The Life and Times of Diamantis Stylianou Hagias
By his son Stelios Diamanti Hagias
The First Years 1924-1940
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,
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
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
German occupation and The First Antartiko 1940-44
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
Constantinos Tsebelis “Lordos”
*At the beginning of the German
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.
In the early 1940’s Andreas Yianni
Antonis, had been working in
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.
During the early part of the
Occupation, the Germans attacked with Stuka fighter-bombers, British forces
that were assisting Greek guerrilla activity in
*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.
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
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.
In 1941, Dinos Koroneos of Papadianika had travelled to
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
They continued their travels on a coastal path passing Kokkinia, a
small village of a few houses, and headed towards the
Bravely, the young boy left Papadianika for
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.
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).
the horsemen until they reached the
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 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
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
During the first Antartiko,
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
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
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
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
The Second Antartiko 1945-49
The end of the German Occupation
in Dec 1944 saw the return from
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
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
Antonis Constantinou Malavazos
“Skaltsoros”, a Karitsioti who was secretive about his left wing sympathies
during the First Antartiko was murdered by fellow Karitsiotes on
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
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
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)
Guerrillas numbering about 150
assembled on the outskirts of Karitsa on the evening of
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 .
*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 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
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 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 -
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
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 , 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
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
The Death of Katsareas-
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 –
Diamantis had been
in Geraki on the
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
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)
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
Hites “Hey! Hey!, where are you going?” (Eh! Eh! Pou pate? 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).
family of Vasilis Mitris (who was killed in Geraki with Costas Tsolomitis)
now live in
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
* 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
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
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
Mitsos Brantitsas who also had a
brother Georgos in his militia came from Niata in
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
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.
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
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
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
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,
The final rout of the guerrillas
happened with the fall of Grammo and Vitsi in
left Karitsa on the morning of
the Suez Canal, the ship entered the Red Sea and went on to the
in Fremantle the ship docked for about ten hours before commencing the
five-day voyage across the Great Australian Bite to
he was allocated to a farmer 18 kilometres outside Casterton a rural township
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 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.
weekends, when they stayed at Thomas’, they met some of his friends; one was
an Orthodox Christian from
Gambier to Loxton and
living on the lower level of these houses was the family Yiannis Katsambis
“Markeos” of Karitsa, as well as Kostas Chengas of Neapolis in
were no shower facilities at
he went to work for BDH situated behind Rubber Mills on
Diamantis arrived in
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
returning from Mildura in 1959 and having earned sufficient money for a
deposit on a house, the family left
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
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
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
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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