A Prisoner of War's Story

prisoner of war story

Stratis Doukas.
The Center for Byzantine, Ottoman and Modern Greek Studies.
The University of Birmingham, 1999.

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Doukas's story is one of the most powerful literary accounts of the ordeal of those Greeks who were unable to escape in time across the Aegean to mainland Greece after the Greek-Turkish war of 1922. Acclaimed for its oral simplicity and captivating narrative qualities, it is the story of Nikolas Kozakoglou, an Anatolian Greek prisoner of war, who escapes death by pretending to be a Muslim. His story is one of survival, not heroism, hatred or revenge. It is a testimony to sheer human versatility and resilience and indirectly reveals how, although Greeks and Turks lived together on the whole peacefully in earlier times, they also remained deeply ignorant and suspicious of each other's religious practices. A Prisoner of War's Story can be seen as an episode of a larger epic, blurring the distinction between fact and fiction, legend and history.


After days spent in fear, an officer came with forty soldiers and took charge of us. They took us out into the yard and separated us from the civilians. That's when I saw my brother. They put us in lines of four and ordered us to kneel so they could count us.
The officer, who was mounted on his horse looked us over and said, 'I'll see to it that your seed is wiped out!'
Then he gave the order to march.
There must have been about two thousand men in our column.
They marched us straight to the marketplace. A Turkish mob was waiting there and like a order, fell on us. From all sides they threw tables, chairs, glasses - whatever they could lay their hands on. There were European sailors with them in the coffee houses and they were looking on for a bit of fun.

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