THE CHILDREN OF GREECE
Ste, Many readers of The Spectator will have been disturbed by „the story of the abduction of children from Greece into neighbouring countries. Some may have seen the Appeal to the Civilized World on this subject, circulated this spring by the Hellenic Boy Scouts and Girl Guides Associations. I have just received a letter (dated July 12th) from Athens, from a former member of this Hall, who is not only a person of very sound judgement, but has also, through the business in which he is engaged, been in a position to travel about and observe the actual facts of the situation. May I quote now the relevant paragraphs of his recent letter?
" It has been confirmed that about 10,000 Greek children have so far been abducted against their will and are now held in camps— often under appalling conditions—in the Russian satellite States. This has been done in spite of the direct appeals to those countries to return the children, made by Greece, U.N,O. and the British and American Governments. Within Greece the result has been a complete disruption in the normal family life of the peasants of northern Greece. Thousands of children have been brought by their distracted parents to the Greek Army for safety and evacuation to the south. The Greek Government, with the very great assistance of
Queen Frederica's fund, has evacuated many thousands and is daily evacuating more to the greater safety of the south and of the islands. Around where I live there are now many ' Children's Towns '— Pedopolis—where hundreds of the kids are housed in converted school buildings, hotels, camps, etc., and cared for by voluntary wprkers. My wife and I have visited several and talked to the children. Some of them tell of horrible cruelties committed before their eyes by the raiding Communist bands—they tell them in small, almost unemotional voices as if it has numbed a part of them. Many are wretchedly thin and ill-looking from the privations of their terror-bound lives in bandit-overrun territory.
" The first thing they ask for on arrival is pencil and paper to write to their parents who have stayed behind to keep the farms in the hope of better and safer days, or who have crowded as refugees into one of the northern towns. Jannina has now to cope with six times its normal population as the refugees flock in. A touching thing is the Greek passion for learning even amongst these young children. Of their own accord, many have brought their school books as almost their only luggage in preference to anything else when they evacuated their villages."—Yours very truly,