Ing. Sotirios Pupakis

* 1935

  • “I was to go to study a metallurgy school, but there were not many secondary schools of metallurgy here, and all were full. There was one in Kladno, and in Brno and Ostrava in Moravia, but none of them could admit us. They offered us to study the first grade at a secondary school of machinery in Prague, since during the first year, all secondary industrial schools taught the general basic subjects, which are very similar for all schools. If we made it through the first year, some spots would certainly open up later and we would be able to transfer. We agreed and began studying an industrial machinery school. I was attending the one in Prague in Betlémská Street, it’s close to the National Theatre. It no longer exists today, there is something else in the building, which is a pity, because it was an old, 19th century school, and I considered it great honour and luck to be able to study there. The first year was over, we passed, but we no longer wanted to leave Prague to go to that metallurgy school in Kladno, because meanwhile we have got to know Prague, and moreover, we lived in a dorm together with all the other Greeks who studied at other industrial school in Prague. Whereas in Kladno we would be there alone, with different classmates, different school… We thus decided: ´It doesn’t matter, metallurgy or machinery, whatever.´”

  • “The life in these children’s homes was quite regimented. You couldn’t do what you wanted. Firstly, we didn’t have any money; we were receiving food, and everything we needed from them, just like in a family. But the discipline was quite strict, almost like in the army. Times when you were allowed to go out were determined, but you didn’t know where you were allowed to go. We were allowed to go out a bit on Saturdays and Sundays, but we didn’t go out much. It was not a normal life, but we were happy, and there were many things we had to catch upon if we wanted to make it. Just imagine, someone who doesn’t speak the language, gets admitted to the school. Grammar school students were attending this school. When I say grammar school students, I mean those who had finished the elementary with all As, and who were to continue at grammar schools, unlike those who could only go to study a vocational school after they had completed the eight grade of the elementary. I got among A-students from Czech schools. You can imagine how hard it was if we wanted to keep up with them.”

  • “In autumn, when we harvested the fields, and stored the harvest in the granary, soldiers came to our village. They surrounded it early in the morning and began burning down the houses which belonged to partisans. They chased us out, right out of our beds, and set the house on fire. They didn’t allow us to save anything from fire. Only, luckily, they let us release the animals so that they would die in the fire – we had cows and some small animals. Animals burnt to death in other houses. For a year we thus stayed without living, without a house, without anything .We survived the winter thanks to friends, we were staying with some friends, and we almost lived like beggars.”

  • “There is one thing I criticized the party officials for – not those I Greece, because they were not governing anything, but those here: they were in their positions for life. Once they got to a position from which nobody could push them down, as long as they were obeying their superiors, they were able to hold these positions throughout their lives, which spoils one’s character and which also gives rise to the cult of personality.”

  • “I started a family soon after, partially also because you were nobody if you had no proper home, just sleeping rough in some hostels. Thus I married my wife in order to create a home for each other. Besides, my wife had two younger siblings here, they were still attending school and staying in children’s homes. Later, when they got admitted to secondary industrial schools, at least they had some place they could go to during the holidays, some idea of home.”

  • How was the meeting with your family in Bulgaria? “Quite strange. When I parted with my parents and left home, I was a boy of twelve or thirteen, and when we met, I was already seventeen, or perhaps even eighteen. Our parents were not together, father was in another town, in Ruse, close to the Rumanian border. We were passing through on a train. I wrote to him that we would be going there, and he was waiting for us with his friend. We went to visit our mother, who was in central Bulgaria. Mother said hello to father, and he told her: ´I got a friend of mine here.´ She welcomed me: ´Sit down, please.´ I sat down. She seemed puzzled, she thought I looked too young to be some father’s friend. I had a bulge on my left leg under the knee, now it’s gone, but I had it and it hurt, I was not able to kneel down. Mother knew about it. She ordered me: ´Show me your knee!´ I showed her my knee and only then she recognized me. That was a joyous reunion. After that long time I met my siblings, they grew up. Meanwhile, my little brother had been born, and I saw him for the first time. This was my first visit.”

  • Celé nahrávky
  • 1

    Ostrava - Poruba, 04.11.2010

    délka: 59:55
Celé nahrávky jsou k dispozici pouze pro přihlášené uživatele.

I was the only one in Czechoslovakia, the rest of the family remained in Bulgaria.

Sotirios Pupakis
Sotirios Pupakis
zdroj: Pamět Národa - Archiv

Mr. Ing. Sotirios Pupakis was born in 1935 in the Evros region in northeastern Greece near the Turkish border. His father was a partisan in the Democratic Army of Greece (DSE) and the family was persecuted for it several times; they even got interned in a concentration camp. After his village had been burnt down, Mr. Pupakis with his brother left for the neighbouring Bulgaria; his parents arrived there later. After a year, he was selected among a group of children who went to Czechoslovakia. His parents and siblings however remained in Bulgaria, and Mr. Pupakis was thus the only one of the family to live in Czechoslovakia. He was growing up in a children‘s home in Šilheřovice. Then he learnt the wood-working trade in the Škoda factory in Pilsen and studied an industrial school in Betlémská St. in Prague. He was working as a designer in the Vítkovice Ironworks, and he completed a distance-study of technical university in Brno. He had been a member of the Communist Party of Greece (KKE), now he is a member of the Communist Party of Bohemia and Moravia (KSČM). He lives in Ostrava.