A Call for Help to Sotirios
Yiorgos & Magdalini Mitzeliotis
Stefanos & Magdalini Korfiatis
In April, 1943, when the deportations of the Jews from Thessaloniki had already gotten underway, Yiorgos Mitzeliotis, the mayor of the village of Glossa on the island of Skopelos, received a telegram from his friend Jacques Leon. The wording was somewhat strange, as it was addressed to “Sotirios Mitzeliotis.” There was no one by the name of Sotirios Mitzeliotis in the village, but with Yiorgos being the only one with this last name, the telegram was delivered to him. Sotirios is a common name in Greece, but it also means “rescuer.”, so Yiorgos figured out that Leon was in trouble. He therefore traveled to Thessaloniki to meet his friend and took an identity card with a false name with him. Mitzeliotis then took Leon and traveled with him, first by bus to Epanomi, 50 km from Thessaloniki, and then, by sailboat to Glossa. The journey took several days and there was constant danger of being caught by German patrols. Once arrived in the village, Leon was welcomed warmly by Magdalini (Madeleine), Yiorgos’s wife, as well as by his brother-in-law, Stefanos Korfiatis and his wife – Yiorgos’s sister – also named Magdalini. They took good care of him and provided for all his needs. At Leon’s request, Mitzeliotis went to Athens, which was in the Italian zone at the time, to check how Leon’s family was doing; he returned with the report that they were all right. But after September 1943, when the Germans occupied the capital, the situation in Athens changed and the Jews were now in danger, especially the refugees from Thessaloniki and other places, who, like Leon’s family, were homeless and penniless.
Mitzeliotis and Korfiatis decided to bring all the members of Leon’s family to their village. They arrived in Glossa in October 1943 and the 14 family members (Isaac Leon, Henriette Leon, Juda Leon, Victoria Leon, Nina Camhi née Leon, Nikos Leon, Jacques Leon, Elie Cohen, Jeanne Cohen, Maurice Leon, Berthe Matathia née Leon, Sarina Saltiel née Cohen, Isaac Roussos and Solomon Molho) were scattered among the huts in the village so as not to arouse suspicion. The villagers shared their meager food with them and gave them drinking water. Their true identity was not discovered, and they remained there until the liberation.
On May 28, 1981,Yad Vashem recognized Yiorgos Mitzeliotis and his wife, Magdalini, and Stefanos Korfiatis, and his wife, Magdalini, as Righteous Among the Nations.