Leon Idas in family portrait, Athens Greece, 1929
Photographed by Mitch Braff in September of 2003
Leon Idas was born in 1925 in Athens, Greece, and grew up in an ethnically diverse neighborhood with his father, who was a textile 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.
Leon left the partisans at the end of the war 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.