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Monday, April 12, 2004


JPost: The head of the Jewish community in Salonika, Greece, is attempting to compile a comprehensive list of Jews from the city who were murdered by the Germans during the Holocaust, according to a recent bulletin issued by the community.

Heinz Kounio, President of the Assembly of the Jewish Community of Thessaloniki (as the city of Salonika is now known), is himself a survivor of the Holocaust, and he has been working to gather and record the names of those who were lost.

Kounio has succeeded in collecting some 25,000 names to date. It is believed that the Germans murdered more than 50,000 Jews from Salonika during their occupation of Greece.

Though the community once had detailed archives, they were confiscated by the Germans during World War Two, and then taken by the Allied Forces at the end of the war. Portions of them have since been found in Israel, the United States and Russia.

According to the community bulletin, "Our main concern is that no name shall be left out: that all those who have perished be recorded for eternity. It is our obligation: it is our responsibility."

Anyone with relevant information regarding the names or fate of Holocaust victims from Salonika should contact Marcia Haddad Ikonomopoulos at afgj@msn.com.
During the Nazi occupation the Jewish communities in Greece were decimated by "the transportation of Jews to concentration camps in Poland and Germany or by their execution." According to the USHMM Learning Center, at the onset of WWII, more than 50,000 Jews lived in Salonika, the largest Jewish community in Greece . . . More than 45,000 are known to have been deported.

The first historical reference to the establishment of Jews in Greece is made on an inscription found at Oropos, Attica (dated between 300 and 250 CE) and refers to the Jew from Biotea, Moshos Moshionos. It is said that the first Jews who came to Greece were slaves, who were sold by the various conquerors of Judea to neighboring peoples. Among other Jews, the name of the high priest Jason the 3rd is mentioned as going to Sparta during the reign of king Antioch (who was enthroned in 175 BCE).

In the Book of the Maccabees is included a list of cities, dated from 142 BCE, which compared to the list composed by the historian Filo Judeus, refers to the existence of Jews in various areas of Greece such as Sparta, Delos, Sikyon, Samos, Kos, Crete, Thessaly, Biotea, Macedonia, Aitolia, Attica, Argos, Corinth as well as Cyprus.

See also this article in The Forward: "When the Jerusalem of the Balkans Was the Mediterranean's Pearl",

more history at the Jewish Museum of Greece,

and this link for The Holocaust in Greece, presented by the US Holocaust Memorial Museum.

Aharon Castro was born in 1926, into the large Jewish community of Saloniki, Greece. In 1933, he was brought to Palestine by his mother, along with his sister Flora. His parents, Alberto and Anina, were in the clothing business in Greece, and came here after the visit to their city by Ze'ev Jabotinsky, which raised Zionist awareness [and thus, saved lives] among that community.

Speaking of Jabotinsky, according to this, he had a plan to murder Hitler.