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Confirmed as Drowned: THE STORY OF THE SHIP TANAIS

Jewish Review of Books, Summer 2022

By Mark Glanville*

On December 14, 1906, a cargo steamship built at the Sunderland shipyards in the northeast of England was launched under the name Holywood. She was then purchased by a Greek shipowner in 1935, who renamed her Tanais, after the ancient Greek colony founded by Milesians. On May 26, 1941, during the Battle of Crete, the ship was sunk by the Luftwaffe, only to be raised and repaired by the Germans, who then deployed her as a cargo ship in the Aegean. In early June, the Nazis filled the holds of the ship with about nine hundred prisoners bound for Auschwitz, among them Cretan partisans, Italian prisoners of war, and the entire Jewish community of Crete, which comprised 299 souls, 88 of them children.

On June 9, the Tanais was torpedoed by the British submarine Vivid, killing all but a handful of passengers. This was the end of the Cretan Jewish community, which had thrived on the island for more than two thousand years. (Jews are said to have served as guards at the palace of Knossos, where King Minos had Daedalus build the labyrinth with his son the Minotaur at its center.)


On July 11th, 1942 at Eleftherias Square (Freedom square) in Thessaloniki, a day known as the "Black Sabbath" of the Jews of Thessaloniki, the German occupiers humiliated 9.000 Jews of the town and put the "Final Solution" plan into practice. The “Final Solution” resulted in the deportation and extermination of 45.000 Jews of Thessaloniki.

Elefhterias Square signals the place where the Nazis began to dehumanize people who were born Jews. It was the beginning of the "absolute evil" that led to the Holocaust of 6.000.000 Jews, among them, 60.000 Greek Jews, many of whom, defended their country, fought against the Italian and German invaders and left their last breath in the concentration camps with Greece deeply rooted in their souls.

Exactly eighty years later, we hope that the commitment of the Mayor of Thessaloniki, Mr. Konstantinos Zervas, will be realized and Eleftherias Square will finally take its historical character as a place of Remembrance of the thousands of Jews who were tortured by the Nazis before been deported to the labor camps and then to the extermination camp of Auschwitz-Birkenau.

It is our responsibility to make Eleftherias Square again a place of remembrance, so that citizens and visitors of Thessaloniki see the place where the Jews of the town martyred, remember and be taught how easily a society can follow the path of barbarism when oblivion prevails.

July 11, 2022



During the graduation ceremony for the students of New York College which took place on 6.7.2022, the president of the Central Board of Jewish Communities of Greece (KISE), Mr. David Saltiel, was awarded an honorary doctorate degree from the University of Bolton of Great Britain for his business and social contribution. The doctorate was awarded to Mr. Saltiel by the Chancellor of the University of Bolton, Earl of St Andrews, George Nicholas Philip Windsor. 

Mr. David Saltiel, upon receiving the diploma, addressing the audience stated emphatically: "Don't forget to set your goals and work to achieve them continuously, even with a little effort but on a daily basis. You will see that in the end you will achieve them.

Your studies and your education have been rewarded with success today. Do not forget that you are the generation that has the privilege of knowledge and understanding needed to build a great, civilized and humane future. Don't forget this!'

At the ceremony, the Central Board of Jewish Communities in Greece was represented by the Treasurer, Mr. Daniel Benardout. It was also attended by Ministers, representatives of the military and municipal Authorities, as well as by many people.

Monday, 11 October 2021 08:35

"In modern European Greece, but also in democratic Thessaloniki, there is no room for fascism and Nazism. Those who make the mistake of insisting on these practices should know that history will remind them of what happened," the Vice President of the European Commission, Margaritis Schinas, said on Sunday October 10, 2021, during his visit to the Jewish Museum of Thessaloniki while assuring the Jewish communities of Europe that the European Union will support them in the face of modern threats. Schinas sent a clear message that Thessaloniki is a European metropolis in which there is no room for rhetorical hatred.

Thessaloniki will always remain a European metropolis of extroversion, democracy, peaceful coexistence, and dialogue. "A European metropolis where raiding battalions, rhetoric and symbols of hatred do not fit."
Schinas' visit to Thessaloniki and the Jewish Museum is of particular importance as it took place a few days after the presentation of the EU's first strategy to fight anti-Semitism and preserve Jewish life, which was emphasized by the European Commission Vice-President.

"As Vice President, I want to assure the Jewish communities in Europe that the EU will not leave them unprotected from the many modern threats that are overshadowing their lives today. We will guarantee their safety, we will strengthen their education and culture, we will do everything to preserve the historical memory of the Holocaust, especially now that the last survivors are leaving us without their personal stories," Schinas underlined.

Mr. David Saltiel, the President of the Central Board of Jewish Communities in Greece and of the Jewish Community of Thessaloniki, welcomed and accompanied Mr. Schinas to the tour of the Jewish Museum of Thessaloniki. Mr. Saltiel expressed the appreciation of the world Jewry for the “remarkable work in support of the Jewish Communities in Europe” achieved by the EC Vice President. “It is our duty to promote knowledge and research, educate the young people so that they are immune to neo-Nazi ideologies, because these ideas abolish human rights and the very values of humanism”, said Mr. Saltiel. “We must continue our fight against fascism, racism and antisemitism. This Museum is a pillar of knowledge. The schools that visit it learn about the history of the Holocaust, while educational trips to the Museum of Auschwitz are organized so that the youngsters realize the magnitude of the Holocaust. As years go by and the survivors pass away, the duty to preserve memory and fight antisemitism passes on to us”, Saltiel stressed.


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