Kostas Kipuros grows up in the 1960s as the son of political immigrants from Greece in Radebeul and Leipzig. He studies journalism and works for the Leipziger Volkszeitung (LVZ). In 1989 he is a first-hand witness of the demonstrations and short period of political upheaval that followed the fall of the Berlin Wall.
Greek in Radebeul
Between 1949 and 1950 more than 1,000 children and young people from Greece arrive in the GDR, including Kostas Kipuros’ mother, who is sixteen at the time. They are children and adolescents from families who had fled the Greek Civil War.1 Initially they are accommodated in Radebeul, where also Kostas’ parents will later meet. Kostas spends his early childhood in Radebeul.
East Germany means exile for Kostas Kipuros’ parents, Greece remains home. The Greek community is ever present in family life. A special event is the visit of the grandparents in 1964. They have not seen their daughter for fifteen years, and meet their grandson for the first time, who is nine years old at the time. This visit is the first and only time Kostas will ever see his grandparents. The Greek exiles in the GDR are stateless. Thus, getting a visa for other countries is difficult. Then again, returning home after a visit to communist East Germany often results in harassment for Greek citizens by the authorities.
I can put myself in two different mindsets. That is invaluable.Kostas Kipuros, Leipzig 2022
Kostas Kipuros talks about his childhood in the Greek community and the importance of culture.
When Kostas enters second grade, the family moves to Leipzig. After graduating from school, he completes a traineeship at Berlin Radio and subsequently studies journalism at Karl Marx University in Leipzig. In 1979 Kostas Kipuros starts working as an editor in the news/foreign affairs department of the Leipziger Volkszeitung. The newspaper reports to the district leadership of the Socialist Unity Party of Germany (SED), thus representing the official party line. He himself says about working in the newsroom: “What kind of work it was? Well, quite ambivalent obviously, because we had to follow the line of the SED editor […]. Although we saw the contradictions of the system, we were nevertheless disciplined by the party and internal scissors.”
Besides writing his second passion is music. Kostas Kipuros is the guitarist of the band Die Zapfen—Rock für feine Nasen. They cover internationally known songs, such as those by Cat Stevens and the Rolling Stones. Particularly impassioned and successful they are with songs of the Cologne rock band BAP.
Kostas Kipuros talks about his music and the birth of his son.
Becoming a father
His life as a musician takes a turn when Kostas becomes a father. In 1982 his son Nikos is born. Although the child was not planned, Kostas is an enthusiastic father. Together with his partner and son he moves into an apartment in an old building in Leipzig.
Relocating to Greece?
In 1987 Kostas Kipuros’ parents return to Greece. His decision to remain in East Germany disappoints them. It causes a rift in the family. And it is not until the late 1990s that Kostas begins to feel at home in Athens too.
Monday demonstration and political change
In September 1989 the Monday demonstrations against the political situation in East Germany start in Leipzig. In October 1989 hundreds of thousands of people march for reforms and free elections. Kostas Kipuros has been following with great interest and hope the developments in the Soviet Union and Mikhail Gorbachev’s reform policies since 1985. As a journalist, he is now present at the protests and the new political beginnings.
I realized: This is not a counterrevolution, this development is desperately needed.Kostas Kipuros, Leipzig 2022
After the fall of the Wall, the editorial board of the Leipziger Volkszeitung breaks away from the SED. The editorial staff elects a new editor-in-chief, and Kostas Kipuros takes over the foreign affairs department. The brief democratic phase comes to an end when the West German media groups Springer and Madsack take over the publishing house in 1991. These are exciting times. Many West German politicians come to Leipzig to establish power and party structures in the new Länder. All of them eagerly show up at the LVZ editorial office for an interview.
Kostas Kipuros is able to continue working in his department. He remains an editorial member of the Leipziger Volkszeitung until his retirement in 2016.
Today he lives in Leipzig and works on the project Zwischen Heimat und Fremde – Die Geschichte der griechischen Emigranten in Leipzig/Sachsen (Home and Foreign Parts—The History of Greek Emigrants in Leipzig/Saxony; a book and a DVD are planned). He now primarily plays music with the band Susanne Grütz & Compania (Greek music by Vasilis Tsitsanis, Markos Vamvakaris and Mikis Theodorakis), but also with his old band Zapfen.
Julia Oelkers conducted the interview in Leipzig in 2022 .
Text: Julia Oelkers
Research and research protocol photos: Nguyễn Phương Thúy
Video edting concept: Julia Oelkers
- The Civil War raged in Greece from 1946 to 1949 between the Communist Party-led Democratic Army of Greece and the U.S.- and British-backed forces of George II and Paul of Greece respectively. When the communist defeat became apparent, the leadership of the Democratic Army of Greece, headed by Markos Vafiadis, decided to send thousands of children to the socialist countries. About 1,100 were taken in by the GDR, the so-called »Markos Kids« in reference to Vafiadis. Source: https://www.mdr.de/geschichte/ddr/politik-gesellschaft/kinder-fluechtlinge-griechenland-ddr-griechen-100.html