How did we get here? with the bite of a monkey!

How did we get here? with the bite of a monkey!

“It would not be an exaggeration to say that two hundred and fifty thousand men perished
from the bite of a monkey,” wrote Winston Churchill.

The Plagia and the Nea Plagia.

When someone hears “Nea Plagia” they automatically wonder why “Nea”, did they exist
before? And indeed they used to exist! Nea Plagia is a refugee village, like many others in
the prefecture of Halkidiki with the same adjective designation. The old Plagia, for which
there are references from 1650, were located where the Turkish village of Tepecik is today,
40 kilometers west of Istanbul.

But why were the Greek residents of Plagia and many more villages in Eastern Thrace forced
to leave their homes and move to Halkidiki? It all started about 100 years ago!

The leadership of Greece during the 1st World War.

World War 1 and the Prime Minister of Greece Eleftherios Venizelos is sure that he has to
enter the war on the side of the “Compromise”. On the other hand, the German-born Greek
Vasilias Kostantinos is the opposite and supports the neutral position of the country. Under
the pressure of the allied forces, the kingbis forced to leave with his eldest son Georgios and
his second son and Don Juan of the time, prince Alexandros.

Prime Minister Venizelos enters the war and Greece counts only victories. The young king
Alexander realizes that choosing to participate in the war only brings success for his country
and develops strong ties with Prime Minister Venizelos. During that period, King Alexandros
confides in him that he is in love and wants to marry Aspasia Manou, an amazing woman,
who, however, does not come from a royal family. Everyone knows that this relationship is
dangerous, but Venizelos promises to help the lovesick king. The trust between the two men
strengthens the country even more, which has entered a path of glory and triumph, leaving
behind the civil conflicts of the past. The country’s triumph was sealed with the Treaty of
Sevres in August 1920 and the Greece of 5 Seas and 2 Continents is a fact! As a result, and
confident of the popular recognition of his diplomatic successes, Venizelos called elections
on October 25, 1920 to continue to rule triumphantly with his king.

The monkey bite.

Everything is going smoothly for the King, the Prime Minister and Greece until an ordinary
morning walk in the Royal garden, will develop into the biggest nightmare of the Greek
nation to this day. On the morning of September 17, 1920, the king was walking with Fritz’s
wolfdog, in the forest of Tatoi, where the royal palaces were located, and there he was
bitten by a monkey, which had fought with his dog.

Initially, the wound from the bite does not worry the doctors. However, as the days pass, the
king’s health begins to falter. The wound becomes infected, causing other complications that
gradually lead to sepsis. Alexander suffers from horrible pain. The Prime Minister visits him

every day and stands in front of him for hours, as does Aspasia Manou. His amputation may
save him, but doctors hesitate to amputate him, as an disabled king would weaken the
power of the throne. Alexandros finally loses the battle and passes away on October 12,

The return of Constantine.

With the death of the new king, the opposition of Venizelos transfers the dilemma to the
upcoming election “King Constantine or Venizelos”, while promising that he will bring back
all the soldiers from the front.

Venizelos loses the election and goes into exile in France. The new government is preparing
to reinstate King Constantine, while the protector powers warn the Greek government that
the reinstatement of the king is a hostile act against them. The new government ignores the
allies and advances to the front with the aim of capturing Ankara.

The Asia Minor disaster.

The change of attitude of the allies, the impoverished Greek army, the successive mistakes
of the government and the reorganization of the Turkish forces under Mustafa Kemal, lead
to the Asia Minor disaster and the greatest national tragedy our country has ever known.
Desperate Greece once again asks for the help of Venizelos who returns to save what can be
saved and in July 1923 he signs the Treaty of Lausanne which, among other things, provides
for the exchange of Greek and Muslim minorities.

And that’s how we ended up in Nea Plagia and Nea Propontida, Halkidiki.

So in 1924, our grandparents were forced to leave their homes and their crops and set off
for Thessaloniki and then for Halkidiki where we are today. Our homeland is Nea Plagia in
the Thermaïkos bay 40 kilometers southeast of Thessaloniki, soon we will celebrate 100
years of our relocation to the area but one question remains:

Where would we be if that monkey hadn’t bitten the then 27-year-old King Alexandros?

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