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Wednesday, 02 November 2022 14:40
Thessaloniki (native) Holocaust survivor Moshe Aelion, who lived with his family permanently in Israel and until his last breath fought to keep the memory of the Holocaust alive, passed away on November 1st, 2022 at the age of 97. 
“For years I have believed that it is essential that the human consciousness never forgets what happened during the Holocaust. That’s why I decided, like many other survivors, to narrate, as long as I live, what I experienced,” said Moshe Aelion, in an interview he gave years ago to AMNA, who after the atrocity of the camps-hells of the Third Reich, started a new life in Israel.
He returned to Greece for a visit only in 1987, while in the meantime he was particularly reluctant to talk about the Holocaust even in his close family circle. However, when he finally decided to “break” the barrier of silence, he fought daily battles so that the dust of oblivion would not cover the memory. In 2013 he had come to his hometown, Thessaloniki, in order to shout “NEVER AGAIN” together with all those who had taken part in that first memorial march in the city for the victims of the Holocaust. He returned in 2018, once again attending this annual commemoration, with a deep belief that “humanity must know that something like this can happen again anywhere, and therefore must be determined to avoid it with all its might.” the power, by all means.”He always had his daughter Rachel by his side, who announced, this morning, the news of his death, with a post on social media.

Life in Auschwitz
Moshe Aelion was born in Thessaloniki on February 25, 1925. His parents, Eli and Rachel, and he together with his one and a half year younger sister Nina lived in an alley in Thessaloniki, in his grandfather’s house. He was still an immature child when the Germans entered Thessaloniki and fear began to grip his family as they had heard, since the beginning of the war, that the Nazis were mistreating the Jews both in Germany and in the territories they occupied.
In July 1942, when the Germans gathered the Jewish men of Thessaloniki (18-45 years old) in Eleftheria Square, Moshe Aelion was …lucky, since he was half a year away from the 18-year-old threshold. “After 2-3 hours we started to hear that the Germans were beating them, not letting them drink water, giving them ‘exercises'”. We realized that something new is happening. And really, after a few days, they called many of them and took them to forced labor in different parts of Greece”, he said and remembered that from then on and for the next two months, the actions hostile to the Jews followed one another . “They designated five areas in the city where Jews were allowed to live (ghettos), forced us to sew a yellow star on the left side of our clothes, ordered us to mark our houses and shops, forbade Jewish students from going to school , they announced that they would transport the Jews to Poland…”.
On March 15, 1943, the first death train left for the Nazi camps. Moshe Aelion and his family were to make the long journey next month – a journey, every minute of which was always indelibly etched in his memory. “We were locked in the wagons for six days and six nights, until we reached our final destination. The situation in the wagons was very difficult: there were more than 80 people in our wagon. The only light came from two small windows at either end of the carriage. A barrel cut in two served as a toilet, no food was distributed, every 2-3 days the train stopped at some isolated station and they let us get off and fill up with water. Then they would empty the barrel… If someone died, they would leave him out of the wagon and oblige his family to continue the journey. All these were not good omens, but we hoped that they would soon pass.”
The song about the dead sister
The bad things not only did not pass, but what they experienced afterwards is one that the human mind cannot comprehend. When at midnight on the sixth day they reached the terminus they thought they were in Cracow, as they had been told. When they started seeing people “in the striped clothes”, as he described them, and forcibly dividing them into groups, he realized that things were different.
“In our family we were separated, as we were ordered. My uncle and I in a group, my grandfather with the old men and the women together. Only for my sister, who was a year and a half younger than me, we were hesitant. In the end, we told her to go with the other women in the family, without knowing that we condemned her, with our decision, to immediate death”, recounted Moshe Aelion himself. “Our families were killed and burned the night we arrived,” a classmate of his, who had stayed in Birkenau before Auschwitz, where they died, told him two months later.
His father had died in 1941, a few days after the Germans entered Thessaloniki, and Moshe Aelion then lost his beloved mother and sister, the loss of which was to mark the course of his life. Grief ate away at him like a carnivore, until the lamentation became a song – a song in Latino (Spanish Hebrew), entitled “La Djovinika al Lager” (The Girl in the Lager – Camp), about his sister, “that men are beasts, in Lager as if they brought her, they burned her in the flames”.
There, he speaks of a “beautiful girl, beloved daughter/ whom her parents had, wrapped in feathers, clothed in silk, adorned with gold, kept away from evil and thorns.” She describes the difficult journey with the trains of death – “One day, the Germans took her from the nest / With mother and father, they put her in the camp / For six days, nights, they kept them closed / In dark wagons, and isolated”- but also her tragic end: “But like in Birkenau, the lager of death/ They put her in, one or two, her luck changes/ Without understanding, what is happening to her/ She is naked in the bathroom, and they disinfect her/ They shout and they beat, morning and noon/ Her name now, the number in hand’.

He made it out alive from the ‘death march’
And he may have devoted much of his writing to Latinos after the liberation, but in Auschwitz he taught Greek to a Polish prisoner, “a very great person, a monk, who knew and taught ancient Latin and Latin.” In the hospital where he was for an ear operation, he met this Polish man, who asked him to teach him some new Greek. “Here, in the lager?”, Moshe Aelion had asked, but the Pole was thirsty for learning, so for a year and a half the lessons continued, at the end of which he would give him a piece of bread or some other kind of food. He also gave such a piece of bread to his uncle, in his attempt to keep him alive, as he, when he learned that the Nazis had killed his wife and child, fell into depression, but his effort was in vain. In a short time, the then young Moshe was left alone from the whole family…
He managed to get out alive from the “death march” forced upon them by the Nazis, at the end of January 1945, he passed through Mauthausen and Melk to find himself in Ebensee, where the situation was such that “the human mind could not imagine worse” but also from where he was to be released, a little later. He remembered until the end of his life that day when “everyone ran to the tanks and wanted to touch them” and he ran as well as he could… “On the antenna of a tank I see a small flag. One of the crew was of Greek origin. Many Greeks gathered around it and in a moment the Greek anthem was suddenly heard. Although in a very difficult physical condition, we were free!”.
 The “Odines of Death” and the epilogue of his life
These “Odes of Death”, which he felt on his skin, when he passed through the gates of the hell of the Auschwitz camp and what he lived through, he recorded in his book of the same title, within the pages of which he “closed” the most painful part of his life. In his book “Odines of death”, published by “Alexandria” publications, he managed to summarize his life in the camps and after, with the help of a diary that he started keeping 4.5 months after his release.
The epilogue for Moshe Aelion will be written, according to AMPE, tomorrow (Wednesday 2/11), at 14:00, at the Holon cemetery.

Source: Hellas Posts, November 1, 2022

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