantis and Panagiotis had a special bond and when asked to do something by his older brother Panagiotis would always obey him without question, except for this one fatal occasion.


The Brantitsas militia and Nikolas Georgantonis “Kladeftiras”


*Elements of the Mitsos Brantitsas militia including Nikolas Georgantonis “Kladeftiras” had come to Karitsa in the early part of 1946 during the winter after they heard that the guerillas had left oxen in Karitsa which they were later intending to slaughter, on returning to Karitsa.

 Eleni Tsolomitis recalled she was in “Theia Maroulitsa’s” (wife of Panagioti Yianni Katsambis) garden (avli Gk), when oxen which had been brought into Karitsa by the guerillas were taken to the “alonaki” (threshing yard) to be slaughtered. Nikoleta Stavrianou, the wife of the guerilla leader Theodoros Stavrianos, came to her balcony and below her in the lower neighborhood (stin kato gitonia Gk) she could see Pantelou (or Malamou) in the threshing yard with the butchered carcasses. Pantelou was Yiannoula, the daughter of Yiannis Korbakis of Kosmas, who had died at an early age as a soldier at Nauphlion, and the wife of Pantelis Constantinos Malavazos “Malamas” who was a member of ELAS and the DSE.

Nikoleta said to Pantelou “What kind of meat is it that they have brought me, look at those bones!” (Ti kreas einai pou mou ferane, kita ta kokala! Gk)

 Later that day on hearing that the Brantitsas militia was coming to Karitsa, Nikoleta who was cooking the meat at the time immediately gathered the meat and disposed of it behind her house under some tree branches (klaria Gk). Nikoleta’s daughter in law Hariklia Georgiou Stavrianos,  nee Antonis, who was carrying her first child with her, a boy named Theodoros who was tragically to die soon after, rushed next door to the house of Stylianos Hagias to seek shelter from the coming militia. Stylianou (Katerina Dimitri Georgostathis-the wife of Stylianos Hagias) opened the door and rushed Hariklia and her baby into the basement (katoi Gk) where animals were housed during the winter. Rushing into the basement Hariklia beckoned Stylianou.

 Hariklia   “Auntie Stylianou, close the basement door!”(Theia Stylianou, klise tin porta! Gk)

 After a short time Hariklia rushed from Stylianou’s house with her baby in her arms to the house of Constantinos Lambros “Vourvouriotis” which at that time was used as a shop. Constantinos hid Hariklia and her baby in a basement room with an archway (kamara Gk) that was used to store wine and grain.

Nikoleta had rushed towards the other side of the village i.e. “Pera gitoneia Gk” where she went to the house of Stamata Tsebelis “Mavrayannena” who lived there with her son Panagiotis “Yiatros” and his wife Eugenia, begging to be saved.

 Nikoleta “Hide me, save me!”(Krifte me,sose me!Gk)

She was taken inside the house but it had no obvious hiding places. A bed was prepared for Nikoleta in the corner (gonia Gk) of the house on which she lay down, covered with blankets and a head scarf. The Hites who were searching the village for Nikoleta, came to Stamata’s house and asked her.

Hites “Who is the old woman? ” (Etouti gria ,ti eine edo? Gk)

Eugenia “She is my mother, she is very ill. The wretched woman can’t even walk” (Einai oi mana mou, eine poli arosti .Den bori oi kakomira, den bori na perpatisi Gk)

Meanwhile at the house of Stylianos Hagias, the Hites could be heard breaking things and banging doors. Kladeftiras and another Hite had come next door at the Stavrianos house and had found it empty .Angry they came to the door of Stylianou’s house.

 Hites “Where is the goat and lamb? (Of Nikoleta Stavrianos)” (To gidi (goat), kai to martini (lamb), pou eine!Gk)

 In the basement Stylianou’s 10 year old daughter Dimoutroula was feeding Nikoleta’s lamb and goat with chafe (sano Gk) to keep them quiet and by now Kaladeftiras was very angry.

Kladeftiras “Tell me where they are, if we don’t find them we will kill you!”(Peste mou re, pou einai, ean den ta vroume, tha sas skotosoume! Gk)

Stylianou “We don’t know, we don’t know, we didn’t see!”(Den xeroume, den xeroume, den eidame!Gk)

Stylianou to Kladeftiras “Where are you from my son?” (Apo pou eise, paidaki mou? Gk)

Kladeftiras “Why do you want to know? I’m from Agios Dimitris!”(Giati thelis na mathis? Eime apo ton Agio Dimitri! Gk)

Stylianou “Ah! my husband had a wife from Agios Dimitris” (Ah! apo ton Agio Dimitri eihe pari gineka o andras mou Gk)

Kladeftiras “Then why did you marry him?”(Mori, gamo to Christo sou! Ti ton eitheles pou ton epernes?Gk)

The animals were kept quiet by Dimitroula and after a while the Hites left the house of Stylianos Hagias and the village.  Kladeftiras was killed when guerillas attacked and routed the Brantitsas militia in Geraki on the 13 Nov 1947. (1)


Battle of Karitsa - New Years Day - 1 January 1947


Guerrillas numbering about 150 assembled on the outskirts of Karitsa on the evening of Tuesday the 31st Dec 1946, waiting for the dawning of the next day to enter the village.


On New Years Eve of 1947 many Karitsiotes were playing cards as was the custom to welcome the New Year. One of these card games was taking place in the house now (2007) owned by Antonis Katsambis “Davelis” but originally belonging to Constantinos Tsebelis “Kafetzis” and also in which Diamantis Hagias was born. In 1947 the house, which by then had been turned into a shop, was owned by Thanasis Antonis “Psihogios” who had inherited it through his wife Veneta, the granddaughter of Kafetzis. A group of about 15-20 men were at the house that night including Leonidas Malavazos “Mourhoutas”, Diamantis Hagias and Diamantis “Psihogios” although Psihogios didn’t play cards, he instead paced in and out of the house every couple of minutes with his rifle over his shoulder. During the card game the players were drinking wine and wise cracking to pass the time away. One of the people at the card game was Georgos Antonis “Gyftos” which showed that the politics of the card players was diverse. The card game broke up near dawn and the men returned to their homes not knowing that the village had been infiltrated and surrounded by guerrillas. Diamantis Hagias left with Georgos Antonis each intending to get a couple of hours’ sleep and then go to church for the morning service to celebrate the New Year.


As dawn was breaking, Yiannis Christou Katsambis “Pofolos” who lived on the outskirts of Karitsa took his shotgun to go hare hunting. As he was moving out of Karitsa, he came across a group of guerrillas so becoming the first Karitsioti to encounter the guerrillas that day. The guerrillas had intended to allow the Karitsiotes to go to the morning New Years church service and then arrest those who they considered enemies; however, this plan was abandoned when the guerrillas were found out early that morning. When the guerrillas came out of hiding at dawn of New Years Day they surrounded Karitsa with a number of groups of 2 and 3 men “philakia” (outlooks) strategically placed to block possible escape by the villagers.

Other groups of guerrillas went to houses throughout the village asking all males to present themselves at Karitsa’s main church, Evangelistra by about 10am.


*The guerillas had fired shells or mortars when they had surrounded Karitsa on New Year’s Day 1947 as evidenced by the large craters (lakei Gk) around the village (1).


*Just after dawn when the guerrillas came out of hiding, Diamantis Hagias’  younger brother Dimitris was watering the family goats at Aetofolia (Asfakia). Dimitris metal watering bucket which was slung over his shoulder gleaned in the sun making it look like he was carrying a rifle. The guerrillas started to fire in his direction and only stopped when Dimitris mother Katerina shouted to the guerrillas telling them he was not carrying a rifle(1).


Diamantis Hagias had just returned from the New Year’s Eve  card game and was taking off his shoes to go to bed when he heard the rattle of machine guns outside his home. He grabbed a couple of hand grenades which he possessed  as well as papers and books on his job as an “agrofilaka” (land warden) and went outside to hide them. Diamantis came back inside the family home and put on his shoes with the intention of going next door to Nikoleta Stavrianos where he would have been safe from the guerrillas. At about 6am on New Years day of 1947, some of the guerrillas came to the home of Stylianos Hagias which was still mourning the death of his son Panagiotis to arrest his eldest son Diamantis. As soon as he opened the door to go to next door to Nikoleta Stavrianos the guerrillas appeared with their automatic rifles looking for him.

Guerillas “Where is the field warden?” (O agorafilakas, pou einai! Gk)


Diamantis appeared at the door

Guerillas “The rifle! (To doufeki Gk)

Diamantis “I don’t have a rifle” (Den echo Gk)


The guerrillas searched the house, breaking and knocking over household items. Diamantis did carry a borrowed rifle for protection when he was on duty as an agorafilaka. The guerrilla persisted in questioning Diamantis about his possession of a rifle and it went.


Diamantis “I don’t have a rifle” (Den echo Gk)


Guerillas “You do have a rifle” (Echis! Gk) 


The guerrillas then continued their search underneath the house where the family’s animals were kept. Diamantis had recognized one of the guerrillas here as a Vlahioti with a disfigured hand by the name of Liakakos. Now angry, one of the guerrillas turns to Diamantis and his family inside the house and says, “Theodoros Tountas kai Theodoros Stavrianos, tha to plirosete me ema” to which he replied, “Ama skotosa ton Theodoro Stavriano giati eine to paidi tou (Panagiotis) edo?” referring to Panagiotis Stavrianos. The guerrillas then asked Diamantis young neighbour, Panagiotis Stavrianos, “Esi pios eise?” to which Panagiotis replied, “Eime o Panagiotis, gios tou Theodorou Stavrianou”. Panagiotis rushed to find his widowed mother Nikoleta and said to her, “Pirane ton Diamanti”. Meanwhile the guerrillas proceeded to lead Diamantis away towards the hills .Diamantis immediate thought was how he was going to grab a rifle from the guerrillas and save himself but Nikoleta came to her balcony door and told them “Na afisete to paidi eleftero kai na figete!” Nikoleta was asked to identify herself and she said, “Eime oi gineka tou Theodorou Stavrianou!” Diamantis was released in his front yard but told to go with his brother Dimitris to Karitsa’s main church Evangelismos tis Theotokou “Evangelistra”. So Diamantis Hagias along with his brother Dimitris and their neighbour as well as 2nd cousin Apostolis Christou Hagias then made their way to Evangelistra to find out what the guerrillas had in store for them. Diamantis father Stylianos and brother Georgos missed the events of New Year’s Day because they were at the family mandri where they were grazing and watering their cows, ploughing their fields and tending to their olive trees.


Diamantis Antonis “Psihogios” was on a list of people drawn up by the guerrillas that were to be arrested in Karitsa. While walking in the agora, Psihogios who was with Leonidas Malavazos “Mourhoutas” realized that, the village had been surrounded by guerrillas so he made his way to escape. He quickly went to his house to grab his rifle and when a group of guerrillas came to his house he jumped out and fled with his rifle. It is uncertain from where he jumped as his house had high walls with an internal “kamara” (archway), one door and a window which had iron bars. This house was his as part of a dowry from his first marriage to Eleni Georgopoulos “Fasoulou”, the granddaughter of Christos Tsebelis “Kaletourkos” and the sister of the guerrilla leader who was surrounding Karitsa Karitsa and who had mysteriously disappeared around 1941. Diamantis together with cousins Georgos Leonida Tountas “Prezakias” and Sophoclis Dimitri Tountas “Kalivas” had made an escape plan in the event of the guerrillas entering Karitsa, which was to move quickly into the ravine below Karitsa via a tree-lined gully and head south to Geraki. Diamantis who was an expert marksman with a rifle (it was said by villagers he could shoot a cigarette from your mouth) followed this plan and before his descent into the ravine below the store/shop of Apostolis Christou Hagias he shot 2 guerrillas (one died there and the other died later from his wounds) who were acting as lookout’s (skopi) on the other side of the ravine at a place called Melisomandri where once Constantinos Kritikos “Balahas” kept his bees. After walking about 20mins in the ravine headed towards Geraki, Diamantis “Psihogios” came across a clearing in the trees at a place called Vamvakia, which was also a creek crossing. Diamantis had been followed by his hunting dog which unfortunately for him had a bell around its neck whose noise alerted guerrilla’s who were guarding this part of the ravine. So as he crossed the creek at the opening, a guerrilla killed him with a rifle shot to the back of the head. It has been conjectured that if Diamantis “Psihogios” had headed towards and past the “philiako” (outlook) which he had taken out when fleeing Karitsa instead of heading for the ravine he probably would have escaped. Behind the philakio was an open expanse through which he would have escaped. Later on that New Year’s Day of 1947 Diamantis’ “Psihogios” younger brother Yiannis together with Diamantis Hagias found his body. The guerrillas had stripped him of his clothes and had also taken his rifle. After Diamantis body was retrieved from the ravine; it was indeed carried back to the village on a sheet (hirami-Gk) (1).



*The Tountas brothers Georgos “Prezakias” and Lambros with 2nd cousin Sophocles Tountas were hiding in Karitsa when their houses were burnt to the ground by the guerrillas and which fires assisted their escape. Lambros Tountas avoided capture by the guerrillas when he hid under the family wood oven which was situated below his house in Karitsa. Under the oven was a small space behind a “Kamara” (archway) in which pigs and sometimes dogs took shelter. Lambros moved to Athens after the Civil War and was killed there in a MVA. Sophoclis Tountas to avoid capture climbed into the ceiling cavity of his house and covered himself with a “skafidi” which was a large wooden tub that women used to make flour dough. The guerrillas went to the house of Sophocles searching it from top to bottom to find him. When the guerrillas reached the ceiling cavity instead of lifting the skafidi they instead fired some bullets into it which fortunately missed Sophocles. The house of Sophoclis was set ablaze from the basement and the ceiling in which he was hiding collapsed sending him to the “katoi” (basement).After his fall he realized there were no guerrillas guarding his doorway so he made a dash for the animal pen of the house and to his surprise he found his cousin Lambros hiding there. Meanwhile Sophoclis mother had been rounded up in Evangelistra with many other Karitsiotes where she was lamenting, ”Po po mou pirane to paidi mou” (my goodness they have taken my boy).When the guerrillas came to Georgos Tountas “Prezakias” house he jumped out of the window into a field of artichokes where the guerrillas fired on him with their rifles. Prezakias then jumped two walls going into a small ravine or gully “hadaki” which joined with another two hadakia to form a large ravine below Karitsa. From this ravine Prezakias instead of heading south as had been planned with other Hites, headed north towards “Diaselo” (the saddle) and the mountain peak “Tsouka” from where the guerrillas came into Karitsa. Prezakias made his way up north through the ravine towards Tsouka and fortunately for him the guerrillas didn’t have lookouts in this part of the ravine, thinking no one would make an escape in this direction because it was devoid of trees which would have afforded cover to the escapees. So under intense machine gun fire from below in Karitsa, Georgos Tountas made his escape but tragically for him he died in a murder suicide the following year and Sophocles who along with his cousin Lambros Tountas hid in the animal pen until the guerrillas departed slowly lost his eyesight after being hit by shrapnel fighting the guerrillas at Grammo in 1949(8).


Leonidas Malavazos “Mourhoutas” had been walking below the house of Mitsos Malavazos “Roumanos” on the morning the guerrillas came to Karitsa at a place known as “Tou Georgantoni ti Mantra” when he was shot from a long distance completely by accident by a stray bullet from a guerrillas gun . The stray bullet hit him in the palm of his left hand, later rendering his 3rd and 4th fingers useless and leaving a gaping exit wound on the back of his hand. A wounded “Loui” as he was also known passed 2 guerrilla checkpoints on his way out of Karitsa to escape the guerrillas net. The first checkpoint was at “Smyrtia” which then had a “vrysi” (ground water supply) surrounded by numerous small “kypous” (vegetable and fruit gardens).When Leonidas walked past this check point the guerrilla lookouts were at the time busy looking for cauliflowers and cabbages to ease their hunger. Leonidas was armed with a rifle even though he was injured but did not fire on the guards so as not to attract the attention of other guerrillas to his escape. The second checkpoint was at “Chardaki” an open area below Smyrtia, which had in the middle an olive tree with a platform in its branches, which “dhragates” would use to guard their fig trees. The olive tree was an excellent lookout for the guerrillas, but when Leonidas came past, the guerrillas were on the ground huddling together from the cold and surprised at his sudden appearance. Moving quickly past Chardaki, Leonidas headed up a nearby hill that had no tree covering. The guerrillas had now regained their composure and their rifles were now raining bullets on Leonidas but luckily for him none of these bullets had his name on them. After escaping from Karitsa, Leonidas was found staggering by Georgos Christou Katsambis “Pofolos” who was at the time grazing his goats. Georgos bandaged Leonidas hand as best he could with some “pania” (rags). From here, Leonidas headed for the “mandri” (enclosure) of Stylianos Hagias at “Pyrgakia” which Stylianos used as a “stanotopi” (goat pen) to shelter his goats during the harsh winter. By the time Leonidas reached Pyrgakia he was very weak from blood loss and collapsed but fortunately for him Stylianos Hagias son Georgos had climbed on to a large rock to find his oxen when he noticed Leonidas below the branches of a “Skindos” tree. Georgos talked to Leonidas but he didn’t have the strength to reply. Georgos now ran back to get his father who was in his stanotopi and the two of them returned to the ailing Leonidas. Stylianos who was a pipe tobacco smoker pressed with a bandage his pouch of tobacco into the gaping wound on the back of Leonidas hand to staunch the bleeding. After Leonidas hand had been bandaged Georgos went and found Leonidas brother Panagiotis who was nearby grazing his goats. Panagiotis and Georgos rushed back to Leonidas with Panagiotis mule which was going to be used to carry Leonidas. Panagiotis took Leonidas to Geraki by mule and from Geraki, Leonidas was taken to Sparti where he had better medical care and also where Leonidas stayed for the duration of the civil war.



On New Year’s morning Papa Anastasis had been holding a service to celebrate the name day of Agios Vasilis when Panagiotis Georgopoulos of Vlachiotis, the guerrillas’ leader who had been educated in Karitsa and who was also a former brother in law of Diamantis “Psihogios” entered the church clashing heatedly with Papa Anastasis who knew him but showed no fear, saying to the guerrillas “eisaste zoa”, then closing the service. Georgopoulos probably wanted to catch as many males as he could in the church to help provision the guerrillas for their departure. By about 9-10am the guerrillas had assembled most of Karitsa’s males in the church, and here they arrested Spiros Panagioti Kritikos, his nephew Georgos Thanasi Kritikos “Soufra” (whose brother Panagiotis had been killed in the first “Antartiko” some 3 years earlier) and Theophanis Panagioti Tountas. When Diamantis Hagias and his brother Dimitris entered the church, the 3 to be executed were already there and hand-bound. The guerrillas had used two or three intertwined long strands of “keri” (church candles were cut from these rolls of “keri”) to handcuff their prisoners who were later executed. Inside the church all of the Karitsiotes were paired with guerrillas for the purpose of loading pack animals with provisions except for Diamantis who was left by himself.


As Diamantis exited the Evangelistra, a guerrilla noticing that he wasn’t tasked to load the pack animals called Diamantis over and asked him to identify from a sheet of paper, a list of houses the guerrillas wanted to torch. Without Diamantis help the guerrillas had already burnt the homes of Diamantis Antonis “Psihogios”, Leonidas Georgou Malavazos “Mourhoutas” and Thanasis Panagioti Kritikos. Diamantis identified the houses of the following persons which were burnt by the guerrillas: Michalis Panagioti Tountas, Nikolas Antonis “Kolobardonis”, Sophoclis Dimitri Tountas (son of Dimitris “Kalivas”), a house that had been partitioned and owned by 1st cousins Leonidas Georgou Tountas and Dimitri Anastasi Tountas “Karamelos”. The last house to be burnt was built and owned by Nikolas Christou Tountas “Skolori” and was chosen by Diamantis because it was uninhabited, sparing Nikolas Tountas actual residence which since the death of his brother Leonidas in the first Antartiko, was the home of his father Christos Tountas. After the guerilla’s set fire to the house of Michalis Tountas, Dimitris Stylianou Hagias tried in vain to put out the flames. Dimitris recalls seeing stored honey in Michalis house burning and that the houses of Michalis and Nikolas Panagioti Antonis”Kolobardonis” were burnt completely to the ground (1) When Diamantis had finished identifying the houses he was told to help a young guerrilla load the horse of Panagiotis Tountas “Tsouhlas” and the mule of Papa Anastasis. At this stage with the 2 pack animals on the outskirts of Karitsa and no one else in sight, Diamantis thought of hitting the guerrilla with a rock and getting away, but luckily for him he noticed that a guerrilla look out with a machine gun was observing them. Eighty  pack animals (horses, donkeys and mules) were commandeered by the guerrilla’s and were loaded by Karitsiotes and guerrillas throughout the village with olive oil, grains, flour, bread, clothes etc. The animals were assembled on the outskirts of the village at “Koprisia” or “tou Nikola Antoni to pournari” and from there at about 2pm on New Years Day 1947 the guerrillas headed for the nearby hills. Once the guerrillas had left, the Karitsiotes quickly returned to the village to extinguish the fires in their homes. Dimitris “Mitsos” Constantinou Rozaklis of Karitsa found the bodies of the three Karitsiotes at a place known as Kolavra (near Karitsa) a few hours after they were executed on New Years day. The next day about 30 men came from Geraki to see what had happened, a handful of these were police and the rest were civilians all of whom left in a few hours. At about 2pm on 1 January 1947 Diamantis Hagias and Constantinos Malavazos “Katsareas” went and saw the men’s bodies which were hand bound and had been tortured (their hands had been broken). Execution had been with a bullet to the front or the back of the head.


Pavlakos in Karitsa - 8 January 1947


A week after the guerrillas came to Karitsa around the 8 January 1947, Ioannis Pavlakos who was also known as Kir Yianni came to Karitsa with his militia of 30 men and found it almost deserted of people with most having scattered to their horafia and kalivia after the departure of the guerrillas on New Year’s Day. At the time, Diamantis was at his family’s plot of land on the plain below Karitsa (kalivi Gk) picking olives having just returned from Agios Dimitris. Here the family learnt that a militia had gone to Karitsa. Diamantis thought to himself as agrofilakas he had to present himself in the village “like the village functionary that I was, I was the field warden!” (San organo tou horiou pou eimouna, eimouna agrofilakas! Gk). Diamantis together with his stepmother Katerina and her brother Georgos Dimitriou Georgostahis “Salteris” made their way back to Karitsa from the kalivi. Once they had reached Karitsa, Diamantis told the others that he was going to Karitsa’s agora “pigeno oxo Gk”. Georgos who was intending on leaving the next day for his home village of Houni gave Diamantis money to bring him back a packet of cigarettes. Diamantis went to the shop of Mitsos Grammatikakis for the cigarettes and from there he saw a group of Hites acting as a lookout (filakio Gk) on the elevated courtyard (proavlio Gk) of Evangelistra, Karitsa’s largest church. The Hites had set up about four lookouts around Karitsa, as Diamantis said later “the Hites were afraid of being slaughtered by the guerillas” (phovontoustan na pane oi katsapliades na tous kladepsoun Gk).As dusk was approaching a curious Diamantis walked past the elevated Hites lookout on the courtyard of Evangelistra deciding to go up and meet them “piga kai eipa giasas Gk” .The Hites asked him who he was.


Diamantis replied, “I’m the field warden of the village” (eimai o agrofilakas tou horiou Gk)


One of the Hites “field warden of the guerillas” (agrofilakas ton antarton Gk)


Diamantis “excuse me I am not the agricultural warden of the guerillas, I am the agricultural warden of the state (ohi parakalon den eimai agrofilakas ton antarton, eimai agrofilakas apo to kratos Gk)


Hites “where were you when the guerillas came? (To Karitsa) “(pou eisouna pou ilthan oi antartes ? Gk)


Diamantis “I was here!” (edo!  Gk)


Hites “so what happened?  “(kai ti egine? Gk)


Diamantis “they captured me “(me piasane Gk)


Hites “what happened after that? “  (kai ti egine?  Gk)


Diamantis “I got away “(tous efiga Gk)


Diamantis sensed he should not have lied to the Hites telling them he had been captured by and then escaped from the guerillas. Diamantis mouth and bravado “ekana to andraki Gk“ made the Hites suspicious .How could he tell the Hites that his life had been saved on New Years day by his cousin Nikoleta , the widow of  the guerilla Theodoros Stavrianos “Kapetan Gri ). One of the Hites of the lookout on the courtyard of Evangelistra didn’t believe Diamantis had escaped from the guerillas and at that moment gave him a slap “ekini tin ora mou patai ena hastouki Gk “.After slapping Diamantis, the Hite attempted to kick Diamantis but as he lifted his leg Diamantis grabbed it and also grabbed him by the throat “Anigi na mou feri klotsia kai me to anigma tis klotsias, tou piano to podi kai ton piano sto lemo Gk”. Diamantis who was holding the Hite by the throat and by the leg now motioned to through him of the church courtyard  to the ground 3 metres below “Me to ena heri sto podi, me to alo sto lemo gia na ton petakso sto vraho kato Gk”. The other five or so Hites of the filiako at Evangelistra then moved in and broke up the scuffle. The Hite who had slapped Diamantis now stared at him and Diamantis retorted to him “you bastard, do you think you are hitting your fathers donkey’s! “(vre bastarde, ta gaidouria  tou patera sou htipas! Gk) .After a moments thought the Hite ordered the other members of the lookout to tie up Diamantis. Diamantis hands where tied with a chain in front of him and he was taken into the church. It was around this time that Diamantis found out that the Hite who had slapped him was the infamous Pavlakos. Pavlakos had a dark complexion, brown hair with a solid build and his height was about five feet five inches.


In the church Pavlakos was given a plate of cold meat and potato’s which he placed on a wood fire that was normally used to keep the parishioners warm on cold winter days. As the meat on his plate was warming, Pavlakos motioned to the other Hites in the church to take the chains of Diamantis hands. Pavlakos then told Diamantis to sit down with him and eat to which Diamantis reply was “get lost, I don’t want anything!” (Ah pniksou!,ego then thelo tipota Gk).Diamantis was still angry about the slap from Pavlakos “I was fuming, I couldn’t stand him” (tou eiha gourouni , den ton ehoneva Gk slang ).


Diamantis to Pavlakos - “get lost, you hit me and now you invite me to eat” (ah kithe re, htipas ke tora moupes na fago Gk)


Pavlakos was insulted and very angry with Diamantis now ordered his men in the church to retighten the chain around Diamantis hands.


Pavlakos “secure his hands as tight as you can!” (dhes tou ta heria oso borite, sfigta!Gk).


While Diamantis was being held in Evangelistra, Pavlakos had it confirmed to him by other villagers that Diamantis was the agrofilakas. The plate that Pavlakos was warming had cracked on the fire, so he transferred the meat and potato’s to another plate .Pavlakos took the plate to the table at the entrance of the church (pezahta Gk) and sat down to eat. Night fell and with a full stomach Pavlakos fell asleep in Evangelistra. During the night, Diamantis managed to loosen the chain around his hands “elithike o alisos Gk”, throwing it to the two Hites who were on guard duty for the night. Diamantis told the guards to come and chain him again “tous eipa, elithika elate na me dhesete Gk”. The guards looked at each other, looked at the chain and promptly threw it away. Pavlakos awoke in the morning and proceeded go and inspect the other lookouts throughout Karitsa. When Pavlakos returned to Evangelistra, Diamantis asked him what was going on as he wanted to go home “vre ti tha gini ?, eho kai spiti, eho kai anthropous  Gk “ .


Pavlakos   “where’s your house “(poun to spiti sou Gk)


Diamantis   “in the other neighbourhood” (stin ali geitonia Gk)


Pavlakos    leave but be back by 10 o’clock, I’ve given the order for the village to assemble at Evangelistra” (pigene, ala ela pali stis deka, eho dosi diatagi na einai olo to horio edo stin eklisia Gk).


Diamantis returned home after spending a bitterly cold night in Evangelistra but after a short time of rest he left again to be back at Evangelistra by ten in the morning. Walking up the road towards Evangelistra, Diamantis reached the shop of Mitsos Katsambis from where he saw many villagers on the church’s courtyard. People on the courtyard were calling out “Diamantis!, come quickly” (Diamanti!,ela gligora Gk).Diamantis was late and Pavlakos who had been expecting him called out, “Come here” (ela edo Gk). Diamantis made his way up the steps to the courtyard and here he saw Pavlakos kicking and hitting Panagiotis Kritikos with a piece of wood that was used to stoke fires (todaglo or dhavli Gk).Before hitting Panagiotis, Pavlakos had made him lift his trousers above his knees and then ordered him to kneel on the sharp marble gravel of the courtyard. Panagiotis who wasn’t a guerilla sympathizer had feared Pavlakos and early that morning he had attempted to leave Karitsa but was arrested by one of the Hites lookouts. He was beaten severely “ehortase stiliari Gk” but was lucky to escape with his life. Pavlakos was agitated and after walking in and out of Evangelistra he came up to Diamantis.


Pavlakos    I want you to take another two men, whoever you want and bring back to me a goat on the days, Monday, Wednesday and Friday” (Thelo na paris duo anthropous, opion thelis kai thelo Deftera ,Tetarti kai Paraskevi apo ena vetouli(a goat over 18 months) Gk)


Diamantis chose Constantinos “Costas” Thanasi Malavazos “Katsareas” to help him find the goats for Pavlakos.


 Pavlakos asked Diamantis “who else do you want to take with you?” (pion alon theleis? Gk)


Diamantis   I don’t want anybody else” (den thelo alon Gk)


Pavlakos “Ok, I just want the goat” (entaxi, ego to vetouli thelo Gk)


A thick fog (antara Gk) had descended on Karitsa and it took Diamantis and Costas until the next evening to find a shepherd who after it was explained to him that Pavlakos wanted the goat he handed one over. The goat was then delivered to Pavlakos.


Pavlakos now told Diamantis   “I need some help tonight” (thelo voithia appose Gk)


Diamantis    so what kind of help do you need?” (kai ti voithia thelis Gk)


Pavlakos    I want you to change the guard (at the church)” (na mas alazeis ti skopia Gk)


Each lookout in Karitsa had about seven men of whom one kept guard and the others slept or rested so Diamantis job was to wake men up and replace the guard on the hour. The lookouts at night were replaced to stop them falling asleep and to minimize health problems because of the cold. The guards of the lookout were either in a stationary or walking mode, depending on whether it was night or day. The Hites placed lookouts throughout Karitsa and 3 of these locations were the churches; Evangelistra and Agios Constantinos as well as the home of the late Diamantis Antonis “Psihogios”. Diamantis rotated the guard that night and he was told by the Hites to come again the next night. On this a Hiti leader recounted to Diamantis how they had killed seventy two people from the village of Vamvakou in Laconia. National elections had been held in Greece in 1946 after which their militia went to Vamvakou with a list of villagers from Vamvakou who had failed to vote. The villagers were rounded up and asked why they hadn’t voted. They gave excuses ranging from being scared of the guerrillas to others said they were absent from the village and various other excuses. An old man walked past.


Hitis “Did you vote old man?”  (Psifises gero? Gk)


Old man “No” (Ochi Gk)


Hitis   “And why not?” (Giati? Gk)


Old Man “I was, I am and I will always be a communist!”  (Eimoune , eime kai tha eime kommounistis!)


The old man who showed no fear was told by the Hitis to stand apart from the others. The villagers who were expecting the Hites to kill the old man were made to dig a trench after which the two Hite leaders  had a violent argument because they both wanted to kill the villagers. One prevailed and he machine gunned the seventy two villagers but let the old man go. The villagers were killed because the Hites considered them dishonest and hypocritical. Diamantis later thought that the reason his life was spared was that like the old man they had both stood up to their notorious leaders.


After delivering 3 goats to Pavlakos, Diamantis and Costas Malavazos ”Katsareas” left Karitsa for Geraki on a Friday to inform the authorities there of their unwelcome visitor. When Diamantis and Costas reached Geraki they found the policeman and complained about the presence of Pavlakos in Karitsa and asked him how to get him to leave. The policeman could not force Pavlakos to leave Karitsa, but he used information given to him from another Gerakiti to write a false letter to Pavlakos in Karitsa. The policeman had been told that 5 guerrillas were at Velota near Geraki, but in his letter to Pavlakos he lied and said that 50 guerrillas were at Kanelakia (above Karitsa). On reading this letter Pavlakos quickly packed up and went looking for the guerrillas. After staying in Geraki for about 1 day, Diamantis and Costas left Geraki on the Sunday and by Monday Pavlakos had left Karitsa as well.


Diamantis reflected on the Hites after he had escaped from them in Karitsa. “They were looking for me, those crazy Maniates!” (Psahnane gia emena, palio trelo Maniates). “They were people who were born to kill and they didn’t care who they killed” (Auti eitan anthropi pou genithikan na skotonoune, den eitan ethnikistes, den exetazane pios eitane Gk).


Massacre at Agios Elias – April 1947



In April 1947, Panageas the police chief who was exiled in Cairo during the German-Italian occupation arrived in Geraki with Antonis Repakis of Alepochori who was a pre-war policeman and the 30 man militia of Giannakaris and Pavlakos. A week later Panageas left Geraki with 118 men under his command, including Kosmas Georgou Mitris (the brother of Diamantis future best man, Nikolas Mitris) to confront guerrillas who were reported  to be near Agrianous. When Panageas reached Agrianous, he found the guerrillas had left in a hurry, leaving their cooking pots full of meat. However returning to Geraki, Panageas (who had no previous experience in fighting guerrillas) and his men were ambushed by the guerrillas and only a handful survived. Kosmas Mitris who fought in the First Antartiko, survived because he understood the guerrillas far better than Panageas did and climbed on a tree to hide when the others made camp for the night. Many of Panageas’ men probably died when the guerrillas first attacked them, but about 40 were captured and herded into a small church called Agios Elias “Agio Lia”. The guerrillas then piled stones in front of the church door and proceeded to throw several hand grenades through a small church window. Panageas disappeared, his body was never found and rumours of his motives and apparent ineptitude still remain. Diamantis met the only 2 survivors of the Agio Lia incident, when Leonidas Malavazos “Mourhoutas” (who was living alone in Sparti, recovering from a gunshot wound to the hand from guerrillas during New Year’s Day in Karitsa) took him to see them in Sparti’s hospital. These 2 had multiple wounds from grenade fragments but had survived because the bodies of the other men in a confined space acted as a shield for them. Mourhoutas earned the mocking tag of “O Stratigos” from the Sparti authorities because of his escape from the guerrillas.


The Death of Katsareas- 21 March 1947


Katsareas , was the leader of the Hites in Mani and under him were people like Giannakaris, Katsafathos and Pavlakos. Katsareas was travelling from Geraki to Skala when at a place called the Gerakitika Ambelia which had a public sterna and which was also known as Delekou and Skalitsa he was ambushed and killed. Spiros Leonida Hagias owned a nearby kalivi at a place named Tou Mache. The suspicion of the Karitsiotes was that other Hites killed him as they knew his travel plans in order to take over the leadership of the Hites.


(*)Panos Katsareas was the founder and head in Lakonia, of the paramilitary Ethnike Antikomounistike Omades Kinigon (EAOK), the National Anti-Communist Shooters Groups, euphemistically known as the Eagles of Mani. These groups, five in all throughout Lakonia, came under the command of such figures as Kyriakos Kyriakogonas, Vasilis Bogeas, Yiannis Pavlakos, Stamatis Goudis and Stavros Gerakaris. On Friday, 21 March 1947, Katsareas and his close associates had spent a few hours with his supporters in Geraki and then was heading by jeep towards Skala and Levetsova, present day Krokees, when, on the way, at about five in the afternoon, at a place variously known as Gerakitika Ambelia, Delekou or Skalitsa, the group was ambushed by guerrillas of Dimokratikos Stratos Elladas (DSE), Democratic Army of Greece, the military arm of the Communist Party. Katsareas was first shot in the hand and then as he was scrambling out to seek cover behind the jeep he was fatally wounded in the heart. Others from his group to be wounded during the ambush included Papadakos, Skalkos and Pierakis. Despite their injuries Papadakos and Skalkos managed to flee the scene and hole up in the surrounding scrub 300 metres away. They hid there until about ten that night when Skalkos under the cover of darkness began dragging his bullet riddled body towards Geraki. He was found groaning in pain in the early hours of the following day by a passing villager and taken to Geraki. Papadakos managed to drag himself as far as the nearest roadside but succumbed to fatal internal haemorrhaging.  Pierakis, who was only slightly wounded, managed to escape and safely made it to Skala to convey the news.  Katsareas’ body was taken for burial in his hometown of Gythio. (4)



Hites in Geraki – 23 March 1947


Diamantis had been in Geraki on the 23 March 1947 with a group of men on the rear balcony (liako-Gk) of Mitsos and Yiannis Papageorgiou’s kafeneio, looking below on the plain (kambo Gk) and waiting for the return of Panageas to Geraki. The Papageorgiou kafeneio also had a chair and table section that fronted Geraki’s agora.  The people at the Liako of Papageorgiou’s kafeneio saw men jumping out of vehicles that had assembled near the school and they were identified as Hites from Mani “Oi Maniates Gk”. The people in the Agora who had been expecting Panageas, panicked and now started muttering, the names of the leaders of the militia from Mani who were now in Geraki.  Diamantis who was the field warden of Karitsa (agrofilakas Gk), had been with a civil servant of the Geraki agronomy office (agronomia Gk). There leaning against the window, Diamantis looked outside to the agora of Geraki and commented to the civil servant (agronomo Gk).


Diamantis      “Geraki’s field wardens are outside” (Agrofilaki tou Gerakiou exo! Gk)

 “Why did the field wardens and Maniates militia arrive together and why are they staying together?” (Giati ilthan oi agrofilakes me tous Maniates, kai giati kathounte mazi? Gk).


The agricultural civil servant (agronomos Gk) who had leftist sympathies said to Diamantis “Move it, so they don’t find us here!” (trekse , na min mas vroune edo! Gk).


Before the return that day of Geraki’s field wardens, the only government officials in Geraki were Diamantis and Geraki’s agronomo. The police and field wardens of Geraki had previously been harassing leftists and had left Geraki fearing guerrilla reprisals. The field wardens of Geraki returned to the village safely in the company of the Maniates and then quickly returned to their homes with their weapons. Walking through the agora where the Hites had gathered, Diamantis returned to Papageorgiou’s kafeneio where he found some ten patrons in a huddle “pygadaki Gk”. Diamantis was talking with a group that included Vasilis Mitris of Geraki (His daughter Yiannoula later married Anastasis Theodorakakos “Kourlas” of Karitsa), a person who Diamantis did not know personally when a leading Hiti, not Pavlakos, entered the kafeneio. The Hiti walked past Diamantis and his group to the rear door of the kafeneio which opened to the liako where upon he drew his pistol and walked back to the group including Mitris and Diamantis, shooting Mitris at close range. Mitris fell to the ground dead, his body threshing like a headless chicken (san kokoropoulo Gk) at Diamantis feet. The men in the kafeneio moved outside into Geraki’s agora and the Hiti followed them. Here he went up to each of them with one punch and one profanity (mia grothia sti mouri, kai mia vlastimia Gk).


Hiti “To Christo sou, tin panagia sou, ta kandilia sou, to theo sou …… Gk”


Next door to Papageorgiou’s kafeneio was another kafeneio housed on the ground floor of a three level building which was owned by the Papagiannis family. In following years the Papagiannis kafeneio was owned by Nikolas Georgiou Mitris of Geraki who would become Diamantis best man in Australia as well as Spiros Antonis “Pseftis”. Diamantis left Papageorgiou’s kafeneio to enter the adjacent kafeneio through one of two doors fronting Geraki’s agora. There were a number of people in the kafeneio and Diamantis after a short stay there now thought that to get out of Geraki he had to exit out of the kafeneio’s second door which had a path outside leading out of Geraki. From inside the kafeneio Diamantis noticed fellow Karitsioti Michalis Malavazos “Roumanos”, standing there like a column against the  door through which Diamantis had entered the kafeneio (Eitan o barba Michalis o Roumanos ,kai stekotan san kolona apano stin kasa Gk). Here next to the door also was The Hiti standing in front of Michalis Malavazos pulling at his moustache. The Hiti was a tall man but barba Michalis towered over him.


The Hiti “What’s this we have here?” –referring to Michalis moustache (Ti eina afta re pou eheis Gk)


Michalis “This is a moustache my boy, can’t you see, a moustache!  I too was once a brave man, like yourself and I have a brave boy fighting now at Gramo”. (Moustachia! einai re paidi mou , den vlepis, moustachia einai. Eimouna kai ego palikari san ke esena, kai echo kai alo palikari sto Gramo kai polemai Gk)


Diamantis moved forward to go past The Hiti and Michalis to the exit door but the Hiti noticed him letting go of Michalis moustache to throw a punch toward Diamantis head. Diamantis arched his head back and the punch barely touched him. He now quickly walked out of the kafeneio into the crowded plaza (agora Gk) outside and from there skipped down some steps near the kafeneio (pidhao kati skalia Gk) that headed out of Geraki. Diamantis was wearing a chequered American zip jacket sent to him by his uncle Georgos Nikola Grammatikakis “Goumas” who lived in St Paul, Minnesota with the collar upwards as he headed down the steps past another Hiti leader who fortunately for Diamantis didn’t recognize him. Because Diamantis had only a few months before escaped from the Hites in Karitsa, it would have been certain that if the Hiti had recognized Diamantis he would have killed him “O Hitis ean me evlepe kai giati tou eiha figi den ti pidaga pia Gk). At the bottom of the steps, Diamantis noticed Thanasis Lagos an old man who had spent many years in America and he walked close behind him. As the two walked down a narrow path (sokaki Gk) away from the agora, they came across a pair of Pavlakos Hites. Meanwhile the Hites gave the order for the Gerakites to gather in the agora.


Hites “Hey! Hey!, where are you going?” (Eh! Eh! Pou pate? Gk)  


LagosBoys, we were told to tell the people to gather in the plaza” (Paidia, mas eipan na pame na eidopiisoume ton kosmo na elthi stin agora Gk)


Hites “Ok!, ok!, keep going, keep going” ( Ne!  ne!  Pigenete, pigenete Gk)


It seemed that Thanasis had his response ready in case he had come across Hites as he headed home.


Shortly after the killing of Vasilis Mitris, the Hites shot and killed Constantinos Panagioti Tsolomitis “Tomaras” who wasn’t a communist (although his brothers may have been sympathisers) in a nearby street.(*)When Constantinos Tsolomitis’ brother in law Thanasis Maroudas learnt that Constantinos had been murdered by the Hites he took his revolver and travelled to Sparti to find their leader. In Sparti Thanasis had learnt that the leader was in a “kafeneio” but he did not recognize him. In the kafeneio where the leader was present Thanasis  found a friend and asked him if the leader was in the kafeneio. However this friend said to Thanasis that the leader was not there because he recognized that Thanasis wanted to kill leader and so the leader survived (5).


After their encounter with the Hites, Diamantis and Thanasis went their own ways. Diamantis walked towards Geraki’s “Vrisi” where the Hites had left their vehicles and on seeing there were no Hites at the Vrisi he went to the nearby flour and olive mill of Diamantis Grigoriou to ask him to go and see if the area around Geraki’s famous Platania (Plane) tree was clear of Hites. Diamantis Hagias planned to walk past the plane tree into the vegetable fields “Kipous” of Geraki and on to Karitsa but as soon as Grigoriou opened the doors of the mill to look outside, he came across a group of Hites who took him away. Diamantis Hagias who was hiding in the mill now decided on nightfall to leave the mill and enter an open house which adjoined the mill. The house was owned by the Giannakos “Molas” family whose daughter was to become education minister in the national government. Once inside the house Diamantis went upstairs to the “Liako” (terrace with pickets) and from there jumped about 6 metres to the ground .From Geraki he headed first North and then East towards Karitsa. In later years Diamantis thought this jump caused him permanent damage to his hip.


Sixty-one years after this event Diamantis reflected about the leadership of the Hites. “That old cur, he is still alive and gets around. He has this fortress in Mani. He doesn’t leave his home, if he got out that would be the end of him but who would want to dirty their hands by killing him” (To palioskilo zei akoma kai kiklofori akoma, ehi ftiaksi kapio frourio sti Mani sto Gerolimenas. Den vgeni apo to spiti, ama vgi exo den tin pidai ala tora den pai alos na lerosi ta heria tou Gk).


The family of Vasilis Mitris (who was killed in Geraki with Costas Tsolomitis) now live in Ballarat,Victoria.



Massacre at Karitsa-1947 *


In the spring of 1947 elements of another Hite militia, that of  Mitsos Brantitsas, came to a vineyard some 3km south of Peleta and about 1km from Houni in the prefecture of Kynouria whose placename was known locally as Karitsa. Here the militia encountered ten villagers from Peleta ploughing the dirt between the vines with their hoes. The villagers at Karitsa  included the brothers Panagiotis “Davelis” and Dimitris, sons of Yianni Dimitriou Tsebelis of Peleta,  and Panagiotis’ pregnant wife Dimitroula (nee Christakis). Other people there were the Vretakis brothers, Anastasis and Kyriakos as well as Nikolas Koikos,  his wife, Constantinos Diamantakos of Peleta and another two people. The militia confronted Nikolas Koikos and attempted to kill him but his wife grabbed the rifle of the Hites enabling her husband to escape. In the absence of Mitsos Brantitsas his militia proceeded to massacre the other nine villagers. The most despicable aspect of this episode was the rape and murder of Nikolas Koikos and Panagiotis Tsebelis wives with the murder of Dimitroula Tsebelis being particularly horrific. Dimitroula Tsebelis who reputedly resisted and abused the Hites was found along with the others the next day but she had suffered an agonizing death i.e. her breasts had been cut off and she had been skewered with a wooden pike into her genitalia. The only survivor of the massacre Nikolas Koikos (1900-2001), a father of four who with the approaching dusk escaped the militia and hid in the surrounding scrub. The militia tried to find him and eliminate the last witness of this horror and fortunately for Nikolas one of the Hites almost walked on him as he was hiding in the dark. While Nikolas was hiding he saw and called out to Dimitra Georgostathis “Salterena” and her daughter Sophia of Houni who returned to Nikolas with food and water. The militia included two Karitsiotes involveda year earlier in the slaying of Antonis Constantinou Malavazos “Skaltsoros” and the torture of georgos Stavrianos  and who this time were both implicated directly in the atrocities perpetrated against Dimitroula Tsebelis. The next day villagers from Peleta using ladders carried the bodies back to the church in Peleta for burial. Nikolas Koikos hid in the woodland close to the site of the massacre for three days before returning to Peleta for a short time and then fleeing to Athens. It has been suggested that the reason for the massacre was that the group of people at Karitsa on that fateful day included some who sympathized or openly supported the guerrillas. When Mitsos Brantitsas was told of this incident he expelled the two Karitsiotes from his militia.  


* A joint account of Dimitra Panagakos (Chronis), Diamantis Stylianou Hagias, Andreas Theodorou Kalogiannis


Georgos Tountas “Prezakias”- Murder in Vlahiotis-1947



Georgos Tountas was known as “Prezakias” (drug addict) because of his compulsive and unpredictable character.  He made out to be a “manga” (street wise tough guy) around the village, always looking to provoke trouble.  In 1947 Georgos became romantically involved with Veneta Kontogiannis of Karitsa, resulting in Veneta falling pregnant to Prezakias. As time passed and Veneta became more visibly pregnant the Karitsiotis became antagonistic to her about her appearance.  In those times, especially in villages to be pregnant out of wedlock was considered immoral. The situation in the village became so bad for her that Veneta left Karitsa and went to live in the Laconian village of Vlahiotis where she had relatives but where also her lover Georgos Tountas had fled. Georgos Tountas who was a Hites left Karitsa on New Year’s Day 1947 during the battle of Karitsa for the comparative safety of Vlahiotis with its police presence. Karitsiotes with right wing sympathies and Hites had numbered around 30 before an upsurge of guerrilla activity in 1947 forced them to scatter and seek refuge in larger villages with a police or army presence.  Another reason Tountas went to Vlahiotis is that a Profiris from Mari lived there with his wife who was a Tountitsa (cousin). Veneta and her brother Yiannis went to seek out Tountas with the intention of arranging for Tountas to marry Veneta. If this meeting was unsuccessful Veneta would possibly have had to go to Athens where she would have anonymously given birth. Georgos Tountas and Yiannis Kontogiannis arranged to have a meeting in Vlahiotis to discuss Veneta’s pregnancy. The meeting took place, but soon a violent argument ensued in which Tountas flew into an uncontrolled rage grabbing his rifle and killing Yiannis, shooting Veneta in the stomach, killing her and her baby who in a sense was born since it exited her womb.  Tountas left the scene of the murder and went to another girlfriend in Vlahiotis named *Nasioula (9) who was watering her father’s fields along with her paternal grandfather.  The fields of vegetables and citrus trees were watered using a device known as a “mangani” which is a circular wheel with paddles driven by a horse.  Tountas demanded that his girlfriend come with him away from Vlahiotis and when she refused he proceeded to shoot her and some accounts (Diamantis Hagias et al) say he may have also shot her paternal grandfather when he tried to intervene. From this tragic scene Tountas fled to the nearby village of Elos, which was then called Dourali.  In Dourali his “taftotita” ID was checked by the right wing police auxiliary of the village and upon inspection, despite him being a well known Hitis, he was promptly arrested for the murders he had committed and handed over to the police in Dourali. Tountas was then taken from Dourali to the town of *Niata which was the home base of Brantitsas, his Hites commander. He was held in Niata for some 40 days by his former comrades before being transferred for an eventual trial in Levetsova .On the way from Niata to Levetsova and just before Vlahiotis, Georgos Tountas took a dose of poison he had hidden in his clothes and when his vehicle was inspected at Vlahiotis he was frothing at the mouth and was close to death away or, as Diamantis Hagias said recounting this story “kakara pantelonia”, he was only 21years of age. His sister Diamanto who was in Vlahiotis came to her brother and kissed him on his lips and she suffered a mild case of poisoning but she managed to recover. The next day Georgos was buried in Vlahiotis and Diamanto returned to Karitsa (9).The use of poison was a family speciality as practised by Dimitris Tountas “Kalivas” who would dispose of guard dogs by poisoning to break into houses.


Yiannis Kontogiannis who had been drafted into the Greek Army along with fellow Karitsioti Nikolas Yianni Antonis had fought with the Australian Army to defend Crete against the Germans in 1941 in what was called the Battle of Crete. After the defeat of the Greeks and the Allies, Yiannis was captured by the Germans and kept behind barbed wire in a prisoner of war camp. However, he and group of prisoners dug their way under the wire making it to a beach where they took a boat and within two to three hours had landed on the beach at Bouka, Lakonia. The patriko house of Yiannis Kontogiannis was next to the Triantafilos house indicating their common ancestry and that the Kontogiannis family was a branch of the once pre-eminent Karitsa family of Triantafilos.


The Battle of Geraki and Mitsos Brantitsas -1947



In 1947 Diamantis was working at a “Litrivio” (olive oil press) that used horses at Baltisa and which was producing 800  “ocades” of olive oil annually. Diamantis who had stayed at Baltisa from 1941-44 had come home to Karitsa when he found out that many members of the Brantitsas Militia had been killed in Geraki. This account of the events was related to him by other villagers.


A man from the Boutsalis family who was a guerrilla had managed to get into the Brantitsas militia. The militia were in Geraki and Mitsos Brantitsas who wasn’t regarded as a military genius assigned Boutsalis as “omadarchis” (leader) to a group of some 7 men who were to be the principal lookout” filiako” for the militia. It was suspected Boutsalis had been in communication with other guerrillas in Geraki about the activities of the Brantitsas militia. On the day the guerrillas attacked Geraki; Boutsalis had abandoned his post and may have joined the guerrillas to overrun the principal lookout which precipitated the quick fall of the other lookouts. Diamantis had heard that some 35 members of Brantitsas militia were killed that day. After this event Boutsalis joined with the guerrillas but was caught later on by Hites at Tripoli. The Hites took a hand bound Boutsalis in a jeep and headed towards the guerrillas home village of Apidia. When the jeep reached Skala, they tied a rope around the hands of Boutsalis and to the back of the jeep so when the Hites reached Apidia all that was left of Boutsalis were his hands bound by the rope. According to Batsakis and Pragalos (3) the battle of Geraki happened on the 13 November 1947 with the Brantitsas militia sustaining the loss of 40 men.


Mitsos Brantitsas who also had a brother Georgos in his militia came from Niata in Laconia. Diamantis had first met Mitsos Brantitsas as a 15yo when he sold to him 5 of his families 10 oxen “vodia”. Brantitsas who was a butcher by trade would take sheep and goats to Athens where he would have slaughtered and sold.


During the occupation Brantitsas who was a butcher by trade had gone toMonemvasia with a friend to take a boat to the Middle East where he was to join the Greek Army fighting there under Montgomery. A short distance from the shore their boat “kaiki” came across a submarine which the pair mistakenly took for German though it was English. Brantitsas friend who could swim jumped in the water and swam for the shore but wasn’t seen again. Brantitsas who was not a man of the sea tried to silence the boats motor by hitting it with an axe. The English crew drew alongside the boat with Brantitsas, boarding it and shutting down its engine. Brantitsas was taken by the submarine to Egypt where he joined the army of the Greek Government in exile and he returned to Greece in December 1944 going on to become a leading figure in the militias of the Second Antartiko.


Agios Pantelaimonas of Houni

The father of Pantelaimonas was a pagan but his mother was a Christian. After he refused to marry the daughter of the ruler, he was tortured and martyred.


Diamantis was on a trip from Karitsa to Houni to deliver a bottle of olive oil to the church Agios Pantelaimonas .It was at this time that Susanna Anastasi Antonis had taken her dying son to Tsitalia to see a healer who told her that he could do nothing to save him. Susanna on her way back to Karitsa stopped in Houni where she had family. For some unbeknown reason Diamantis completed the trip from Karitsa to Houni in two hours instead of the normal three which allowed Diamantis to be met up with Susanna and her child just before he died. Diamantis agreed to baptize the dying boy and name him Constantinos with the olive oil that he had been intending to offer to Agios Pantelaimonas. In 1953 just before he immigrated to Australia, Diamantis who had trained as a carpenter built his only coffin for Constantinos father, Anastasis Antonis.


Rumours can kill-1948


In 1948 a rumour had spread that the Greek Army was going to draft the eldest males of families who hadn’t previously served. The guerrillas then determined to apprehend the following 5 Karitsiotes who were the “prostates”(eldest) of their families: Yiannis Dimitri Katsambis “Markeos”, Diamantis Stylianou Hagias, Georgos Yianni Tsebelis “Bikos”, Georgos Panteli Tsebelis “Pharmakis” and Georgos Panagioti Katsambis “Tis Maroulas”. Yiannis Antonis “Tsiribis” had been in Geraki at his htima(family plot) when guerrillas came to him asking if he knew the previous five Karitsiotes and where they lived in Karitsa. Yiannis returned to Karitsa but instead of going to his home he visited the homes of the guerrillas’ intended abductees and told them of the guerrillas’ plans. The guerrillas had come to Yiannis because one of his sons, Andreas, was a guerrilla and several others such as Georgos were sympathetic to their cause. Yiannis came to the house of Stylianos Hagias at about 10pm and his son Diamantis who hardly knew Yiannis, came to the door. Yiannis asked, “Piiioooos eiiiinai o Diamantis?”  to which Diamantis replied, “Ego eime Barba Yianni!” Yiannis continued “Fige pedi mou, fige, fige giati erhonte na se piasoune!” The five left Karitsa that night; Diamantis headed for the port of Leonidion , Georgos Tsebelis “Pharmakis” went to stay with his godfather in Skala, Yiannis Dimitri Katsambis “Markeos” and Georgos Panagiotis Katsambis “Tis Maroulas” went to hide in a kalivi at “Apano Longo and ”Georgos Tsebelis “Bikos” left for Poulithra . Diamantis left Leonidion walking all night towards Poulithra and at dawn he reached a spot called “Sta Hania” or “Tzoumo” where he rested. At Tzoumo on a clear day you can see far across the Aegean towards Turkey. As daylight broke Diamantis could see below him soldiers marching but not knowing if they were the Greek Army or guerrillas. They turned out to be troops led by “lochagos” Captain Karandagos who were marching from their base in Leonidion to the Parnon villages of Peleta and Houni. Diamantis went to meet the soldiers to ask them about the veracity of the rumour concerning the drafting by the military of “prostates” (oldest sibling) and they replied it was a lie. Diamantis reached Poulithra where he met up with Georgos Tsebelis “Bikos”. Bikos who was a good student in Karitsa, tells Diamantis his father had given him money to travel to and live in Athens where he was going to continue the family tradition and study bee keeping at the Athens “Melisokomio” where he reached the top of his class. Diamantis had some thoughts here of living in Athens, but he had no money so he returned to Karitsa.


Another lucky escape in Skala - September 1948



At about Sepember 1948, Diamantis who was then working cutting and splitting (“eskise xila”) fir trees “elata” above Karitsa agreed to exchange joists and rafters (“kordes and psalidia”) to a man who was building a house in Mourtia for a half yearling horse “alogopoularo”. The wood was cut and brought down from the hills to Diamantis house, where it was assembled and packed on to the donkeys for the 3 ½ hour journey to Mourtia. The wood was to be taken to Mourtia by Diamantis in 3 journeys using 2 donkeys, one which he owned and another which he borrowed from Dimitris Georgou Drouganis of Neochori. After one of these journeys to Mourtia, Diamantis who was now showing the first symptoms of Typhus decided to go to Skala where he had something to attend to. When he reached Skala, he tied his donkey to an olive tree and went to attend his business when Hites from the Mani militia of Katsafados saw Diamantis and told him to follow them to a house which they were using as a lookout. Here they told him to stand guard at the door of the house, however after an hour or so Diamantis had had enough and left to go back to his business in Skala. Diamantis was in Skala’s Agora when a Skalioti told him that the Hites were looking for him and for Diamantis to get out of Skala. The Hites had been told which donkey belonged to Diamantis by one of 3 Karitsiotes who were residing in Skala at the time and were waiting at the donkey’s side for Diamantis to return. Diamantis ignored the warning of the Skalioti and returned to the donkey and the Hites who were waiting for him. They asked him why he had abandoned his post and he replied he couldn’t wait any longer because of his business in Skala and that he was starting to feel sick from the first symptoms of Typhus. A group of Hites took Diamantis to a small upstairs room with a balcony within the watch house, which was originally a doctor’s clinic. Here the Hites told Diamantis to sit in a chair and remove his shoes, whereupon one of them drew his revolver and attempted to shoot Diamantis. At this moment another Hites in the group, a Vangelis Roumanos of Skala who was a friend of Diamantis grabbed the hand and revolver of the Hites and also called downstairs to another friend of Diamantis, a Georgos Papatsakonas from Tsasi. A stand off ensued with Diamantis eventually taking his donkey and leaving Skala but the saying “filos ton filo soni” (a friend saves a fiend) was never truer. Diamantis believed one of Nikolas Christou Tountas “Skolori”, Spiros Constantinou Antonis “Pseftis” or Georgos Panteli Tsebelis “Pharmakis” had identified his donkey to the Hites. Skolori and Pseftis had left Karitsa after New Year 1947 to live in Skala which had a strong Hites presence and started a business together as fruit vendors. Pharmakis also left Karitsa for Skala at the same time to live in a small room of a restaurant owned by his godfather. Diamantis returned to Karitsa where the Typhus that had showed its first symptoms in Skala now almost killed him. It took Diamantis thirty two days to recover from the Typhus after which Diamantis  delivered the remaining timber to the man in Mourtia but when Diamantis arrived the man had changed his mind about selling his horse because in the time Diamantis had been sick the horse had grown into a magnificent animal. 


Typhus in Karitsa -1948



All Karitsiotes were warned about Typhus in 1948 and told to go to Geraki to be vaccinated by Voidis from Dourali of Laconia, who was a military doctor. However Diamantis ignored the request to vaccinate and within 9 weeks he had caught the disease after which he went to see Voidis in Geraki but the doctor said he could not help him. When a little time later Eleni Nikola Antonis was in Sparti, Voidis asked her if Diamantis was still alive. Diamantis lay lifeless in his house with a temperature of 41C for 32 days. Because Typhus affects the intestines and stomach, his cousin Nikoleta Stavrianos gave Diamantis an enema of soap and water to cool his body. Also caring for Diamantis were his auntie, Ligeri Kontos (nee Mitsinikos) “Fantarena”  would come and give Diamantis water and his sister Eleni would serve him cold tea . Every morning as Diamantis was lying sick in his house, one of Spiros Lambros younger daughters would repeatedly start singing the same song from outside Spiros’s house which was nearby. With the effects of the sickness and the incessant singing, Diamantis was almost at his wits end and later commented, “Ean boraga na sikonomouna, tha tin skotona!-Gk” (If I could have got up, I would have killed her!). Two people from Karitsa died from Typhus and they were Susanna Michali Tountas as well as Panagiota Anastasi Tountas (nee Georgantonis), who was married with 2 children, Antonis and Michali.

Katerina Hagias and her brother Christos also caught Typhoid and her father Apostolis took the children to his auntie Kanelitsa Manokas in Geraki. Apostolis would go to Gythion to buy ice which he took back to Geraki to cool his children’s fever. Katerina and her sister Susanna Tsolomitis “Katehas” came to Geraki to help nurse their young cousins and their friend Agape Tsolomitis “Aganatos” would accompany them as well.


Starving guerrillas and the civil war coming to an end -1949


Towards the end of the Second Antartiko, guerrillas would sometimes camp outside Karitsa and enter the village to steal food and clothing.*Apalodimas the guerrilla leader once came to the home of Apostolis Hagias who was a cobbler and stole clothing and the newly made shoes for Constantinos Thanasi Malavazos “Katsareas”. Apostoli’  second wife Diamanto recognized Apalodimas as they were both from Kosmas, telling him, “den drepese, ti kanis pou pernis apo sakati?”(2) 


A similar incident occurred during the last stages of the Second Antartiko when Panagiotis Georgopoulos who had previously entered Karitsa with a large group of guerrillas on that fateful New Years day of 1947 when four Karitsiotes were murdered once again entered Karitsa on a Saturday during June 1949 with about 30 guerrillas in search of food and clothing. On that Saturday Diamantis had travelled to and from Geraki, returning to Karitsa in the early evening and stopping at Mitsos Grammatikakis shop to play 66 “exintaexsi” outside the shop with his friends. As the group were playing cards Georgopoulos and another 2 guerrillas suddenly appeared in front of them, with Georgopoulos pointing to the other guerrillas where they were going to stand as lookouts. Georgopoulos who was starving then came into Grammatikakis shop where he found and devoured an entire box of Turkish Delights “loukoumia”. The rest of Georgopoulos’s guerrillas who had been outside Karitsa also entered the village, stealing  food, dry goods, clothing, bread even full pots of food from stoves “katsaroles” of the Karitsiotes.

Concerned about their village once again been pillaged, the villagers decided that government soldiers who were garrisoned in Geraki had to come to Karitsa to rid themselves of the guerrillas. However it was late evening and in the absence of telephones only Diamantis volunteered to walk to Geraki to alert the Greek Army of the presence of guerrillas in Karitsa. On his return trip to Geraki ,Diamantis passed the asbestos “kamini”(furnace) of Constantinos and Christos Georgou Hagias “Mavros” which they were operating with the help of Georgos Yianni Antonis “Gyftos”. He was going to ask one of them to accompany him to Geraki ,but they were all asleep. Plaster “asvestis” for houses and “sternes” (underground water containers) was produced after limestone rocks where cooked with wood inside the kamini. The only thing that concerned Diamantis was that the army lookouts might shoot him as he entered Geraki, but when Diamantis reached Geraki late in the evening he found all the lookouts were fast asleep. He then started shouting from the “vrises” and then Grigoriou’s mill in order to arouse the soldiers from their sleep. At Grigoriou’s mill he shouted to the soldiers who were supposed to be on guard ”Ei re mas pieasane, xipnate apo kei”(Hey you were surrounded, wake up!).Upon awaking and still in a daze the guards asked Diamantis “pios eise” (who are you) and why he was waking them up. They then went to Geraki’s Agora to wake up the “Diikisi” i.e. commander of the garrison and Diamantis told the soldiers, “Ama erhontan oi antartes edo tha sas sfazane olous” (If the guerrillas had entered Geraki instead of Karitsa they would have killed all of you).

After trying to phone the army garrison in Kosmas without a reply and then phoning Peleta ,the army decided leave for Karitsa with a contingent of about 30 men deciding Peleta was to far to wait for reinforcements .Diamantis guided the soldiers in the night back towards Karitsa and by dawn they had reached an olive grove near Zavrena when a mule which was grazing sensed the soldiers and started to make noises. The soldiers panicked thinking they had made contact with the guerrillas and immediately fell to the ground .During the march  of the soldiers from Geraki to Karitsa the commander told Diamantis that if the army captured the guerrillas he would give Diamantis an automatic rifle and Diamantis joked he would prefer a pistol.

By the time the army had reached Karitsa, Georgopoulos and his fellow guerrillas had been long gone and within one day Diamantis had walked from Karitsa to Geraki and return, twice! Within about two weeks Georgopoulos was killed in the last phase of the Second Antartiko circa July 1949.



Guerrillas Dimitris “Mitsos” Spirou Malavazos “Roumeliotis” and his brother Panagiotis as well as Pantelis Constantinou Malavazos “Malamas” were killed by the Greek Army in 1949. Mitsos is believed to have been wounded near Langadia, Arcadia and perished in a cave there and Panagiotis is believed to have died near Zarafona, Laconia. Diamantis remembered Pantelis Malavazos “Malamas” and Mitsos Malavazos “Roumeliotis”  very fondly. They were both respectful caring people and in Diamantis opinion and knowledge, had never done other people harm. Guerrillas Andrea Yianni Antonis and his wife Katerina were killed in 1949, Andrea by the Hites leader Pavlakos and Katerina by the Greek Army.


The final rout of the guerrillas happened with the fall of Grammo and Vitsi in Thessaly and the sealing of the Yugoslavian border. General Papagos and his Army came to Peloponnesus in 1949 and within 3 months the guerrillas had been defeated. During the final stages of the Second Antartiko the guerrilla leader in the Peloponnesus, Nikolas Latsis from Agios Vasilis who had been in hiding was wounded, captured and then taken to Kosmas by the Greek Army. Latsis, a lawyer was to be transferred to Sparti via Geraki and just after leaving Kosmas the arresting group which included an army sergeant who was in conversation with Latsis during the journey, passed the spot where 120 Italians under the command of Festuchi were killed by guerrillas in 1943.*According to Constantinos Batsakis and Dimitris Pragalos ,on the 27 July 1943 near Kosmas, 200 Italians were routed by ELAS, leaving 85 dead and 36 wounded in an engagement called the battle of Kosmas.(3).Here Latsis turned to the sergeant and said “Evasilepsa, Evasileva kai tha Vasilepso”(I ruled and I will rule again). The sergeant thinks to himself, this man is a lawyer, he has “lires” (gold coins from the war) to stay out of jail so the sergeant pulls out his revolver and summarily shoots Latsis. In Sparti the sergeants  report said “O sinagonistis Latsis, epekipse ap’ ta travmata tou” (Our comrade Latsis succumbed to his wounds). Apalodimas who along with Latsis was a major figure in the Peloponnesian Antartiko was killed by a villager from Gouves when he was hunting at a place called Papaditsa (between Gouves, Vlachioti and Agios Andreas).


Migration to Australia


The Voyage from Athens to Australia in 1953


Diamantis left Karitsa on the morning of Tuesday 22 September 1953 catching a lift by truck to Sparti.  After the one-hour journey from Geraki to Sparti he caught the bus for the eight hour trip to Athens arriving there on Tuesday night.  In Athens, he stayed with his cousin Chrystanthi Panagioti Hagias until he departed.  While there he did some shopping and bought himself a suitcase for the trip. His voyage to Australia, like that of his brother Dimitris’, was paid by the Australian Government.


Departing Piraeus the ship’s first port of call was Port Said on the Egyptian coast.  Egyptian traders on the shoreline of Port Said would sell goods to the passengers by throwing up a rope to which they attached money for the goods they wanted.  The rope to which the money was attached was retrieved by the Egyptians and the goods purchased were secured to the ropes and pulled up to the passengers.  The Egyptians at Port Said had a good understanding of the Greek language and would refer to the passengers on the ship as, “sahlabouha”.  The ship stayed in Port Said for two to three hours before departing for the Suez Canal. 


Leaving the Suez Canal, the ship entered the Red Sea and went on to the Ethiopian Port of Aden.  The passengers disembarked at Aden and stayed there for about six hours to see the city.  From Aden, the ship headed for Fremantle and the passengers delighted at the sight of whales and dolphins in the Indian Ocean.


Arriving in Fremantle the ship docked for about ten hours before commencing the five-day voyage across the Great Australian Bite to Melbourne.

Arriving in Melbourne and leaving Mount Gambier 1953-1954

Diamantis left Greece on Sunday, 27 September 1953, and arrived in Melbourne on 28 October 1953.  Also on the ship were Yiannis Mitris and Anastasis Piliouras of Geraki, Fotis Manolakos from Mani and Elias Karounos from Mystras.  He stayed overnight in a migrant hostel and in the morning caught the train for the Victorian country town of Bonagilla, a town whose primary function was to house and finally settle migrants throughout Australia.  He stayed in Bonagilla for 15 days, while waiting to be assigned work. Initially that turned out to be asparagus picking and sugar cane cutting in Queensland, work which he rejected as he did not want to go to Queensland. 


Eventually he was allocated to a farmer 18 kilometres outside Casterton a rural township on the Glenelg River in Victoria. The farmer was a Dr Crossley who had recently retired from medical practice to run a farm inherited from his wife’s parents. It had 12 – 13,000 sheep, cattle and many horses.  In the three months Diamantis worked for Dr Crossley he never reached the property’s boundaries – it was that large.  Diamantis had been accompanied to work with Dr Crossley by another migrant, a Greek man from Epirus he knew Theodoros from Epirus who as it happened came from the same area in Greece as the only long-term Greek resident in Casterton, a man by the name of Thoma who had lived in Casterton for some 30 years.  Thoma ran a fish café in the township, and some five years earlier had brought out to Australia his wife and daughter.


Diamantis and Theodoros arrived in Casterton on a rainy night, and were taken to Dr Crossley’s farm by his son.  They arrived at the farm and were taken to the auction house, an enormous complex of some 50 rooms, a great number of beds and four fully equipped kitchens, which doubled as living quarters for the workers.  They were the only occupants as it was out of season for the shearers. 


On the first Saturday after their arrival at the farm, Dr Crossley’s son took the two new workers into Casterton where they were introduced to Thoma.  Thoma, a man of about 60 years, helped Diamantis and Theodoros to buy their groceries in Casterton and with any translation they required.  He also told them that the following Saturday they were to stop work at midday and come to Thoma’s café and have some beers.  Saturday arrived and Dr Crossley’s son took the pair to the café where they stayed drinking until Monday morning when they returned to the farm by cab paid by Thoma.  Thoma invited them on the weekends to come to the café and told them that if Dr Crossley could not bring them into town to hitch a lift by waiting on the side of the road, putting out their finger and calling out, “Casterton”, to passing vehicles. This they did on two occasions.


On the weekends, when they stayed at Thomas’, they met some of his friends; one was an Orthodox Christian from Syria who invited the pair to his family’s home for a meal.  The prepared meal was a casserole just as would be prepared in a Greek household.  On another occasion, an unmarried friend of Thoma took Diamantis, Theodoris as well as Thoma and his family to see Port McDonald in the southeast of South Australia.  On their return from Port McDonald, they passed through the town of Mount Gambier and that is when Diamantis decided to leave Casterton and move to Mount Gambier.  In Mount Gambier, Thoma knew a Greek family of Asia Minor descent by the name of Kypriou who was introduced to Diamantis when they stopped there. When it came to leave Dr Crossley, Diamantis pulled out his dictionary and told Dr Crossley, “Notice!” to which Dr Crossley exclaimed, “What!” So, after three months in Casterton with Dr Crossley, who had treated him so well, Diamantis moved to Mount Gambier where he rented a flat. While in Mt Gambier he worked at night washing dishes at two cafes owned by Greek immigrants; one was the “Australia Café”, owned by the family of Yiannis Kypreou which included siblings Despina, Paraskos and Michalis who remained lifelong friends; and, the other was the “Victor Café”, owned by Vangelis Nitis from Sydney who hailed from the island of Castelorizos. The cafes were usually packed every night, serving grilled fish, and steak and chips cooked on wood stoves.  In the day time Diamantis worked for the South Australian Railways building tracks, and also at two sawmills; the “Café Park” and the “Saw Lake”. It was during this time that Diamantis unrepentantly came across Diamantis Malavazos “Roumanos” of Karitsa at the Mt Gambier Post Office. Diamantis Malavazos who had only recently arrived in Australia was working on a Mt Gambier Pine plantation, planting seedlings and lived in a hut on the plantation.


Diamantis left Mount Gambier after about 14 months on 12 February 1955.  He travelled to Loxton in the South Australian Riverland with three other people, a Greek from Mount Gambier who is a co-patriot and friend of Thoma, a Scotsman and a Pole.

Mount Gambier to Loxton and Adelaide 1955-1959

The four left Mount Gambier and by nightfall had reached Loxton and stayed there overnight.  The next morning, they travelled to Berri where they stayed for a couple of hours and then on to Renmark where they stayed for two days looking for work.  There was plenty of fruit picking jobs available, but the farmers were offering daily wages and not a contract rate.  From Renmark they travelled to Barmera where they were offered extra hours so they decided to stay there on condition that they start work immediately if it did not rain.  That night it rained in Barmera and rather than wait a week to commence work they immediately gathered their possessions and drove to Adelaide where they separated and went their own ways never to see each other again.


In Adelaide Diamantis found accommodation in a group of two storey houses on the corner of West Terrace and Wright Street in the city.  These houses where known among the Greeks of Adelaide as “ta mavromateika spitia”.  Diamantis stayed at the “mavromateika” for a couple of days before moving to Vinrace Street, Adelaide to share a rented house with fellow Karitsioti Thanasis Antonis and his family. 


Also living on the lower level of these houses was the family Yiannis Katsambis “Markeos” of Karitsa, as well as Kostas Chengas of Neapolis in Laconia.  Yiannis Katsambis stayed at the “Mavromateika” until 1956 when he bought a property on Wright Street adjacent to the northeast corner of Wright and Selby Streets for 1700 pounds.  In 1960, Yiannis bought the corner property for 3000 pounds. This allowed him to join the two properties and establish a “kafeneio”.  Yiannis suffered misfortune in 1961 when he was arrested for selling unlicensed liquor and went to jail for three months.  Yiannis’ family moved to Lukes Place in the city in 1968.


There were no shower facilities at Vinrace Street, so Diamantis regularly returned to the “mavromateika” to use a penny operated shower.  While living at Vinrace Street, Diamantis found his first job at John Shearer on Kilkenny Road.  He travelled to work by bus and his job, which he kept for four weeks, involved pouring steel into moulds for the manufacture of farm equipment. Also at John Shearer were Karitsa migrants, Diamantis Malavazos “Roumanos” and Panagiotis Antoniou “Pseftis”.  He then went to work as a cooper of wine barrels at the corner of Anzac Highway and Richmond Road (present day ETSA building).  Diamantis rented Vinrace Street for several months and then moved to McLaren Street in the city where Thanasis Antonis had just bought a cottage style house. There he was paying five pounds a week board.  While living there, he went to work for a furniture manufacturer at Cross Road, Glandore where he won a guinea (21 shillings) on the Melbourne Cup sweepstakes backing a rank outsider. 


Later he went to work for BDH situated behind Rubber Mills on South Road, Edwardstown.  BDH were manufacturers of kerosene heaters and he stayed there for about a year until late 1956. Diamantis’ wife, Ekaterini, also worked at BDH for about a month around April 1956.  He shared accommodation at McLaren Street with Yiannis Malavazos “Pashas” (brother-in-law of Thanasis Antonis) until December 1955.  During this time, Diamantis planned moving to Queensland but this idea fell through.


Leaving McLaren Street, Diamantis packed his suitcase and walked to nearby Hutt Street where got a lift from Yiannis Rebelos, previously of Kefala in Laconia, who was driving a canopied van.  He found a rundown house at 10 Chatham Street in Adelaide owned by an Italian. He spent a month repairing and painting it before the arrival of his fiancé, Ekaterini Apostolou Hagias, from Karitsa.


On the afternoon of 5th Dec 1956, five days after leaving Karitsa, Ekaterini left Athens and went to the port of Piraeus where she boarded the ship Tasmania for Australia. Accompanying Ekaterini on the voyage was Nikolas Haralambou Christakis of Agios Dimitris, a first cousin of her fiancé Diamantis; Antonia Dimitri Vlahos of Geraki who later married Georgos Mitsopoulos in Adelaide; a Marika of Agios Dimitris; and, Stratigoula whose daughter would later marry Ekaterini’s first cousin Panagiotis Thanasi Antonis.   On or about January 3, 1956 Diamantis travelled by train to Melbourne to meet his fiancé, whose voyage to Australia he had sponsored.  When he arrived at Port Melbourne, he, along with about a hundred other men who were also anxious to see their loved ones arrive, decided to hire a boat to take them ten kilometres out into the bay where the ship Tasmania had anchored.  On 4th January 1956, 31 days after Ekaterini had left Piraeus aboard the Tasmania, Diamantis welcomed his fiancé in Melbourne. They took the interstate train that night, arriving the next day back in Adelaide on 5 January 1956. A month later they were married.


When Diamantis arrived in Adelaide he had 1000 pounds, and by the time he had picked up his fiancé from Melbourne, he had 700 pounds so he deduced that financially he was going backwards.  When Ekaterini came to live in Chatham Street, the cutlery consisted only of four knives, forks and spoons as well as a ladle.  They were married at Taxiarchis church in Franklin Street, Adelaide on 12 February 1956 with Nicholas Mitris of  Geraki as their best man. The wedding dress Katerina wore was borrowed from Eleni Kypreou, wife of Paraskos Kypreou from Mount Gambier and Diamanti wore Paraskos’ wedding suit. Paraskos and Eleni returned to the island of Rhodes when their children were infants. The reception for about 110 people was held in a restaurant on Gouger Street in the city. The restaurant which was five or six addresses East of Morphett on the south side had been proposed to be run by Diamantis and his best man Nikolas Mitris as “kafeneio”, but this fell through.  Their first child, Stelios, was born on 27 January 1957. By March that year the family had moved out of Chatham Street into 265 Gilles Street in the city to share a two storey bluestone maisonette with the Kalogiannis brothers, Vasilis, Andrea and Antonis, and Fethra, the widow of their late brother Georgos who had been killed by an Adelaide tram.  After arriving in Sydney, Australia on 13 July1957 aboard the General Langfitt, Diamantis’ younger brother Dimitris (b1930) stayed at Gillies Street with Diamantis for about six months. Dimitris would later sponsor the migration of his younger brother Thanasis who arrived in Melbourne on 8 July 1961 aboard the Patris. He also sponsored his sister Eleni and her family; husband Yiannis Tsolomitis and children Nickolette, Katerina and Christina who arrived in Melbourne  on 31 March 1964 aboard the Patris.   While living at Gilles Street, Diamantis and Ekaterini’s second son, Apostolis, was born on 1 February 1958. Diamantis went to work at Hills Industries, Edwardstown and in January of 1959 bought his first car, an FJ station wagon for 600 pounds.  He bought the vehicle on a Saturday and not knowing how to drive, had Georgos Mitsopoulos, “a batsanaki” of his best man Nicholas Mitris, drive the car from the yard to his house in Gilles Street. Georgos took Diamantis to Majors Road, Reynella, then a dirt road, and there he, with great difficulty, attempted to drive his car, which had a manual gearshift. 


The week he bought the car, he planned to drive his family to Mildura for grape picking. He had previously worked in Mildura three years earlier in 1956. However, because his driving skills were so poor, he went to a Greek kafeneio in Hindley Street and found someone who held a license, also planned to go to Mildura and was willing to drive the family there.  Once outside Adelaide, Diamantis drove for a while on the open road with relative ease but when he reached Mildura he found the traffic difficult to negotiate.  By the time the grape harvest had ended, he had become a competent driver. During the years 1957-59 Diamantis also worked picking apples and cherries in the orchards of the Adelaide Hills. 



After returning from Mildura in 1959 and having earned sufficient money for a deposit on a house, the family left Gilles Street and moved into their own home on 27 October 1959.  The house at 45 Amherst Avenue, Trinity Gardens was an old bluestone bungalow with a large back yard, wild rabbits, an outside toilet, a hand operated (bore) pump that was not working, and came with an old lodger by the name of Jim.


In early 1960 the couple again went fruit picking but this time at Loxton, picking on the block of John Platten whose grandson of the same name would later have a distinguished AFL career playing for Central District in the SANFL and Hawthorn in the VFL/AFL. John Platten had two farms with grape varieties Sultana, Gorgo and others, as well as stone fruits peaches and apricots. Also working on Platten’s block was Diamantis’ brother Dimitris with his wife Margarita and sister Dimitroula who arrived in Melbourne on 20 July 1959 aboard the Aurelia and whose passage to Australia he had sponsored. Dimitris and Dimitroula after leaving Loxton headed to Port Pirie to pick peas. In December 1960 they all picked cherries in the Adelaide Hills before returning to Loxton in 1961, but this time each working on different blocks.


On 20th January 1964 Diamantis and his family who were working at Loxton travelled to Adelaide to welcome his cousin, Dimitra Chronis, from Houni of Arcadia, who had arrived the day before in Melbourne aboard the Patris. Upon picking up Dimitra all of them made the journey back to Loxton.


The family returned to Mildura for the last time in 1965 accompanied by a young Greek migrant and university student Thanasis Zafiris.  The children went to school at Redcliffs Primary for term 1, walking half a kilometre to catch the bus near the railway track to the school.  There Diamantis got to meet Petros Tsounis, an old Ikarian migrant, who had a block in Sunnycliffs dedicated to dried sultana production.  Some 23 years later, his son, Stelios, would marry Georgina Tunis (Tsounis) granddaughter of Petros Tsounis.


Diamantis and family including Dimitra Chronis next returned to Loxton in 1966 to work on the block of George Stacey, which produced apricots for drying. In 1966 Dimitra became engaged and later married to Apostolos Panagakos of Papadianika in Laconia.



Other sources


1)      Eleni Tsolomitis-Interviews

2)      Katerina Apostoli Hagias-interviews

3)      Constantinos Batsakis and Dimitris Pragalos “Giotsali and Agios Dimitrios”

      4)  D E Katsambis-Personal Research

      5) Thanasis “Tom” Stamatopoulos-Personal Research

      6)  Michalis Yianni Michali Malavazos- Interviews

      7) Katerina Rozaklis nee daughter of Michali Malavazos “Roumanos”

     8) Combined account of Diamantis Hagias and Antonis Katsambis “Davelis”

     9) The account of Antonis Katsambis “Davelis”

    10) Georgos Tsebelis “Farmakis”-interview

   11) Margarita Thanasi Antonis (Malavazos) – Interview

   12) Dimitris Yianni Katsambis “Markeos”-Interview


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