Forced emigration and desired return: the social and psychological consequences of the wartime evacuation of Greeks

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Ewa Nowicka

Abstract

The subject of this article is the fate of the Greek political refugees – specifically personsforcibly resettled in Poland and other countries of the Soviet Bloc, evacuated from territoriesengrossed in the Civil War of 1946-1949. After a long period in exile, some returned to theirhome country and began a new life, struggling with economic, familial, social, linguistic and cultural problems. The history of the Greek refugees and their re-immigration illustrates the irreversibility and irreparability of the social and psychological damage done by forcedmigration. Returns to the homeland did not reinstate balance, and did not ease the dilemmasinitiated by the first resettlement. History is stuck in the memories as well as the everyday lives of the return migrants and their social milieus; this creates divides, mutual strangeness, and social tensions. Compulsory movement of populations – leading to the severance of connections with one’s fatherland, hometown, mother tongue, and home culture – causes subsequent conflicts and identity problems which continue to haunt those who returned to their birthplace.

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