Photo: Greek Holocaust survivor

2 Jun

(Photo: Isaac Mizan (R), a survivor of the Holocaust, shows his tattooed serial number to university students in the Philosophical department at the University of Athens, May 29, 2012, in Athens, during an event dedicated to the remembering of the Holocaust. Greek Holocaust survivors made a rare public appearance today to challenge a neo-nazi party whose leader has cast doubt on the genocide and which won its first seats in parliament this month. They told of their ordeals during the killings and deportations by the Nazis that decimated the Greek Jewish population during World War II, a part of wartime history that is little talked about in Greece. By STR/AFP/GettyImages.)

Did they talk about the pre-war experiences of Greek Jews?  That they faced discriminatory re-housing policies after the 1917 fire that destroyed most of the Jewish-inhabited areas of Salonica, including about thirty of  what were probably some of the oldest and most historic synagogues in the world?  About violence against the community by fascist elements during the twenties and thirties, uncontained by any government, including the Campbell Riot of 1931 that destroyed shops, homes and synagogues?  That the great Venizelos had the community registered on a separate electoral role to neutralize any political power they might have on the grounds that you could not have a “foreign arbiter” playing a role in Greek politics, but really because Greek Jews were generally monarchists in their sympathies.*  About the community’s running battle with the municipality of Salonica during the inter-war years to prevent appropriation of its cemetery, one of the oldest and largest in the world that contained an estimated 350,000 graves before the war?  About how after the Germans destroyed it the municipality used discarded gravestones as sidewalk pavement and built the city’s university on the ruins?  That there’s been no effort to save relics of the cemetery found at any point during the university’s expansion or during the recent metro construction through the area?

* See Syrian Christians; minorities have almost always feared “liberals” and “democrats,” wary of the tyranny of the majority without a protecting “patron” of their own.

Comment: nikobakos@gmail.com

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