History is repeating itself on the Greek island of Lesvos almost a century to the date. It was early September of 1922 when thousands of destitute refugees from the emptied cities and towns of Asia Minor were filling the country roads, town squares— even the cemeteries— of the nearby Greek islands they were able to escape to, following war and destruction in their home towns.
Fast forward almost a century to the present day. September 2020.
More than 12,000 human beings— sixty percent of them women and children— were forced to flee their temporary “homes” inside the Moria refugee camp on the island of Lesvos after a fire decimated the entire facility.
Most of them are huddled along rural roads and finding refuge under olive trees while the Greek government and various prosperous European nations rush to find a solution to this humanitarian catastrophe.
Striking photos have gone viral on social media, showing many of these desperate, homeless people who have found refuge amongst the dead, in the cemeteries of Lesvos.
Just like in 1922, when arriving refugees from Asia Minor did, on this same island.
“Πήγαμε στο νεκροταφείο. Ούτε σπιθαμή να σταθείς. Είχανε προλάβει άλλοι, πριν από μας, και πήρανε την πρωτοκαθεδρία. Βγάλανε απ’ τους τάφους λιωμένους κι άλιωτους νεκρούς και βάλαν οι ζωντανοί τα στρωσίδια τους και τα παιδιά τους. Γυναίκες γεννούσανε πρόωρα. Είχε διαδοθεί στους γύρω μαχαλάδες: «Οποία είναι για γέννα, στο νεκροταφείο. Παραστέκουνε και γιατροί!». Γερόντισσες βράζανε νερά για τις λεχώνες με προσάναμμα κόκαλα πεθαμένων!” -Διδώ Σωτηρίου, Ματωμένα Χώματα
“We went to the cemetery. There was barely room to stand upright. Many others had gotten there first and taken all of the room for themselves. The living dug the homes of the dead and laid their children inside. Women were giving birth prematurely. It was announced throughout the neighborhoods that “Whoever is preparing to give birth should head to the cemetery Doctors are standing by. Nuns were boiling water, using the bones of the dead as firewood.” -Dido Sotiriou, Farewell Anatolia
No matter what your political or religious affiliation, no matter what your beliefs are about refugees and asylum seekers. Whether you classify these people as “invaders” or simply as individuals seeking a better life— these images by stir the soul— if you have one.
Human beings, mothers, young children, seeking refuge and comfort amongst the final resting places of the dead, waiting for the prosperous nations of Europe to determine their fate. Scenes similar to what the world was experiencing in 1922.
Will you Support The Pappas Post for as little as the cost of a cup of coffee per month?
Is The Pappas Post worth $5 a month for all of the content you read? On any given month, we publish dozens of articles that educate, inform, entertain, inspire and enrich thousands who read The Pappas Post. I’m asking those who frequent the site to chip in and help keep the quality of our content high — and free. Click here and start your monthly or annual support today. If you choose to pay (a) $5/month or more or (b) $50/year or more then you will be able to browse our site completely ad-free!