PhDr. Aikaterini Franc Sgourdeou

* 1935

  • “Eventually we decided to move to Athens, which was very complicated, even the local metropolitan had to speak up for us. We boarded a small wooden fishing boat, powered by sails. I remember this journey very well because I was a sort of a captain there – I was feeling fine but my mother and brother were both quite sick. And I took care of them. Funnily enough, my brother later became a captain of a trading fleet. We were very much alone on the boat, except for the captain – a typical sailor – and a lady with her husband. The worst thing was that we were not allowed to take almost any personal belongings, only the bare minimum. The most important thing we owned was a chicken coop with hens. That was the most important item in terms of livelihood… during the war.”

  • “The travelling situation after 1968 became complicated. I had to have a permit to travel to Greece while also having an invitation from Greece. Despite holding a Greek passport. But I had to travel to Greece, I had friends there. I needed to take care of things there. It was also complicated by the fact that my brother had gotten seriously injured on a ship and lived in Argentina at that time. His wife was an Argentinian Greek. And I had no relatives there, no grandfather or grandmother. So we had to come up with various solutions with my husband. For instance, Greek rock climbers invited me and the children to Greece to visit my husband who was at a congress with them. Or another option was for me to get to Greece and invite my husband and children to come. I would send the invitation as a Greek citizen. And it was just complicated like this. Then we had to prove that we had people to stay with in Greece and that we had money there. I had an income from renting a property there so I could prove that. We would travel every year but then my husband said I shouldn’t make him travel so often and that he would get a heart attack if he had to come up with more and more invitation scenarios. I worked in Mikulčice for a while at an archaeological site, then I was employed as a home labourer. Ironically, when I wanted to go to Greece I had to sign papers stating that I wouldn’t be meeting any emigrants from Czechoslovakia in Greece. That’s what life is like when politics gets messy like this.”

  • “I believe that keeping traditions alive allows us to bond with a location. And at the same time it helps the nation’s continuity. It is important for small nations too, especially ones like the Czech and Greek nations, to preserve these traditions – without becoming nationalist and while maintaining some level of knowledge about that national history in the context of the world.”

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    Brno, 16.08.2016

    délka: 02:02:13
    nahrávka pořízena v rámci projektu We're not alone: the stories of our minorities
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Sometimes history is up, sometimes it comes down

IMG_9353_aik.jpg (historic)
PhDr. Aikaterini Franc Sgourdeou
zdroj: rodinné album

Aikaterini Franc Sgourdeou was born on the Greek island of Samos on 26th April 1935. Her father worked as an electrotechnician, her mother, as most women at that time, was a housewife. She took care of Aikaterini and her older brother. In 1943 her father died under suspicious circumstances after having refused orders from the Italian occupying forces requiring him to increase the power plant machines‘ output to produce more light on the island. After his death her mother decided to go to Athens with her children. It was not easy since the ship had to travel through mine fields. The Germans occupied Pireus and later Athens as well. The family wasn‘t faring well and moved frequently. In 1961 Aikaterini Franc Sgourdeou was awarded a scholarship which allowed her to pursue a PhD programme at the Paris-Sorbonne University. At a scholar meeting she met her future husband Zdeněk from Czechoslovakia. After marrying him in 1965 she moved to the socialist country. Although the republic recognised her degree from Sorbonne she only worked in her field for a short time before becoming a so-called home labourer. Following 1968 the regime made travelling to her home country nearly impossible for Aikaterini, despite the fact that she still possessed a valid Greek passport. She also became a suspicious person because her high level of education didn‘t correspond to her occupation. In 1987 she started teaching Greek. Gradually she managed to create the Modern Greek study programme at the Masaryk University and build an extensive library focused on Greek literature. Along with others she promoted not only the Greek language but also Greek folklore and culture. In 2000 she contributed to the creation of the Lyceum of Greek Women in Czech Republic. She lives in Brno with her family and she still works at the Masaryk University.