Holocaust in Greece

The Greek civilization is one of the oldest in the world. It dates back to over 2000 years ago. For most of that time there has been a thriving Jewish community in Greece; making Greece the longest continuous Jewish presence in Europe. Today there is a very small population of Jews left becuase of the holocaust during WWII. Jews from all over Greece were shipped to concentration camps (primarily Aschwitz-Burcaneu) and Greece lost over 81% of its Jewish population. There are now only 5,000 Jews living in Greece. Although the religion of Greece is Greek Orthodoxy the government and religious leaders have always been religiously tolerent. During the 15th century many Jews came from Spain and other areas that were persecuting them. The "newer" jewish communitites were called Sephardic communities. Greece was occupied by three different countries, Bulgaria, Italy, and Germany, and seperated into three parts. map_of_greek_occupation_WWII.gifThe German occupied section was Greek Macedonia which included Thessaloniki, Piraeus (a large port), and the western half of Crete. The Bulgarians occupied Thrace and Yugoslavian Macedonia. Italy occupied everything else and most of Greece well untill 1943 when Germany over came Italy and then got all of thier territory. Many of the Jewish deportations didn't occur untill the Germans got control over Italys territories but many Jews fled to the Italian territory since they were safe there. During WWII Italy did not use concentration camps and deportation or mass extermination as a weapon causing many Jews to flee into Italian territory in Greece to escape the unknown terrors the Germans had in store for them. In some areas of Greece there were Turkish citizens living any Jewish Turks automatically recieved immunity and were not able to be harmed. Many of these Turkish Jews lived in Rhodes.
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Nazi Flag on Akropolis

Many Greek Othodox families, Religious leaders, and communities hid Jews and did everything they could ot protect them. Archbishop Damaskenos, Archbishop Ioakim, Archbishop Chrysostomos, police in cities, and head
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Archbishop Damaskinos and Police
Rabbis in different cities and towns helped save thousands of Jews from all over Greece by issuing false baptismal and identification papers to portect Jews and help them flee into safe territory. Also small towns in the mountains and on smaller islands would hide all Jewish families and anytime Nazi or police would come calling no one would say a word of where they were hiding. Many Greek Orthodox christians never saw a problem with being Jewish. Greece had always been religiously tolerant and the Greek population saw the benefits to the community that the Jews brought. Unlike many Protostant and Catholic leaders in Europe the Greek Othodoxleaders took anactive role in standing against Hitler and tried to save lives. They believed that it doesnt matter what religion you are in the bible it says to protect everyone so they protected everyone. When I asked a Jewish womam living in Berkely if excepting the false papers that stated she was baptised and Christian was going against her faith she says that if something like the holocaust is occuring again it is not denouncing their faith getting flase baptismal papers because the biggest Mitzvah in Jewish law is saving a life so evryone was probably very grateful for the Greek Orthodox officials issuing those papers. I would definetly have gotten those papers if I was living in Greece during WWII. The real heros of WWII were the secret underground lines trying to protect Jews and the brave religious leaders and civil servants that risked thier lives fighting Hitlers regime.


Region
Jewish population before WWII
Jewish population after WWII
Corfu
2,000
80
Thessaloniki
46,091+
1,200
Athens
3,500 later 4,940
3,000
Ioannia
1,860
35
Kastoria
900
1 family
Volos
882
100
Rhodes
2,000
35
Zakynthos
275
275 (possibly)