Year when photo was taken:1943Country name at time of photo:PalestineCountry name today:Israel
This is a picture of myself (on the right), with a friend from the air force (on the left).
He was a Jew from Turkey who was nevertheless a Greek citizen. During the war the Turks had forced the Jews, the Armenians and the Greeks to pay a special tax.
And those that would not pay, would be taken to prison. Since he was a Greek citizen, he fled Turkey and came to serve in the Middle East.
After we escaped from Athens to Turkey, they put us on a train to Aleppo. Aleppo is in Syria, the nearest place to the Turkish borders.
At Aleppo they also interned us for two reasons, one to pass the control for spies and two to check whether we had any diseases.
We were on quarantine. Then we had to go through the recruitment office. Since I was together with all the people from the air force, who were from group captains to pilot officers, they told me that "you will come with us to the air force". And for as long as I served in the army I was everyone's favorite kid.
From there, they told us that we would go to Gaza. There were army camps there for all the Greek who had to do their first training, the infantry training there. There were land army officers there to train us.
In the Middle East I started finding myself again. I felt free. I felt like a human being again. I had some value that I could perhaps use. Because, I have to say, that everything came easy to me. I had no problems with my colleagues, the trainers, or the instructors.
I was getting along very well with others. Especially in the Air Force, I was under the protection of those that we had left together. No protection was actually needed, it was enough that they knew.
In Gaza we stayed for as long as it was needed to finish our training, that is for four months.