The following testimony was submitted through our online questionnaire by a relative of the family.
1. From which region of the Ottoman Empire were your ancestors from?:
My paternal grandfather (family name Patralis) and paternal grandmother (family name Christoforou) were from Simitli (today Semetli) in Eastern Thrace.
2. How did their life change when the Neo-Turks and/or the Kemalists came to power? :
Following a decade if not longer of persecution, those that survived were part of what became the population exchange between Greece and Turkey. For those that were not, they left their last breath within the village that was their home for generations.
3. Were they deported during the genocide? If so, when, where to, and describe their experience:
The surviving family were part of the population exchange with Turkey, settling in what is known today as "Nea Raidesto" on the outskirts of Thessaloniki within Greece's northern State of Macedonia. From what has been passed down within the family, their trek was a treacherous one filled with atrocities bestowed upon them. Our family lost our great-grandfather Georgios Constantinou Patralis in 1922 during this journey, a victim to those atrocities.
4. Were they held in a concentration camp or labor camp? If so, where was it located and describe the conditions :
5. Did they lose family and friends? If so, how did they cope?:
Those that survived speak very little of those times. One can only imagine what they witnessed. I do know that we lost direct family at the time of the exodus. They were direct relatives (siblings) of my great-grandfather. They were either killed or were held back and were never seen again. From my grandmother's side we know very little of those that remained other than they were lost too. We suspect that our surviving family did not and do not cope, living in silence when it comes to this genocide.
6. Did anyone within Turkey including Turks try to help them during the genocide? :
Again from what we hear or have heard from surviving family, those Turks that might have wanted to help, did not in fear of their own lives. So in essence, no one helped. Many took advantage of peoples' misery.
7. How did they cope emotionally with their genocide experience? Did it affect the remainder of their life? :
Most of our family that remain or are the generation directly following the victims of genocide, say very little about this. Their silence gives us many answers.
8. Did the denial of the genocide by the perpetrator (the successor state of Turkey) affect their ability to form closure?:
There is no closure. Turkey's denial succeeds in keeping these wounds very open.
9. How did they feel about Turkey after the genocide? :
It varies from mistrust to out and out hatred. I had the opportunity to speak to an uncle who has know passed. He was directly immersed within the population exchange. He was very old when I spoke with him. One could still sense the fear in his voice. We can only imagine what he witnessed.
From what we are told, people in Simitli were herds people dealing with livestock. Having arrived in Thessaloniki, they were fortunate enough to be settled in an area known as Madjarda which later became known as Nea Raidestos, as it is known to this day. The name Madjarda was the name of the Turkish land owner who controlled all the farming lands of that area. Families that settled in Madjarda had to learn a new way of life having never farmed before. All of Simitli was settled in Madjarda, where they built what is known as Nea Raidestos. They simply refer to things as Ta Palia (the past) when, what they're actually referring to, is losing everything.