We never learned about it in history class; the US doesn’t formally recognize it as a genocide; I would probably not know about it, were it not part of my extended family’s history. This post is written by a distant cousin, recounting his great aunt’s (I’m related to this part of family by marriage) experience with the genocide and escape from it. The story is extremely sad, but worth a read.

I never met Aunt Eva, but even before I knew the full story, we grew up hearing about the 10 year old enduring a death march only to be permanently separated from her immediate family, a child being sold into servitude to save her life. How her brother found her and married her off to save her, only for the Allied forces to lose her town, her husband to be sent to a concentration camp and her, very pregnant with twins, being beaten until someone sneaked her onto a Greek boat. The beating had induced premature labor. The twins died, and were promptly thrown overboard.

“So many years have passed,” she said softly. “Let them be far away. My babies were born, they died. What could I do?” Then, in English, “My heart. I talk. It’s pounding.”

The babies’ bodies thrown overboard is the part my whole family knows. That’s the part that we knew at a young age.

She and her husband were eventually reunited and lived a life in the US. They had several children and did not speak much of their experiences.