#4 – the marriage with Sophie, my grandmother

They met each other in Spain.

My grandmother was from Graz, Austria. In the mid-Thirties she was involved with a group that practiced illegal sterilisation of men. Some of them got arrested and Sophie choose to hide for a while in San Sebastian, Spain.

On his way to Barcelona in 1936/1937 my grandfather Panayot passed Graz where he met Sophie’s sister, Grete Paunovic (later Zahrastnik), my great-aunt. She gave Panayot her sisters contact details.

By then Sophie already had a daughter, born in 1929. Selmy Eckhart was her name. During this time she entrusted her to her sister Grete where Selmy stayed when Sophie followed Panayot to Bulgaria in 1941. They planned to let Selmy come over shortly afterwards, but because of the war it all turned differently.

Selmy tragically died in a bombing of the family house in Graz in 1945. At that time Grete was kept in concentration camp Ravensbrück because of her participation in the resistance and she survived. In these circumstances mail wasn’t yet working properly and it took years before Sophie received the tragic news.

So there she was, an Austrian in a strange country, not speaking the language, a second baby (my father) on his way in 1945 and a teenage daughter left in her home country. Idealist Panayot seemed not to know how to handle this nearby grief and didn’t, so it seems, gave it much attention.