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Jews in Wartime Greece*

by Steven Bowman
Of the many tragedies that befell wartime Greece the destruction of its Jewish
population is not the least significant. The story of this one ethnic group is of interest
both because of its historical implications and because of the possibility it presents
as a case study in the vicissitudes of that period.
What is called the "idea of Greece" or its corollary - "Greek identity" - has ex-
erted a strong assimilative effect upon the many ethnoi who have entered within this
Greek sphere of influence, with the result that they have abandoned their former ethnic
identity. Through this hellenizing process, they have come to relinquish their own former
social and religious traditions and have simply become Greeks. The Jews, too, adopted
the Greek language, mores, and lifestyle, and through their particular skills contributed
to the development of Greek civilization. Contrary to other ethnoi, however, they have
demanded the right to practice their ancestral religion and retain their own identity.
This test of religious freedom has challenged both religious hospitality and political
tolerance throughout Greek history. Greece, more often than not, has withstood the
test. For the modern period, however, this essl!y is concerned with the tragic decline
and destruction of the various Greek Jewish communities during the 1940s in the wake
of the German invasion. 1
Greek Jews came from a number of backgrounds. The oldest elements of the Jewish
community in Greece were the Romaniotes, Greek-speaking Jews who stemmed origi-
nally from Palestine; their wide dispersal in the first century was noted by the Alexan-
drian philosopher, Philo Judaeus (ca. 30 B.C.E.-C.E. 45). Until the thirteenth cen-
tury, all Jews in Greece became hellenized in speech at least by the second generation
after their arrival. The Arabic-speaking Karaites exemplify this process: immigrating
in the tenth century, they had become Greek-speaking by the eleventh. 2
During the thirteenth century new conquerors parceled out areas of Byzantium.
For the next few hundred years Greece, despite her fragmentation, would become a
haven for the persecuted Jewries of Roman Catholic Europe. Alongside the Romaniote
communities, there appeared Italian-speaking Jews. The beginnings of the Sephardic
immigration followed shortly, while groups of Ashkenazic Jews also made their ap-
pearance, speaking German, Hungarian, French and Polish, and so forth. 3
From the fifteenth century on came increasing numbers of Spanish and Portuguese-
speaking Sephardim, perhaps 125,000 in all. Ultimately these assimilated nearly all
the non-Greek-speaking Jews to their liturgical rite and even to their linguistic tradi-
tion. Greek and Italian-speaking communities persisted, however, in Crete, Euboea,
Epiros and the Morea. In the nineteenth century, Italian traditions were revived among
the Jewries of the Ionian Heptanisi and the Aegean Dodekanisi. Also, by the end of
the century, through the efforts of the Alliance Israelite Universelle, French quickly


became the main intellectual and cultural language of upper class Jews especially in
Salonica. 4
On the eve of independence (ca. 1820), the majority of the Jews in Greece were
Sephardim, especially in Salonica, a city which was basically a Jewish enclave, and
in the larger towns of Macedonia and Thrace. 5 The islands of the Ionian Sea nourished
communities of Italian-speaking Jews of various origins as did the Archipelago and
the Dodekanisi. In the Morea and Crete there were a handful of Jews of Romaniote
origin and of the Portuguese-and Spanish-speaking Sephardim that, as has been men-
tioned, came to Greece in the sixteenth century.
During the course of the War of Independence (18208) all of the Jews in the
emerging kingdom, except for the small community in Patras, were destroyed along
with their ineffectual Thrkish protectors. 6 Within several decades, Athens was attracting
Jewish merchants from the neighboring areas still under Thrkish control, especially
merchants from Izmir, one of whom was recently credited with having founded the
well-known flea market at Plateia Monasteraki. 7 By the 18708, Jews were matriculating
at the newly-established University of Athens, while the movement for henosis (= union)
with Greece on the part of the Heptanisi was supported by the synagogues of Con-
stantinople and elsewhere. 8 In the independent "rehellenized" Kingdom of Greece, it
was only natural that Jews too would openly take on a Greek way of life and support
their king.
After the Balkan wars that added Macedonia and Thrace to the Kingdom of Greece,
Greek-speaking Jews were coopted to win over their Sephardic coreligionists in Salonica.
Agents were sent north to teach Greek and preach Hellenism. A pro-royalist news-
paper (La Boz del Pueblo) was founded to help influence public opinion. On the eve
of World War I, the powerful community of Salonica was openly wooed to support
the unification of Macedonia with Greece and to oppose the call for Macedonian in-
dependence or even return to Ottoman control. The pivotal importance of this com-
munity was based upon several factors: ca. 70,000 strong, this Spanish-speaking Jewish
enclave was the determining economic, social, and political component in the life of
the city. To the Jews, Salonica was simply a Jewish metropolis, the Jersualem of the
Balkans. At the same time, however, it was not a monolithic community. The diverse
congregations added a factional note to community politics, while sectarians such as
the Donmeh (seventeenth-century converts to Islam who covertly remained Jews)
flourished. The latter, along with other minority elements (the Armenians, for example),
had supplied a number of leaders to the Young Thrk movement at the beginning of
the century. In addition, propagandists of socialism agitated for labor reforms, while
proponents of the new Jewish nationalist movement, Zionism, made their appearance.
Also, since the end of the previous century, the same economic factors that encour-
aged the mass emigration of Jews from Eastern Europe set in motion a parallel trend
among the poor but energetic Jews of Thrace, Macedonia, and the islands (in partic-
ular Rhodes). Against this background of internal ferment, the Jews of the newly-
conquered north were cautious in their appraisal of the phenomenon of growing na-
tionalism among the neighboring peoples. Thus history circumvented them. Tides of
patriotic fervor swept through the area, washing these Jewish communities into the
backwaters of history where they were quietly expunged during the next generation.
Jews in Wartime Greece 47
It was World War I and the succeeding decade that signaled the end of a Jewish
Salonica. (Parenthetically one may note an interesting parallel with Eastern Europe
where the ravages of World War I and its aftermath accelerated the decline in the sta-
bility and structure of Ashkenazic Jewry.) The great fire that ravaged Salonica in 1917
destroyed much Jewish property and crippled Jewish life there. The impact is summa-
rized by Joseph Nehama:

Suddenly the hand of fate struck Saloniki. On the Sabbath of 18 August 1917 at 2 a.m.
a terrible fire ignited which was fanned by a strong north wind, the infamous Vardar, and
it encompassed the whole city. Some French seamen who were on leave in the harbor at
that time wanted to douse the flame with water prepared for such an emergency. But the
harsh and pitiless General Sarrail did not permit it, despite the pleas. Not one drop to put
out the flame: war needs take all precedence! Meanwhile the city was in flames. On pretext
of fighting the fire, the engineering corps threw bombs haphazardly; this, of course, added
to the holocaust. Within a few hours the destruction reached gigantic proportions: 4101
structures covering 227 hectares were razed; 15,000 families totaling 73,000 souls were home-
less. Only 10 per cent of the property lost was insured. The tragedy struck the Jews in par-
ticular: their losses were immeasurable. 10,000 families, some 54,000 souls, slept under the
open skies. Over half the structures destroyed belonged to the Jews. Almost every school,
32 synagogues, some 50 small houses of prayer, every cultural center, the [literary] circles,
clubs, libraries, learning centers, all were destroyed. The glory of Jewish Saloniki, its flavor
and atmosphere - the fruit of twenty generations there - disappeared. 9

In the succeeding five years, through a policy of induced inflation, Eleftherios

Venizelos succeeded in expropriating much of the city. Taking advantage of the de-
struction of the Jewish quarters, fortuitously located on the site of the ancient city,
the area was marked for urban restoration; proprietors, mostly Jewish, were paid off
with devalued funds and were relocated elsewhere. More land was acquired from the
extensive Jewish graveyard, continuing a policy initiated earlier by the Ottoman authori-
ties. 10 Thus, from being a predominantly Jewish city in 1917, by 1922 Salonica had
become half Greek, at which time the second phase in the hellenization of the city
was initiated. Venizelos welcomed the Anatolian refugees to Macedonia and particu-
larly to Salonica, as replacements for the Muslims leaving for TInkey in that politically-
fortunate but humanly-tragic exchange of populations. As for the Jews, still
predominantly Spanish-speaking, they were reduced from 70 per cent to 30 per cent
of the population. This social and economic restructuring of the city induced the Jews
to vote with the king and against Venizelos, thereby assisting in the latter's defeat in
the elections of 1920 which led to his self-imposed exile. Shortly after his return to
power, he avenged this setback by banning Jewish participation in Greek national elec-
tions (1923), and for a time, the Jews were restricted to choosing only their own com-
munal leaders.
Further difficulties appeared for the Jews in the 1930s in the wake ofthe spreading
influence of fascism and nazism among the poor and dispossessed in Salonica. Stylianos
Gonatas, governor general of Macedonia from 1929 to 1932, supported the newly-
founded Greek fascist party, Ethniki Enosis Ellados (National Union of Greece), or
EEE, and sent its student section to the Kambel quarter of Salonica where they burned
a large number of Jewish homes in June 1931. Venizelos censured Gonatas for this
action, thus breaking the alliance that had existed between the two since 1923 when

Gonatas supported Venizelos' plan to hellenize Salonica. Anti-Jewish activity, how-

ever, continued until the middle of the decade (ostensibly to combat an alleged Jewish
plot aimed at bringing Salonica and its environs under Bulgarian control). In the wake
ofthese disturbances, nearly 10,000 Jews left Salonica to find new lives and new centers
for themselves in Palestine (1932-1934).11
The professions that these Jews brought to Palestine were of considerable value
to the developing Yishuv. They included bankers (the Israel Discount Bank was founded
by the Recanati family), doctors, lawyers and other professionals, craftsmen and ar-
tisans, dockworkers who contributed to the development of Jewish port facilities in
Haifa, fishermen, and politicians. The loss of these skilled individuals to the Greek
economy and the subsequent annihilation of the well-developed social, economic, and
intellectual infrastructure of Greek society during the Holocaust - in particular the
newspaper editors, reporters, typesetters, printers, silk merchants and other textile
manufacturers, tobacco entrepreneurs and skilled workers (especially women)-had
severe ramifications for postwar Greece. In many of these sectors, after World War
II, Greece had to create a new commercial and industrial base. This aspect of the war
years has been little appreciated in recent studies of postwar Greece. 12
Against the background of this political and social upheavel, John Metaxas con-
vinced the king to suspend the constitution on 4 August 1936, thereafter governing
as dictator until his death in January 1941. Although both a royalist and an admirer
of Mussolini and Hitler, Metaxas nevertheless officially banned any public anti-Jewish
demonstrations and outlawed the EEE. On the other hand, he forbade the appoint-
ment of any new Jewish or Armenian officers in the Greek armed forces. Owing to
this ban on public meetings, intellectual life in general declined during this period and
Jewish clubs, among others, were adversely affected. Subsequently Metaxas suspended
all Jewish French-language newspapers while allowing the Jewish Spanish-language
newspapers to continue publication. Even so, the latter rapidly declined, dropping from
a daily circulation of 25,000 in 1932 to a mere 6,000 in 1940. After OXI Day, however,
Metaxas permitted publication of all the French-language newspapers. (On 28 October
1940 the Greek leader replied to Mussolini's pre-dawn ultimatum with a succinct NO:
"OXI" in Greek. That day is annually celebrated as a national holiday in Greece.)
Nevertheless, several newspaper editors, for example, Sam Modiano, had by this time
become impoverished. 13
With the declaration of war, thousands of Jews marched off to Albania to fight
against the Italians and help bring about their defeat. It is perhaps not by accident
that, of the two national heroes cited for special awards for their heroic actions, one
was a common soldier and the other a Jewish officer, Colonel Mordecai Frizi, from
Chalkis, who had served long and honorably in various Greek armies. 14
In the Italo-Greek campaign of 1940-1941, Jews ofSalonica, Macedonia, Thrace,
and Epiros figured prominently in the army. As noted, these areas had been annexed
only in the previous generation; this is but one indication of the extent to which Jews
accepted and supported Greek government. Unofficial estimates indicate that, out of
a total population of some 80,000 Jews on the eve of the war, there were 12,898 soldiers,
including 343 officers and NCOs. In action against the Italians and Germans, they
suffered losses of 513 dead and 3,743 wounded, of whom 1,412 became crippled; many
Jews in Wartime Greece 49
of the latter were ultimately sent to Birkenau by the Germans. In the Greek army, com-
panies 50 and 63 were composed mainly of Jews from Salonica and Macedonia. The
best known combatant was the abovementioned Colonel Frizi. He became the hero
of the Battle of Kalama at which he fell; he was the highest ranking officer to die
in Albania. Colonel Frizi was posthumously awarded the gold star and a monument
was erected in his memory in Chalkis. Also approximately twenty-five streets have been
named after him throughout Greece. 15
Other soldiers included Colonel Joseph Barukh, who served in the cavalry against
the Italians, and Leon Dusatis, who fought in Albania and later served as a major
in the Israel Defense Forces. A large number of Jewish physicians also served in the
war. Colonel Henry Nissim Levy of Ioannina directed the military hospitals. Jean Alaluf,
a well-known local physician, served in the military hospital in Salonica during the war.
The inability of the Italians to defeat Greece and occupy it forced Hitler to alter
the date of his Russian invasion in order to secure the now sensitive Balkan flank.
Though it took him only several weeks to overrun Yugoslavia and Greece and most
of May to plan and execute the parachute invasion of Crete, possibly one of the most
remarkable military exploits of World War II, it was not before 22 June 1941 that Oper-
ation Barbarossa could be launched. The precious time loss incurred by that one month's
delay may .well have decided the fate of the Eastern Front. As at Thermopylai, the
blood of Greek soldiers and their British allies bought time which proved crucial to
the ultimate victory. 16
Even so, Greece was officially defeated and occupied by Axis powers, Bulgaria
being awarded eastern Thrace and that part of Macedonia which was taken from Yu-
goslavia; the Germans appropriated Greek Macedonia and western Thrace for them-
selves and later conquered Crete, while the Italians received Larissa and the remainder
of Greece including Athens and the Peloponnesos. From the period when the Resis-
tance was established at the end of 1942 through the first five months of 1943, nearly
all of the Jewish population living in the Bulgarian-occupied zones of Macdeonia and
Thrace, and the majority of the Jewish population of the German-occupied zones of
Macedonia and Thrace were sent to the extermination camps, primarily Auschwitz.
For this reason, there were few Jewish recruits available in the north to join the Resis-
tance. Nevertheless, a report of 7 July 1943 estimates (or possibly overestimates) the
number of Jews in the guerrilla forces as 9,000. Clearly this figure also includes those
in hiding under the protection of ELAS (Ethnikos Laikos Apeleftherotikos Stratos). 17
The Italian-occupied south, however, proved to be a haven for Jews fleeing from the
north. General Carlo Geloso, head of Italian-occupied Greece, refused to put into ef-
fect any anti-Jewish measures on the pretext that no precise directive had been issued
him by his government. 18 Thus it was made possible for larger numbers of Jews to
participate in the Resistance in that area.
The Bulgarian contribution to the extermination of the Jews in Greece was the
most efficient. 19 In fact, it was nearly total, as can be seen from a comparison of prewar
and postwar population figures for those areas under their control (see Thble). From
Yugoslavian Macedonia over 7,300 Jews were collected. After the war only 196 returned
to their homes; the remainder either died in Poland or were drowned en route in the
Danube. From Greek Thrace the percentage is nearly the same: of some 4,200 arrested,


1904 1928 1940 1943 1943- 1945 1947 1948 1955 1959 1967 1973
Didymotikon 906 1,000 1,000 900 33 33 38 40 40 21 14
Nea Orestias 200 197 197 3 3
Alexandroupolis 200 200 165 140 44 (42) 4 4
Komotini 1,200 900 850 819 904 (878) 28 28 22 10
Xanthe 600 600 550 537 (526) 6 6 4
Soufli 25 40
Samothrace 3 (3)
Thasos 16 (16)
Kavalla 2,000 2,200 2,200 2,100 1,657 (1,484) 42 42 43 50 47 47 16
Drama 380 1,500 1,200 1,200 592 (589) 39 39 39 17 4
Serres 2,000 750 600 600 471 (471) 3 3
Thessaloniki 75,000 62,500 56,500 56,000 1,950 1,950 1,950 1,350 1,279 1,122 ca. 1,200
Verroia 500 850 460 131 131 112 40 38 24 3 fam.
Kastoria 1,600 1,000 900 900 35 35 38 32 27 2
Flornia 500 400 400 64 64 64 30 7
Langadas 50
Katerini 80 50 35 2 fam.
Naussa 50 10 ....
Trikkala 1,000 600 520 520 360 360 356 150 123 101 33 fam. ~
Larissa 2,500 2,100 1,175 1,120 726 726 621 500 482 441 400
Volos 1,100 1,000 882 872 645 645 558 350 230 210 70-80 ~
Karditsa 150 100 51 30 30 >
Chalkis 200 400 350 325 170 170 181 150 108 91 101
Athens 300 3,200 3,500 3,000 (over 10,(00) 4,930 4,930 4,000 3,000 2,718 2,802 3,500 (1) ~
Patras-Agrinion 300 337 265 145 152 153 40 37 19 16 I;ij
(All 40 Jews of Agrinion survived) S·
Ioannina 4,000 2,000 1,950 1,850 163 163 150 105 100 92 100 ~
Preveza 200 250 250 250 15 15 11 2
Arta 300 400 384 384 60 60 54 50 20 !II
Kerkyra (Corfu) 3,500 2,000 2,000 2,000 187 185 125 102 100 92 70 i
Zakynthos (Zante) 175 300 275 275 275 275 69 8 1 ~
Rhodes 4,000 32 30
Kos 103 } 2,200 } 1,900 } 200 } 200 }60 }49
Mytilene 100
Chios 350
Candia (Iraklion) 52
Chanea 525 400 350 350 7 7 6
Lassithi 38
Rethymnon 31
TOTAL (approx.)
110,000 83,000 79,950 77,377 10,226 10,371 8,650 5,909 5,475 5,124 5,000
1904 Estimated population figures in The Jewish Encyclopedia (New York, 1925), VI, 84, and XII, 387-88.
1928 I. Kabelli, "Israelitikos" in Neoteron Enkuklopardikon Lexikon, s.v. "Helios," p. 1,038.
1945 Official lists of the Central Jewish Committees published in I. A. Matarasso, " ... !G' omos holoi tous den pethanan ... ," pp. 56-57 (see Note 24 below).
1943' 44 (42) indicates 44 Jews in 1943; 42 of whom were deported. For the (over 10,(00) in Athens, see Note 18 below.
Official figures of Bulgarian deportations published in Chary, The Bulgarian Jews and the Final Solution (Note 19 below), p. 105.
1947 Figures published by Molho and Nehama, The Destruction of Greek Jewry (Hebrew), pp. 223-24 (see Note 9 below).
1955 Maurice J. Goldbloom, "Greece," American Jewish Year Book, 57 (1956),363.
''The Number of the Jews in Greece" (Hebrew), Bitjuzoth ha-Golah, 11, nos. 48/49 (1969), 140.
Author's observation and estimates supplied by local communities.

only 216 survived. This action by a non-combatant member of the Axis is hard to fathom
in the face of the strange fact that Bulgarian Jewry, far from being exterminated, actu-
ally increased during the war. 20
To the Germans fell the great Jewish population of Salonica, a declining and
demoralized community, it is true, but still possessing some pride in its once glorious
heritage as the center of Sephardic civilization. During the brief but crucial period
when Chief Rabbi Zvi Koretz was both duped and pressured by the Germans into be-
coming the leader of the community, the Jews were organized and deported. 21 Though
the Germans had occupied Salonica in April 1941, it was not before July 1942 that
the Rosenberg Commission headed by Dieter Wisliceny arrived and initiated the anti-
Jewish program. 22 In rapid succession the community was isolated, demoralized, im-
poverished, and finally liquidated. On 10 July, all able-bodied Jews were ordered to
assemble in the Plateia Eleutheria. Some nine thousand appeared. After a humiliating
day in the hot sun, they were marked for forced labor for the Germany army. The
community leaders attempted to buy their release and agreed to a payment of two
billion drachmas in cash and their rights to the graveyard. On 6 December, the munici-
pality of Thessaloniki began to destroy the graveyard which in the interim had been
transferred to it by the Germans. The two billion drachmas were raised from the fast-
disappearing wealth of the community with assistance from other Salonican Jews living
in Athens. On 6 February 1943, the Germans began to implement the Nuremberg Laws
against the Jews. Within a few weeks the following decrees became effective: every
Jew over fifteen years of age had to wear a yellow Star of David; Jews were forbidden
to use public transportation or to be on the main streets after dark; telephone service
was forbidden except for communal officials or doctors; signs were to be placed iden-
tifying Jewish shops and homes or apartments; permission to change their domicile
had to be obtained from the Germans; Jews had to submit a complete list of property
and financial resources; and Jews had to live within special areas. 23
Three ghettos were established, the last called Baron Hirsch located alongside the
railroad station in Salonica. That name provides something of an ironic touch, since
Baron Hirsch was noted as a philanthropist who had supported Jewish colonization.
The Jews of Salonica, too, were supposedly being relocated to the empty fields of Po-
land, ostensibly to be engaged in agriculture. Their only connection with agriculture,
however, was to be fertilizer, for that is how the efficient Nazis disposed of the ash
remains of their burnt corpses. Of the 48,000 Saloniki Jews sent to Auschwitz, 45,000
were gassed there; about 1,000 went to Warsaw to salvage valuables from the destroyed
Ghetto for the Germans, while about 500 were transported to other camps. Another
15,000 Jews from other parts of Greece also died at Auschwitz. Thus the percentage
of Greek Jews killed by the Nazis, nearly 90 per cent, ranks second to that of Polish
Jewry. The historical consequences are equally as devastating. 24
Nearly the whole of Greek Jewry passed through Auschwitz. Its fate at the camp,
however, is more than a set of statistics in a list of mass exterminations. One record,
recently revealed, relates how 435 "young and healthy" Jews from SaIonica were selected
to work in the crematoria as Sonderkommandos. Their task would be to assist the
victims in the pseudo-showering areas that were actually huge gas chambers. Four hun-
dred of them refused to survive under such circumstances and were themselves gassed
on 22 July 1944. 25
Jews in Wartime Greece 53
What proved to be the only revolt in the history of Auschwitz took place on 7
October 1944. At this time, according to Kabelli, one-third of the Sonderkommando
(135 out of 400) was composed of Greek Jews; the remainder were French and Hun-
garian Jews including a contingent of nineteen Russian Jewish soldiers. 26 Through the
efforts of some Jewish women who worked in the munitions factory, a small quantity
of dynamite and some weapons were smuggled into the crematoria. The plan was for
the doomed Sonderkommando to participate in a general camp revolt. Synchroniza-
tion was poor under the circumstances, however, and their revolt began ahead of
schedule. 1\\'0 of the squads lost courage, but in the third and fourth crematoria the
Greeks were able to overcome the guards and to blow up the furnaces and smokestacks
before they were finally killed. In the rubble of Crematorium III, according to several
sources, the Greek Jews died singing the Greek national anthem. The results of this
unique revolt included the deaths of some twenty guards, the destruction of one cremato-
rium and extensive damage to the second, thereby halving the "production" of the
death factory. From the viewpoint of raising the morale of the prisoners, however,
the results were incalculable.
The above brief description of the revolt represents the consensus of Greek-Jewish
historiography. The major problem is that it contradicts all non-Greek sources of Ausch-
witz. J6sef Garlinski's account of the resistance movement does not mention any Greeks
in the revolt, nor does Reuben Ainsztein's recent detailed study of the revolt itself.
Ber Marks' Scroll ojAuschwitz, too, attempts to provide some correctives to Kabelli's
account. 27 A number of Polish-Jewish memoirs on the revolt were unearthed in Ausch-
witz and have been published along with several memorial books dedicated to specific
destroyed communities. All of these sources emphasize the Polish factor in the revolt.
Moreover, the editor of the Hebrew version of Michael Molho's and Joseph Nehama's
In Memoriam argues that, since Greek Jews spoke only Greek, French, or Ladino (not
necessarily true), they would have been unable to communicate with Roza Robota,
the woman who was responsible for smuggling in much of the dynamite that was used
in the revolt. His argument that she would have interacted only with Yiddish-speaking
Jews, however, proves nothing since the situation in the camp was much more com-
plicated. 28
These contradictory traditions necessitate two separate lines of inquiry. One would
pursue the impact of the respective historiographical traditions of Polish and Greek
Jewry regarding the revolt. The only sources still remaining are memoirs both of par-
ticipants in the revolt and other prisoners. Clearly the various Greek and Polish sources
support their particular biases. A second would undertake an impartial scholarly in-
vestigation of all the extant sources in order to uncover the true story of the revolt
and to identify its leaders. Such a task is beyond the limits of this article. It will suffice
here to note that in the revolt at Auschwitz a number of Greek Jews participated, al-
though it is unclear what part of the leadership they constituted. The main sources
for the role played by Greek Jews include Albert Menasche's and Isaac Cohen's con-
temporary memoirs and Isaac Kabelli's various reconstructions. It should also be noted
that a number of discrepancies mar the accuracy of these accounts. Molho's and Ne-
hama's In Memoriam and the two Salonica memorial books represent an important
contribution to Greek Jewry's perception of its role during the Holocaust period. 29
The issue of Jewish participation in the Resistance is also complicated. First it

should be emphasized that, with but a few exceptions, to be a Jew in the Bulgarian
or German zones was an almost automatic death sentence. It is with this in mind that
one must examine two aspects of the role of the Jews in the fight against the Nazis:
as an aspect of their self-defense, on the one hand, and as a contribution to the Allied
effort on the other. Thus, many of the Jews who fled to the mountains hid (as thou-
sands of them did in the villages and cities; a number of postwar marriages testify
to this grass roots protection), were shifted from one guerrilla band to another (ulti-
mately to Thrkey or Palestine), or joined one of the fighting bands, either as conscripts
or as volunteers. These units belonged to both the right and the left, although the latter
were apparently more sympathetic to the plight of the Jews. Owing to their superior
knowledge of Greek and their university training, a number of Jews were also involved
in the public administration set up in the mountains. 30
The problem of dealing with this aspect of the Resistance is that sources are not
accessible. Also many of the Jewish partisans understandably assume false identities.
During various travels in Greece, this author met many Jews who had fled to the moun-
tains; their main rationale was to shoot before being shot. The danger from the Germans
was exacerbated by the internecine ideological atmosphere in the mountains. Clearly,
further research in the archives in Israel and oral interviews in Greece itself and else-
where will be necessary before this question can even begin to be resolved. The work
of Molho and Nehama, for example, claims that Jews could be found in every Resis-
tance band. 31
The following list of Resistance fighters is indicative of several aspects of the Jewish
contribution to the struggle against the Occupation:
Salomon Bouri joined the partisans at age 16 in Macedonia; he was killed in Sep-
tember 1 9 4 4 . '
Eliezer Azaria graduated from the University of Athens with top honors as an
agronomy major, joining the Resistance in 1942. Under the pseudonym, Thipotamite,
he became director of supply for the Resistance Forces in Thessaly, Rumelia, and the
Peloponnesos. He was condemned to death after the liberation.
Avram Haim Frizi, (a relative of the aforementioned Mordecai), was born in
Chalkis in 1924 and joined the Resistance early in the conflict. At the time of his arrest
by the Germans in Salonica on 24 May 1944 - subsequently he was shot - he was secre-
tary general of Company 13.
Elias Sam Nissim died at the Battle of Olympos.
David Cohen of Athens and David Rousso of Previza were known in Rumelia
as the two Davicos, the former dying at the battle of Agia Thiada on 6 January 1944,
together with a number of other Jews.
Mimi Cabelis, president of the Communal Assembly of Thikkala, was active in
the Resistance in Thessaly.
In April 1944, Benjamin Negrin was killed by the Germans at Mousaki where
he commanded a detachment under the pseudonym, Gaies.
On 2 July 1944, Johanan Hagdie of Arta died fighting at Amphissa where he
commanded a detachment under the pseudonym, Skoufas.
Under the pseudonym of Hippocrates, Robert Mitranes, a medical student, orga-
nized one of the first medical corps of the Resistance; he died of wounds on S July 1944.
Jews in Wartime Greece 55
Jacob Costis was part of a clandestine group that bombed German ships in Piraeus.
Jenny Minervos died in the Resistance in Crete in 1944.
A partial record of 91 Jewish partisans who died had been collected by Joseph
Benn. Of these, 85 fell in Greece and 6 in Auschwitz. 31 The list can be expanded.
Perhaps the most famous exploit ofthe Resistance was the destruction of the Gor-
gopotamos Bridge. In their memoirs, both the right and the left claim credit for this
feat, which, of course, could not have been accomplished without the leadership and
assistance of their British advisors. A footnote to the episode is the question of Jewish
participation. Kabelli claims that more than forty Jews "were cited for courage and
bravery" by Zervas himself for their part in the successful raid that destroyed the bridge.
On the other hand, it is known that EOES (Ethnikos Oimokratikos Ellinikos Syn-
thesmos) supplied approximately 50-60 men for the operation, while ELAS's contri-
bution was 90-100; British accounts, however, emphasize the role played by EOES owing
to its superior training, bravery, and skills. Although the high percentage of Jews may
seem incongruous, Molho and Nehama accept that forty Jewish partisans assisted in
the raid, while Asher Moisses cites the testimony of historians of the Resistance who
give credit to the active participation of the Jews. As yet, however, no direct evidence
from Jewish sources, has been found, while the Greek sources cited are unavailable
at the time of this writing. The question must therefore remain moot until further
research is possible. 33
In addition to anonymous Jewish participation in various fighting bands, a number
of specifically Jewish groups were known to have been active in the Resistance. In Thes-
saly, it is claimed, the octogenarian chief rabbi of Volos, Moshe Pesach, formed a Jewish
unit (consisting of Jews from Volos, Larissa, and 1i'ikkala) which aided British com-
mando units in their harassment of German forces in that area. The claim, however,
is unsubstantiated in regard to Rabbi Pesach's involvement. Although the rabbi was
later awarded the Gold Medal of George I for his actions, it is more likely, in historical
perspective, that he was honored more for the sheer feat of having survived in the moun-
tains and for the propaganda value of his having done so, than for his military accom-
As important as their participation in the fighting units was the intelligence and
liaison work undertaken by the Jewish Resistance. Owing to their proficiency in lan-
guages, Jews were able to function as interpreters between British and American com-
mandos and the local partisans. His unsuspected knowledge of German allowed Rabbi
Barzilay to discover, and subsequently foil, the gestapo's true plans for the Jews of
Athens. 34 Resistance work in Salonica was led by the journalist, Elie Veissi. His knowl-
edge of German allowed him to gather information - subsequently relayed to Egypt-
from the German officers billeted in his home. A number of other journalists were
prominent in the Resistance: Mentesch Besantzi in Salonica, Barukh Shibi in Athens,
and the legendary Sam Modiano, who is presently preparing his very important memoirs.
Lawyers, too, were active, as, for example, Yom Tov Yacoel, Isaac Sciaky, Abraham
Levy, Shem Tov Alaluf, Eliahu Levy, and Simon Cohen. Thus the Jewish component
of the Resistance consisted of demobilized fighting men and students while the intel-
ligensia contributed both doctors, journalists and lawyers. 35
Though this article cannot examine other aspects of the Greek Jewish participa-

tion, several should be noted for subsequent research: the fortunes of those Greek Jews
who fought in Poland in the revolt of General Komorovski, which broke out in August
1944; and those Jews who fought with the Greek naval forces or in North Africa and
Italy.36 Of greater interest would be to record the attempts of Greek Jews in Palestine
to help their brethren; on this subject there is a large quantity of documentation in
various Zionist archives to explore. This essay also cannot explore the fate of the Greek
Jews who fought in the British army, either as volunteers or as part of the Jewish Bri-
gade. For example, of the 10,000 British prisoners at Corinth, over 1,500 are known
to have been Palestinian JewS. 37
Another important consideration is the attitude of the Greek Christians toward
the plight of the Jews both during and after the war. A leading role was played by
Archbishop Damaskinos, who led a number of protests by Greek professionals against
the puppet Greek government and the Nazis themselves. The archbishop publicly called
upon the Greek people to open their homes to their Jewish compatriots and he, him-
self, was personally responsible for hiding 250 Jewish children in Christian homes.
Deserving equal honor are the thousands of nameless Greeks who opened their homes
to hunted Jews and shared their limited rations with them. Three-quarters ofthe Jews
of Chalkis hid in the villages of Euboea. Eighteen hundred Jews of Thessaly came
out of hiding after the war. The few who survived in Thrace can thank the local popu-
lation. Jews have made known their appreciation to their fellow-citizens in a number
of ways.38
In Israel there is a mountain in the Jerusalem hills dedicated to the Martyrs of
the Holocaust. On its summit is a museum of steel and stone overpowering in its mute
testimony to the destruction of nearly six million Jews. Here is located the Yad Vashem
Archives where scholars can study the phenomenon of an advanced technological so-
ciety gone mad. Outside, surrounding all the buildings, is a new forest, a living memorial
to those who assisted in the alleviation of this slaughter. Originally the trees were planted
along the Avenue of the Righteous Gentiles which leads to the museum, but today
the forest covers much of the mountain's crest as accounts of an increasing number
of heroes and heroines come to light. These are the people who said "OXI" to Hitler
and translated their compassion for the victims into actions of rescue. To date at least
eight trees have been planted in honor of Greek Christians: 39
Kleopatra Mino Archbishop Damaskinos
Father Irenee Typaldos Metropolitan Genadios
Sister Helene St. Capart Michael Glykas
Angelos Evert Demetrios Vranopoulos
The partisans, too, especially ELAS, actively aided the Jews either by welcoming
those who, like the contingent of 450 Salonican youth, came to fight, or by assisting
others to escape to Palestine via Turkey. (Joseph Matsas, one of that group, informed
this author that the number was 252, not 450.) The latter are estimated to have num-
bered approximately 3,000. In addition to giving public expression of their gratitude
to the partisans, Rabbi Pesach and Rabbi Barzilay also appealed to World Jewry to
supply the Greek Resistance with equipment and aid. It was in response to these re-
quests that various Jewish organizations managed to smuggle money and supplies into
Jews in Wartime Greece S7
the mountains, mainly through contacts in Istanbul. In sum, the number of Jews saved
through the efforts of the Greek population and the Orthodox Church is estimated
at over 10,000.
The Jews of Salonica, on the other hand, were not so hospitably treated by their
Christian compatriots, especially during the period of the deportations. Noted above
were the interwar tensions between the Anatolian or "new" Greeks and the Spanish-
speaking Jews; the war did little to lessen this hostility, rather serving to exacerbate
the nationalistic feeling inherent in the situation. The Ge11llaD$, moreover, played upon
the greed of the local population in order to increase the iSOlation of the Jewish com-
munity. Jewish homes were given to collaborators; Jewish property was confiscated
and distributed; the famous and extensive graveyard (SO hectares and over half a mil-
lion graves) was destroyed, its marble and stone monuments recycled for municipal
repairs and private profit, while the land became the site for the University of Thes-
saloniki. The broken gravestones still visible to a person wno visits that campus bear
mute testimony of the area's tragic past to the present day.4O While it must be noted
that many individuals did protest, especially the Bishop of Thessaloniki and a number
of priests from German-occupied Greece who were arrested for refusing to preach ra-
cism,41 nevertheless the weight of Nazi policy served only to intensify the deep-seated
antagonism of the local population toward the Jewish community. This resulted first
in a cultural destruction of their literary and religious heritage, and then in physical
annihilation. 42
The acid test came after the war when the survivors of the worst chapter in Greek
Jewry's millennia-long history returned to their former homes. By 1946 of the 9,000
Jews to be found in Greece, two-thirds were declared totally indigent, and this despite
the fact that the prewar property of the Jews in Greece was valued in excess of
$25,000,000. The problem of this "heirless" property still has not been totally resolved.
Legally the Greek government recognized the right of the Jewish community to the
property based on Law no. 846 promulgated on 22 January 1946. No successor govern-
ment, however, has implemented this law to date. Although some resolution of the
problem appears imminent, the property remains in limbo at the present time. 43
The unstable situation in Greece, including the destitute position of the survivors
and the harassment of former ELAS partisans and of those who took refuge with
them, induced many Jews to emigrate to the United States or illegally to Palestine.
In 1948, with the establishment of the State of Israel, a number of Greek survivors
and Zionists went to join their families and aid in the defense of the new state. A larger
number of Jews remained in Greece, however, professionals-doctors, lawyers, and
merchants - who, as Greek citizens, continue to maintain the 2,500 year-old traditions
of a Hellenic Jewry.


* This is a revised version of a paper delivered at the 1978 Modem Greek Studies Association Sympo-
sium. The author is pleased to express his gratitude to the Memorial Foundation for Jewish Culture for
its continued support of his research in the history of the Jews in Greece.
A bibliographic supplement to the following notes can be found in John o. Iatrides, ed., Greece
in the 1940s: A Bibliographic Companion (Hanover and London, 1981), which includes, "Greece under

the Axis Occupation," by Hagen Fleischer and "Jews in Wartime Greece," a preliminary bibliography (and
companion piece to the article here) by Steven Bowman. An important survey was recently offered by Daniel
Carpi, "Notes on the History of the Jews in Greece during the Holocaust Period. The Attitude of the Italians
(1941-1943)," in Festschrift in Honor 0/Dr. George s. Wife (leI Aviv, 1981), pp. 15-62, with full documentation
and new sources in the Italian version, "Nuovi documenti per la storia deIl'Olocausto in Grecia - L'atteggimento
degli italiani (1941-1943)," in MicluJel (on the History of the Jews in the Diaspora), edited by Zvi Ankori
and Shlomo Simonsohn (leI Aviv, 1981), VII, 119-200.
1. Cf. the proceedings of The Greek Orthodox-Jewish Consultation published jointly in The Greek
Orthodox Theological Review, 22 (Spring, 1977), and The Journal 0/Ecumenical Studies, 13 (Fall, 1976);
and the essays by Asher Moisses in his Helleno-Ioudai/cai Meletai [Greek-Jewish Studies] (Athens, 1956).
2. On the Hellenistic Jewish communities of Greece, cf. Philo Judaeus, Legatio ad Gaium and the
Acts 0/ the Apostles for the main centers, and Salo W. Baron, The Jewish Community (philadelphia, 1948),
I, for historical commentary. The latter lists may be supplemented through recent epigraphic discoveries
cited in S. Bowman, 1bwards a Bibliography 0/Greek Jewry (Athens, 1973); cf. also Encyclopedia Judaica
(Jerusalem, 1972), s. v., "Greece." On the Jews ofthe Byzantine period, cf. this author's "Another Medieval
Heritage: the Jews of Byzantium," in Forum, 36 (1979), 131-41, and bibliographical postscript.
3. For late Byzantine Greece, cf. previous note to which may be added Joshua Starr, Romania, The
Jewries 0/ the Levant After the Fourth Crusade (paris, 1949); Joseph Nehama, Histoire des Israelites de
Salonique, 7 vols. (paris, 1935-1978), here: I (1935); the updated Hebrew version in Zikharon Saloniki (Tel
Aviv, 1973), by Isaac S. Emmanuel of his earlier Histoire des Israelites de Salonique (Salonica, 1936); Solomon
Rosanes' outdated but still useful Divre Y'me Yishrael bi-1bgarmah [History of the Jews in Thrker] (Tel
Aviv, 1930), I; and most recently S. W. Baron, A Social and Religious History o/the Jews (New York, 1980),
XVII, with extensive bibliography. A forthcoming monograph of the Jews of Byzantium from 1204-1453
by this author will include an edition and commentary to all of the relevant source material available.
4. The names Salonica, Salonika (Webster's 1st spelling), Saloniki, and Thessalonica will be used
interchangeably in this paper as a reflection of local traditions.
5. Nehama, Histoire; P. Risal (pseud. for J. Nehama), La ville convoitee. Salonique (paris, 1918);
Isaac S. Emmanuel. Histoire des Israelites, I; and Apostolos Vacalopoulos, A History 0/ Thessaloniki (Thes-
saloniki, 1963).
6. Cf. Moyse Konstantine, He Symbole ton Hebraion eis ton Apeleutheritikon Agona ton Hellenon
[The Contribution of the Jews to the Greek War of Independence] (Athens, 1971). Sources cited in Steven
Bowman, "The Jewish Settlement in Sparta and Mistra," Byzantinisch-neugriechische Jahrbiicher, 22 (1979),
131-46; all of the extant epitaphs of that community through the end of the eighteenth century were edited
by Daniel Spiegel and S. Bowman, "Hebrew Epitaphs of Mistra," Michael, 7 (1981), 201-47.
7. According to an article in the Greek magazine Gynaika [Woman] (ca. 1971). The exact reference
unfortunately is not available to me.
8. Cf. pamphlet dated 20 October 1863 of a resolution in a synagogue in Galata, Constantinople
on the reunion of the Ionian Islands with Greece. Pamphlet is located in the Gennadeion Library in Athens,
9. Michael Molho and Joseph Nehama, The Destruction o/Greek Jewry, 1941-1945 (Jerusalem, 1965),
p. 19 (translated from the Hebrew). A more detailed description is available in Nehama's recent, posthu-
mously edited, Histoire (Thessaloniki, 1978), VI and VII (see Note 3 above).
10. Ibid. vol. VII, 769 f. citing Law no. 1394 passed on 3 May 1918; cf. Emmanuel's history of Saloniki
in Zikharon Saloniki (Thl Aviv, 1972), p. 209, with Spaniolith summary p. 28; also Michael Molho's "His-
tory of the Jews in Salonika" (Hebrew), in Saloniki, Ir Ve-Em bi-Yisrael (leI Aviv, 1969), pp. 23 f. The
latter claims that a number of Athenians made a fortune buying up the property from the government.
11. On the interwar period, see Molho, ibid.; also see "Greece" in The Universal Jewish Encyclopedia
(New York, 1941), V, 91-93; and Henri Molho, "Le judaisme grec en general et la communaute juive de
Salonique en particulier entre les deux guerres mondiales," Homenage Millds-Vallierosa (Barcelona, 1956),
II, 73-107.
12. Cf. Molho and Nehama, Destruction 0/Greek Jewry, chap. 1; Joshua Starr, "The Socialist Federa-
tion of Saloniki," Jewish Social Studies, 7 (1945), 323-36; and I. S. Emmanuel's survey of the cloth industry
appended to his Histoire des Israelites (1936).
Jews in Wartime Greece 59
13. For newspapers in Judeo-SpaDish or SpanioIith, see David Gaon, Ha-1tonot be-1.tJdino: Bibliographia
[A Bibliography of the Judeo-Spanish <Ladino> Press] (Jerusalem, 1965), who includes occasional bi-
ographical material on the publishers. An earlier list of Balkan-Jewish newspapers is in The Jewish Ency-
cloJJQedill (New York, 1925), s. v., "Thrkey." An important interview with Sam Modiano is deposited in
the Oral History Division of the Institute for Contemporary Jewry at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem
(in English). Cf. also Michael Molha, "The Spaniolith Newspapers in Saloniki" (Hebrew), in Soloniki, Ir
Ve-Em bi-Yisrael, pp. 103-108.
14. Cf. Isaac Kabelli, "The Resistance of the Greek Jews," YIVO, 18 (19S3), 311; and Asher Moisses,
"Jews in the Army of Greece" (Hebrew), in Ha-Lohhem ha-Yehudi be-Sevabt ho-'Olom [The Jewish Fighter
in the Armies of the World] ('leI Aviv, 1967), pp. 182-8S.
IS. Recorded by the Jewish community of Salonica and available in the works of Molho and Nehama,
Destruction ofGreek Jewry; Kabelli, "Resistance," and Zikharon Saloniki, ed. David Recanati. Joseph Matsas
suggests slightly lower figures: 3 officers and 268 soldiers dead; 138 amputees among thousands wounded.
16. Cf. David Thomas, Nazi Victory: Crete 1941 (New York, 1972).
17. Cf. Contemporary Jewish Record: Review of Events and Digest of Opinion (New York, 1942), V,
S13, citing the New York Jewish newspaper Morning Journal of 1 July 1942. Michael Matsas suggests a
total of 7,000 Jews in hiding, of whom 6S0 became partisans.
18. This was the standard tactic employed by Italian authorities in the face of German pressures; cf.
Daniel Carpi, "The Rescue of Jews in the Italian Zone of Occupied Croatia," in Rescue Attempts During
the Holocaust (Jerusalem, 1977), pp. 46S-S07, and documents appended there, pp. S08-2S; see Introduc-
tion to the Notes above and additional bibliography cited there; and the earlier piece by Jacques Sahille,
"Attitudes des Italians a 1'6gard des Juifs en ~ occupCe," Le Monde Jui/, 49 (Paris, 19S1), 7-10. Yad
Vashem Archives, flle 03/2490 contains the testimony of Samuel Negrin whose father worked for the Athens
Jewish community and therefore had access to official statistics. He reports that refugees swelled the Jewish.
population of Athens to 10,000; moreover, in 1943, after the Germans had occupied Athens, still nearly
S,OOO Jews came to the synagogue for their rations.
19. Cf. Benjamin Arditi, Yehudei Bulgariah bishnot ha-Mishpat ha-Nar.i: 1940-1944 [The Jews of Bul-
garia during the Years of the Nazi Occupation: 1940-1944] (1CI Aviv, 1962); Frederick B. Chary, The Bul-
garian Jews and the Final Solution 1940-1944 (pittsburgh, Pa., 1972); Haim Kechales, Koroth Yehudei Bul-
garia [History of ~ulgarian Jewry] (1Cl Aviv, 1969), III; Alexander Matkovsky, "The Destruction of
Macedonian Jewry," Yad Vashem, 3 (19S9), 222-S8; Miriam Novitch, "End of Macedonia and Thrace Jewish
Communities," 0zIu Yehudei Sepharad, 4 (1961) liv-lvi; Charles W. Steckel, Destruction and Survival (Los
Angeles, Ca., 1973).
20. The question of the attitude of the Axis allies toward their Jewish populations, both internal and
conquered (each suffered a different fate), prior to the collapse of these regimes and occupation by German
forces. necessitates a special study. For figures, see the study by Chary, Bulgarilln Jews, cited in the previous
21. The questions surrounding the role of the chief rabbi are as complicated as they are unclear. There
is a consensus among the surviving Jews of Salonica that he was guilty of assisting the Germans if he was
not actually a collaborator. In addition to the memoirs investigated, the classic statement of this view is
by Molho and Nehama, Destruction of Greek Jewry, passim. This position was challenged by Nathan Bek,
"New Light on the Charges against the Last Grand Rabbi of Salonica," Yad Vashem Bulletin, 17 (1965),
9-15; and 19 (1966), 28-3S. An even stronger case against Rabbi Koretz was made by David Recanati in
his supplement to Emmanuel's survey of Salonica in Zikhoron Saloniki, pp. 261-64. Joseph Benn (cited
in Note 24 below) reexamined most of the sources against the background of the more general problem
of the Judenrat in Nazi-occupied Europe; he suggests that the charge against the rabbi be reduced from
complicity to nai~ On the problem of the Judenrat in general, cf. Isaiah 1hJnk, Judenrat. The Jewish
Councils in EIlstem Europe under Nazi Occupation (New York, 1973). Also see the sources collected by
Michael Matsas and mentioned in my bibliography "Jews in Wartime Greece," cited in the Introduction
to the Notes, above.
22. Still during that terrible winter of 1941-42 some eighty Jews died each day-according to Jewish
reports-3,2S0 Jews in Athens and Salonica. By comparison some 24,000 Greeks were reported to have
died from famine in the Italian zone alone; cf. Emmanuel, Zikharon Saloniki, p. 237.

23. !bid., p. 241; Molho and Nehama, Destruction o/Greek Jewry, pp. 61 ff; followins p. 64 the original
German orders are reproduced. Cf. also Raul Hilberg, The Destruction 0/ Europeon Jews (Chicago, Ill.,
1961), pp. 448 ff.
24. This facet of the Holocaust has not been sufficiently studied by students of the period; cf. general
surveys by Hilberg, ibid., pp. 447-52, and Gerald Reitlinger, The Finol Solution. The Attempt to Exter-
minate the Jews 0/ Europe 1939-1945 (London, 1968), pp. 398-408. The destruction in Greece has been
dealt with from a variety of approaches: cf. Joseph Benn, "Sho'ath Yehudei Yavan, 1941-1944" [The Holo-
caust of the Jews in Greece, 1941-1944] (M. A. Thesis at lei Aviv University, 1977). This is perhaps the
best study to date after Molho and Nehama, Destruction 0/ Greek Jewry. Early studies emphasized the
personal memoir and the search for survivors: cf. I. A. Matarasso, " ... Ki' omos holoi tous den pethanan
..." [And Yet All of Them Did Not Die. The Catastrophe ofthe Greek Jews of Salonica during the German
Occupation] (Athens, 1948). Hizkia Franco, Les Martyrs Jui/s de Rhodes et de Cos (Elizabethville, NY.,
1952); Albert Menasche, Birkenau (Auschwitz II): How 72,()()() Greek Jews Perished (New York, 1947); and
Primo Levi, Survival in Auschwitz (New York, 1961). Several Greek studies include G. Sporiades, "The
Great Persecution. The Extermination of the Greek Jews" (Greek), Ethnos, 17 January and 3 February
1955; Nikephnas Zevgadakis, "The Jews of Crete during the German Occupation" (Greek), in the Cretan
daily, Mesogeios, 4 September 1963; and P. M. Enerpikides, Die Juden-Verfolgungen in Griechenkmd 1941-1944
(Athens, 1969). The latter presents a Greek summary of SS documents on the tragedy. The actual records
of destruction from Auschwitz archives are available in Danuta Czech, "Deportation und Vernichtung der
griechischen Juden im K. L. Auschwitz," He/te von Auschwitz, 2 (1970), 5-37. A Hebrew version of the
latter is in Dapim Ie heker ha-Shoah ve-ha-Mered [Dappim. Studies of the Holocaust and the Jewish Resis-
tance] (Second series, Deit Lohamei Haghetta'ot, 1973). It is only now, a full generation after the destruc-
tion of the center of the Sephardic culture that new religious leaders are being trained and the past systemat-
ically studied by scholars in Israel and elsewhere. Recently The Institute for Research of Saloniki Jewry
was instrumental in establishing with the assistance of the Recanati family, a chair for Salonican and Greek
Jewry at lei Aviv University.
25. Related by Czech, "Deportation," in Dapim, p. 189 (see preceding Note).
26. See Kabelli, "R.esistance," pp. 287 f., but also see the following Note.
27. J6sef Gadfnski, Fighting Auschwitz. The Resistance Movement in the Concentration Camp (Green-
wich, Conn., 1975); Reuben Ainsztein, Jewish Resistance in Nazi-Occupied Eastern Europe (London, 1974).
Ber Mark, Megillat Auschwitz [Schroll of Auschwitz] (leI Aviv, 1978), pp. 129 f. Kabelli claimed that the
resistance was led by Colonel Joseph Barukh and his two lieutenants, Jose Levy and Maurice Aron, with
the assistance of Isaac Barukh, Sam Karasso, and Yom Tov Yacoel. Mark suggests that Barukh and some
of the others were involved in the 1944 revolt in Warsaw led by General Komorovski and that Kabelli mis-
takenly placed them in Auschwitz during the revolt there. This suggestion by Mark emphasized the historio-
graphic problem and the incomplete state of the available sources. Mark's evidence is based upon a Russian
journalist's alleged meeting with Barukh in liberated Warsaw. An unpublished memoir by a surviving member
ofthe Sonderkommando deposited in the Institute for Research of Saloniki Jewry in lei Aviv, on the other
hand, clearly places Barukh at the head of the revolt of the Sonderkommando. According to this memoir
at least eleven of the Greek participants in that revolt are still alive (as of 1979).
28. A number of other memoirs support the knowledge of Polish and German among Greek Jews.
Therefore Nathan Bek's editorial remarks in the Hebrew version of Molho and Nehama, Destruction 0/
Greek Jewry, and his article, "New Light," are not conclusive. See also Molho and Nehama, In Memoriam.
Hommage aux victimes juives des Nazis en Grece (Salonika, 1948; rpt., 1975). Other memoirs are cited
in Note 29 below, as well as Note 10 above.
29. Albert Menasche, Birkenau; see also the Memoir of Isaac Cohen in Yad Vashem Archives, 03/2484.
A number of Greek oral sources are particularly" wary of Kabelli's accuracy.
30. Cf. testimoni~s in Yad Vashem Archives: 03/2688, 03/2989, and 03/2487. A number of examples
are brought by Benn, "Sho'ath Yehudei Yavan" chap. 6. Several are summarized in my bibliography, "Jews
in Wartime Greece," cited in the Introduction to the Notes above.
31. Cf. Michael Matsas, "How the West Helped Destruction of Greek Jewry," The Jewish Week
(Washington, D.C.), 13-19 April 1978, pp. 48 and 70, who relates some of his activities in the Peloponnesos.
Many of the interviews in the Yad Vashem Archives record similar partisan experiences.
Jews in Wartime Greece 61
32. Listed by Lucien Steinberg, "Greek Jews in the Battle against Nazism" (Hebrew) in M. Mushkat,
ed., Lohamim Yehudim ba-Milhamah Neged ha-Nazim [Jews in the Allied Forces in the Fight Against Na-
zism) (Merhavia, 1971), pp. 328 f. More names and a summary of their activities are recorded by Benn,
"Sho'ath Yehudei Yavan," chap. 6.
33. Other Jews cite the Resistance "Order of the Day"; cf. Miriam Novitch, Le passage des barbares
(Nice, 1973), p. 61. None of the Jewish participants has yet recorded his testimony. We may note as a rele-
vant curiosity that the leader of the expedition, Capt. E. C. W. Myers, was a Jew, as was another member
of the British contingent. Kabelli's figure of 40 Jewish participants has been challenged by Joseph Matsas
in Ioannina. Both he and Michael Matsas of Washington can vouch for only 4 Jews with Zervas in 1944.
From their own contemporaneous experience in the Resistance, they know of no Jews with Zervas in November
1942, the time of the attack.
34. This is not to imply that the rabbi was solely responsible for saving the Jews of Athens; the situa-
tion was more complicated than that. According to Rabbi Barzilay's account (published in Guinzach Saloniki
[Archives Saloniciennes), Fasc. A, ed. Barouh (sic!) Ouziel (Tel Aviv, 1961), pp. 90-92), the gestapo sum-
moned him to headquarters and requested that he hand over lists of the Jews in the community. While
there the rabbi overheard two of the Germans discussing the proposed deportation of these Jews; he then
announced that no lists were available since the youth group of the EEE (Ethnic Enosis Ellados) had burned
the synagogue records. Ordered to draw up new lists, the rabbi returned to his home and gave a coded
warning to flee to the mountains. The contributions of other Jews and Christians deserve further research;
see for example: the efforts of Barukh Shibi who was one of the leaders of the Resistance (recorded by
Novitch, Le passage des barbares); other cells that helped Jews to hide or to escape to the mountains or
out of the country; and the efforts of Archbishop Damaskinos (see below). The proliferation of memoirs,
and the larger untapped repository of survivors, necessitate continued investigation into this and other spe-
cific aspects of the wartime experience of the Jews.
35. Cf. Kabelli, "Resistance"; Benn, "Sho'ath Yehudei Yavan" chap. 6; Novitch, in Le passage des bar-
bares, interviewed a number of these individuals; the diary of Yom Tov Yacoel was recently reprinted in
a Hebrew translation in Saloniki, Ir Ve-Em bi-Yisrael, pp. 275-90.
36. Several interviews with Greek survivors, presently stored in the Yad Vashem Archives, deal with
the situation in Poland. One of these records the story of 1,000 Greek Jews who were taken from Auschwitz
to the ruins of the Warsaw Ghetto to salvage valuables for the Germans. Inter alia it records the activities
of several of these Jews during the fighting in August 1944. See above Note 27.
37. A preliminary survey of the Zionist Archives was made by Benn, "Sho'ath Yehudei Yavan"; on
the Jewish POWs, see Yochanan Ya'acovi, "The Road to Captivity. A Short History of the Palestinian Units
which served in the campaigns of Greece and Crete in the Spring of 1941" (M. A. Thesis, Tel Aviv University
1976), in Hebrew with an English summary. See above Note 27.
38. Cf. Elias Barzilay, Report on the Tragedy of the Jews in Greece, June 14, 28, 1944 (New York,
Greek Anierican Council 1945); his memoir in Guinzach Saloniki, pp. 90-92; excerpts in L. S. Stavrianos,
"The Jews of Greece," Journal of Central European Affairs, 8 (October 1948), 266 f; Enerpikides, Juden-
Verfolgungen, chap. 17 and passim, including a chapter on the efforts of Archbishop Damaskinos; Solomon
Izhaki, "Lights and Shadows in the Balkans," Congress Weekly (12 January 1944), 9-10; Hal Lehrman, "Greece:
Unused Cakes of Soap," Commentary, I, no. 7 (1947), 48-52; Asher Moisses, "La situation des commu-
autes juives en Grece," in Les Juijs en Europe (1939-1945) (Paris, 1949), pp. 47-54; Molho and Nehama,
Destruction of Greek Jewry, passim; Jeanne Tsatsos, The Sword's Fierce Edge: A Journal of the Occupa-
tion of Greece, 1941-1944 (Nashville, Tenn., 1969), p. 56. Some Greek wartime memoirs also mention their
activity, e.g., Symmachos (pseudonym), Greece Fights On (London, n.d.), p. 113, notes protests of the Greek
church to deportations; Amyntor (pseudonym), Victors in Chains (New York, 1943[?)), pp. 66-67; Chris
Jecchioris, Beyond Olympos: The Thrilling Story of the "Train-busters" in Nazi-Occupied Greece (London,
1961), p. 40, notes the role of Greek policemen. The latter efforts are independently and appreciatively
recorded by Eli Cohen in his testimony in the Yad Vashem Archives 0312690.
39. Documented files under each name in Yad Vashem Archives.
40. Cf. photographs in I. S. Emmanuel, Mazeboth Saloniki (Precious Stones of the Jews of Salonica]
(Jerusalem, 1968), II; the epitaphs in his two-volume collection must be compared against the posthumously
published collection of Michael Molho, Mazeboth Beth ha-'Almin shel Yehudei Saloniki (Tombstones of

the Jews Semetary (sic!) of Salonica] (Tel Aviv, 1974). A brief report on the graveyard was provided by
J. Nehama, "I.e cimetiere juif de Salonique," Les Cahiers 8efardis, 1 (1947), 134-36; cf. also Molho and
Nehamc, In Memoriam; the testimony of Eli Cohen in Yad Vashem Archives 0312690 is also valuable.
41. Cf. Contemporary Jewish Record, 6 (1943), 293, citing unidentified London sources which claimed
that over 600 priests were arrested in Greece.
42. Molho and Nehama, Destruction of Greek Jewry, record in detail the sack of Jewish libraries,
the burning of Jewish books, the destruction of the graveyard, the extermination of the Jews, and the liqui-
dation of the community. Needless to say, the Christian population cannot be held accountable for the
tragic fate of the Jewish community; this was preordained by Nazi policy. On the other hand, support of
the Jews by their compatriots would have undoubtably saved more lives. The complicated social situation
in Salonica deserves more analysis.
43. First mention of the problem was made by Lehrman, "Greece: Unused Cakes of Soap," p. 49. An
outline of the attitudes of the successive Greek governments is provided by L. S. Stavrianos, "The Jews
of Greece," pp. 267 ff. For a further update, see articles on "Greece" in the American Jewish Year Book,
54 (1953), 294-300; 56 (1959), 359-65; and 61 (1960), 217-22. From a contemporary Jewish perspective,
cf. Molho and Nehama, In Memoriam, and their revised (1965) version in Destruction of Greek Jewry,
pp. 246 ff.