Greece

Historical Background

Public humiliation of the Jews of Salonika, 11 July 1942, when 9,000 Jewish males of ages of 18-45 were forcibly assembled at Liberty Square in the city’s central square where they were beaten and terrorizedPublic humiliation of the Jews of Salonika, 11 July 1942, when 9,000 Jewish males of ages of 18-45 were forcibly assembled at Liberty Square in the city’s central square where they were beaten and terrorized

At the time of the Axis occupation in 1941, about 77,000 Jews lived in Greece. The country was divided between Germany, Italy and Bulgaria. Salonika – the largest Jewish Community in Greece with a population of about 50,000 Jews – was under German occupation. Persecution of the Salonika Jews culminated with the establishment of two ghettos, followed by the deportation of the Jews to Auschwitz-Birkenau in spring 1943. Until September 1943, Athens was in the part under Italian rule. Although being part of the Berlin-Rome axis, the Italian government did not implement the mass murder of Jews. Thousands of Jews residing in the German-occupied areas fled to the relative safety of the Italian occupation zone, and the pre-war Jewish population of Athens of 3,500 Jews consequently rose to 8,000-10,000. This refuge was only temporary, because after the Italian surrender to the Allies in September 1943, the Germans occupied the rest of Greece and subjected all Greek Jews to the Final Solution – deporting Jews from Athens (in April 1944), from other communities of the mainland and reaching as far as all the ancient Jewish communities on the Greek islands (summer 1944). A total of 60,000 Greek Jews perished in the Holocaust.