How to ask great-grandpa about the past?

So, I'm at my great-grandpa's house and I'm staying tonight. It's village house, thinking my grandma grew up here, it's very old. Looking out of the window, I can see a white car and the small minaret of the local mosque.

He's very old, currently 91-years-old. We lost grandma 2 years ago, when I first started to gain interest in our family history. She was very sick, I never had the chance to ask her some questions.

This is my maternal family. They came from Thessaloniki to Istanbul (and some other places around Eastern Thrace) in the 20's, when Ataturk and that retard called Venizelos decided to send Greece's Muslims to Turkey and take Christians. We call it Mübadele. My great-grandpa was born in 1924, according to his ID, but he was recorded after they came, so he's probably older.

I really want to ask him questions about our family and how it was in the past. But I feel very awkward while trying. What should I start from?


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Most Helpful Girl

  • Just do it. If he's fought in any wars, ask him about that. I would definitely ask about what happened to his life during the Holocaust--was he even affected in anyway?

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    • We weren't in that war.

    • No. But he LIVED through that. I would ask if he had heard anything about it, any propaganda on the radios, or if he knew someone that lived in the affected areas from 1939-1945.

      He was alive. I'm sure he wasn't ignorant completely about what happened then. It was a World War.

    • Turns out, he was a soldier (for 4 years) in Gallipoli, but since we were never attacked, they didn't do any fighting, they were just there. It was like today's compulsory military service. He knows about the Battle of Stalingrad.

What Guys Said 2

  • I have asked this question to all my aged relatives and old family friends in my efforts to create a family history. Not just the genealogy, but with some flesh on the bones, so to speak.
    Ask him if he can explain more of the culture, and ask directly about the work his family did, where they lived. Don't be afraid. Most of your elderly relatives will be very pleased that you are showing an interest in their past and their ancestors' past.

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  • is he still alive?

    u can ask him i guess... he will tell u :)

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What Girls Said 1

  • just say that you have some questions to ask him, then start asking.

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