Once, when talking about Thessaloniki I had noted that ‘this city had wounded me unimaginably.’ It was the city to which my family migrated in 1941 to avoid the Bulgarian occupation in Kavala.
It was in Thessaloniki that I spent my childhood in the years of the war, playing with kids my age in the churchyard of Aghia Theodora, shooting empty cans or pressing our ears against the telegraph poles to hear the hum of the infinite world. One day one of my friends, Ino, left on a cart from Egnatia Street with the caravan of Jews, with the enormous yellow star on his sleeve. And he never came back.
These memories awoke when I saw Vassilis Loules’ documentary KISSES TO THE CHILDREN. The stories of Rosina, Iossif, Eftyhia, Shelly and Marios who were saved from the Holocaust thanks to the Christian families that adopted them, bring to life the memory of thousands of Jewish children: those who never had the chance to grow up. And we who grew up in the same city with their absence, we lived through the second annihilation they suffered after the concentration camps. They shrank as a presence and they were annihilated as memory in a city that was developing and meticulously hiding its wounds and its guilt.
… Loules’ documentary also brings back some of the values we must rediscover, like those of solidarity and the comradeship that some people offered the Jews and that some paid for with their lives.”—Vassilis Vassilikos, from Ο Γιώργος Χρονάς, ο Βασίλης Βασιλικός και ο James DeMetro γράφουν για το ‘Φιλιά εις τα παιδιά’ Πηγή