Chrisoula Borda (née Bochoyianaki) was 16 years old when war came to Crete in 1941. A courageous young woman, inspired by faith, she immediately tried to help, bringing food and supplies to prisoners of war. First she helped the wounded Italians and then, following German occupation of Crete, British and Australian prisoners. She helped free a prisoner of war (POW), ‘Freddy’, only to be betrayed by her oldest friend to the Germans. She and her sister Anna were tortured and imprisoned, moved around Europe to a series of prison camps - including twenty months at Auschwitz - before she was free again.
Chrisoula and her family eventually moved to Australia in 1968. Throughout her life, Chrisoula struggled to accurately express her experiences of being a captive of the Germans. However, she still desired to tell her story. Although in her 70s and her English was limited, Chrisoula taught herself to type and used Greek, German and English dictionaries to translate her words.
The resulting memoir is a remarkable story of courage and faith, leavened with moments of compassion and Chrisoula’s irrepressible senses of humour and righteousness. The Australian War Memorial is pleased to be able to present her story and allow her words to be read and heard.
Chrisoula introduces us by writing of her brother and friends going to war, while English, Australian and New Zealand troops garrison the port of Heraklion. The relatively mild bombing raids by Italian aircraft quickly changed after the German invasion began. She describes the air battle as scenes from hell.