Leon Idas

Leon Idas in family portrait, Athens Greece, 1929

Photographed by Mitch Braff in September of 2003

Biography

Leon Idas was born in 1925 in Athens, Greece and grew up in an ethnically diverse neighborhood with his father, a textiles merchant, mother, four brothers, and sister. He attended a private school run by the Greek Orthodox Church.

Shortly after the beginning of the German occupation of Greece in 1941, sixteen year-old Leon joined a group of partisans fighting for the liberation of Greece under a socialist banner. At that time, there were three groups of partisans in Greece, socialist, democratic, and loyalist. Leon fought and served as communications specialist with the partisans for more than two years, setting up wires that wound through the trees in various villages to enable telephone communication.

Approximate area of partisan activity for Leon Idas

The partisans lived in and organized armed resistance against the German army from bases in the mountains of Greece, aided by nearby villages, British airdrops of supplies, and their own resourcefulness. They employed mostly ambush and guerrilla tactics against the German army, and the Germans in turn attempted to eliminate the partisans by destroying villages that supported them. During his more than three years with the partisans, Leon suffered hunger, lack of adequate clothing and had virtually no contact with his family, save for a single encounter with one of his brothers who was fighting for another partisan group.

At the end of the war in December 1945, Leon left the partisans and returned to his family home in Athens. Once there, he was reunited with what was left of his family and learned that his parents and brother Gabriel had died in Auschwitz during this time. Leon eventually made his way to the United States with no more than 50 cents in his pocket and settled in Baltimore, MD. He married, raised a family of three sons and one daughter, and started his own clothing business, Royal Vintage Clothing. Leon passed away in April of 2013.