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The first deportation of Jews took place in the territories controlled by Bulgaria

27 October 2014 / 22:10:06  GRReporter
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This apparent legitimacy continued during the government of George Papandreou, which passed a law on the management and the return of property to its owners, but its implementation was quite problematical. While the official policy of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs was to connect the Jewish issue with the passage of national interests (German reparations, etc.) at the operational level, the Greek military, judges and police officers did not press the Greek citizens to hand over the confiscated property. For its part, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs attempted to delay, or hamper, the repatriation of Greek Jews who survived the Nazi camps. The first government of Themistoklis Sofoulis issued forced Law 846 of 22 January 1946, which cancelled for Jews the order of the civil law that, in the absence of heirs, the deceased's property would automatically pass to the state. The practical application of the law, however, began only three years later with the publication of the Royal Decree of 29 March 1949, which established the office for assistance and rehabilitation of the people of Israel in Greece. According to recently known data, only 300 houses and 50 shops were returned to their owners.

The continuation of the study of the archives of the Jewish community in Thessaloniki, the management service of the assets of the people of Israel in Greece, the office for assistance and rehabilitation of the people of Israel in Greece, the property registers in Thessaloniki and Athens, the bank records, the archives of factories and companies of that time and the additional research in the British archives could give answers to these questions and connect the fragments of the complex and often unexpected puzzle of the economy during the Occupation and provide data on the dispersion of the property of Jews and on the social and political processes in that era. The economic activity during the occupation was anyway very complex and multifaceted. Big capital was in circulation in the black market and industrialists and businessmen were widely speculating.

How many of the surviving Jews returned to Thessaloniki or settled in other countries?

About 2,000 from a total of 50,000 Salonika Jews returned. 1,000 of them survived the concentration camps and the rest descended from the mountain or returned from other locations in Greece, where they were hiding during the occupation.

Of 31 Jewish communities before the war, now there are only 8 in Greece, and their members are few.

The number of surviving Jews from all over Greece was about 10-12,000 (compared to 70-75,000 before the war). Many of them emigrated to Israel and the United States, and around 6,000 remained in Greece.  

Today, the Jewish community in Thessaloniki has less than 6,000 members.

How would you comment on the fact that, so many years after World War II and the revelations of terror in concentration camps, anti-Semitism in Europe continues to be so strong?

Anti-Semitism and other ideologies of exclusion and discrimination can be very durable, but they change at the same time. They retain elements of the past and become enriched with new ones, depending on the epoch.

The historical approach helps us to understand this process. The hatred of Jews preceded the modern era and the emergence of the term anti-Semitism, which is a creation of the modern era and the end of the 19th century. This particular category of hatred contains mostly religious elements. The dominance of Christianity, the conflict between the Church and heresy, the Inquisition, the anti-heretic theoretical arsenal that was hiding political rivalries also explain the attitudes toward Jews and other minority groups such as lepers, homosexuals and witches.

Respectively, the modern world, the revolutions of the late 19th century (the French one, the revolutions of 1848, etc.), the end of empires and aristocracy, science, colonies, parliamentarism, but also nationalism, the Jewish emancipation and the first crisis of liberal economics with the subsequent conservative retreat, the October Revolution, World War I, the crisis in 1929, fascism and Nazism, can explain the racist - for the first time - anti-Semitism, the identification of Jews with capitalism, and later with Bolshevism. An identification that presents them as a reason for the plight of European societies, both because of economic and social reasons, and because of the presence of an ideological foundation created by the pre-existing religious Anti-Judaism.

In our era, with the knowledge and tools at our disposal, it is necessary to decipher ideologies, practices and ways of isolation.

Do you think there is a danger for humanity to experience a new Holocaust or another similar genocide?

If we talk about genocide carried out in a similar way, probably not. However, after World War II, there were hundreds, maybe thousands, of crimes directed against national, ethnic or religious groups with thousands of victims.

In today's era of profound crisis in Europe and the world, genocide, a mass crime or a policy that leads to mass deaths can often be presented as a restoration of order, or defending the safety from the immigrant, Jew, 'unbelievers', neighbouring people, from every "other" person.

Let us think of, and look for, the motives whenever something similar happens, investigate who has an interest in it, without relying on the easy explanation that the case is about scapegoats.


Tags: HistoryOhi DayIoannis MetaxasWorld War IIGreek JewsThessalonikiDeportationOccupationGerman authoritiesBulgarian authorities
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