Thanasis died a few weeks ago at eighty-odd. His dapper little figure was a familiar sight around the village. He was deaf as a post and amost always alone, an isolate.
During the dark years of the German/Italian occupation (1941-44) and afterwards, it seems that Thanasis, who can only have been a very young man at the time, was an informer. The houses of suspected communists he had denounced, were burned. Our neighbour Niko says there were deaths, shootings.
Whatever may have actually occurred, Thanasis’ ostracism by his fellow villagers was a palpable fact. We have seen him, not merely ignored, but pushed aside by his fellow villagers, and this fifty years later.
What puzzled us was why he stayed, why he never left the village to lead a life elsewhere, free from his past.
The years of the occupation and the civil war which followed, are only remembered by the elderly. It seems that the then Prime Minister, Rallis, set up what were called security battalions, collaborationist militia groups, recruited from local communities, whose remit was to purge their communities of known communist sympathisers, which in rural areas could mean anyone you had a grudge against. Many people at the time thought that the threat of communism was a greater evil than the fascist occupation.
It wasn’t until 1949 that anything like civil peace was restored. Old hatreds still lie not far below the surface.