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THE HOLOCAUST OF THE JEWS OF GREECE Print E-mail
Friday, 26 June 2009 11:07
 
THE HOLOCAUST OF THE JEWS OF GREECE
 
In October 1940 the Italian army (of the Axis powers) attacked Greece. During the winter of 1940 – ’41 the Greek army successfully pushed back the Italians after a series of heroic battles on the northwest Greek – Albanian border. 12.898 Greek Jews fought in the Greek-Italian war.
 
In April 1941 the German forces invaded and occupied Greece. There followed four years of barbarism and plundering, leading to the devastation of the country, years of famine, and the annihilation of the Greek Jewry in the Nazi concentration camps.
 
During the Nazi occupation of Greece, the 86% of the Jewish population perished owing to enemy actions, extermination and execution and in the 27 Greek cities where prosperous Jewish communities existed before the War, there remained only a few individuals. Out of 77.000 Greek Jews only 10.000 survived the Holocaust.
 
The list of horror is very long, starting with 56.000 Jews in Thessaloniki of whom only 1.950 survived, in Serres out of 600 only three survived, in Xanthi six out of 550, in Ioannina 163 out of 1.850, in Kastoria 35 out of 900, in Didymotichon 33 out of 900, in Nea Orestiada three out of 197, in Alexandroupolis four out of 140, in Komotini 28 out of 819, in Kavala 42 out of 2.100, in Drama 39 out of 1.200, in Veria 131 out of 460, in Florina 64 out of 400, in Trikala 360 out of 520, in Larissa 726 out of 1.120, in Volos 645 out of 872, in Chalkis 170 out of 325, in Patras & Agrinion 152 out of 265, in Prevesa 15 out of 250, in Arta 60 out of 384, in Corfu 187 out of 2.000, in Zante 275 out of 275, in Chania 77 out of 350, in Rhodes and Kos 200 out of 1.900. In Athens the pre-War Jewish population numbered about 3.000. The losses of the Jewish community were about 1.000 persons. After the War, due to the settlement in the capital of members of other communities, the Jewish population increased to 4.930 persons.
 
Few countries in Europe lost a higher proportion of their Jewish population in the Holocaust than Greece. Nevertheless, during the years of the persecution the Christian population extended a helping hand to their Jewish fellow-citizens. Many Jews were sheltered and others were assisted to escape capture and join the partisans fighting in the Greek mountains. Special mention should be made to the positive role of the Greek Orthodox Church, as well as to the case of the island of Zante, where the whole Jewish population escaped deportation thanks to the heroic intervention of the local Metropolitan Bishop and the Mayor.
 
 
In October 1944 the Germans retreated from Greece. In June 1945 the Central Board of Jewish Communities in Greece, the representative and coordination body of the Jews of Greece, was established by Law.
 
The end of World War II left a mere 10.500 Jews in Greece, most of them survivors of the death camps. The population further declined through emigration mainly to Israel and the USA.
 
Today, about 5.000 Jews live in Greece, in eight cities where organized Jewish communities function: in Athens, Thessaloniki, Larissa, Volos, Chalkis, Trikala, Ioannina, Corfu. 
 

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