Brit-Am Historical Reports (April 24, 2013, Iyar 14, 5773)
1. Holocaust Records: The Betrayal of Salonika's Jews by Andrew Apostolou
2. Article on John Patterson. The Lion Hunter of Zion
3. An image of the Loch Ness Monster in a medieval manuscript?
1. Holocaust Records: The Betrayal of Salonika's Jews
By Andrew Apostolou
The Nazis mass deportations of Jews from Greece in 1943 and 1944 largely
ended the life of a thriving community, one responsible for centuries of
important contributions to Jewish culture and to the life of the land in
which the community lived.Â Eighty-six percent of Greece's prewar Jewish
population perished.Â In Salonika, where 70 percent of Greek Jews lived,
the death rate exceeded 90 percent.Â While the German campaign to kill the
Jews is no secret, few in Greece acknowledge that the Germans had the
support of Greek administrators and police.
Yet the Germans succeeded in their nefarious work precisely because Greek
non-Jews were willing to assist.Â The German occupiers of Salonika
implemented their standard battery of anti-Semitic measures with
consistent support from Greek Christian administrators, civil servants,
and police.Â The Germans systematically impoverished, isolated, marked,
ghettoized, and then deported the Jews.Â The number of German officials
directly involved in deporting tens of thousands of Salonika Jews to
Auschwitz in 1943 was relatively small, because the local Greek
authorities cooperated and contributed their own manpower.
Salonika is central to the history of the Holocaust in Greece because it
had a Jewish identity that many Greeks wanted to erase.Â Thousands of Jews
fleeing from Spain and Portugal (together, Sepharad in Hebrew) had revived
the city in the late 15th century.Â The Sephardim soon became a majority
in Salonika, turning the city, then under Ottoman rule, into a major
Jewish religious and cultural center.Â When Greek troops captured Salonika
in 1912, they found a city in which the main language was Ladino, not
Greek. Although the Jews were anxious about Greek rule, they adjusted, and
the younger generations learned the Greek language.Â By the eve of World
War II, the Jews were no longer a majority of the cityâ€™s inhabitants, but
they had every reason to believe that they were Greeks and that Greece was
The feeling was not reciprocated by many of Salonikaâ€™s Christians, and the
arrival of the Germans in 1941 provided them with their opportunity.Â The
character of Salonika had changed in the 1920s after a large influx of
Greek Christian refugees from Turkey.Â The Greek government promoted the
cityâ€™s Greek identity, even discouraging the use of shop signs in Ladino.
The Greek press in the city was often viciously anti-Jewish, inciting a
1931 pogrom that claimed two lives.Â When the Germans entered Salonika on
April 6, 1941, they found a willing cadre of collaborators and a broad
section of Greek Christian opinion hostile to the Jews.
Local Greek anti-Semites volunteered their services to the Germans,
helping them publish two propaganda newspapers that vilified the Jews.Â On
April 21, 1941, the day after Hitlerâ€™s birthday, Greek Christian
collaborators put up signs in Greek and German declaring â€œJews unwelcome
in this shop.â€Â This was the first appearance of such notices in Greece.
The German occupation authorities, who were not yet ready for such
measures, halted the campaign.
Equally useful to the Germans was the accommodating attitude of the Greek
administration in Salonika. Government officials and police commanders in
Salonika complied with German orders and even showed some initiative.Â A
figure central to the implementation of Nazi measures was Vassilis
Simonides, the administrator for northern Greece, who was based in
Salonika.Â Simonides was an economist with no overt ideological leanings,
but he frequently did more than just translate and circulate German
When the German military decided on a mass call-up of Jewish men in
Salonika for forced labor in July, 1942, Simonides issued a proclamation
specifying that the measure applied to men of the Jewish â€œrace,â€
regardless of their religion.Â While this was consistent with Nazi racism,
it was the first time that Greece had ever defined Jews by race.Â The
Greek police and the Salonika municipality participated in registering
close to 9,000 Jewish men, while German soldiers and sailors beat and
humiliated them.Â The Greek police then marched the men away to work on
German military projects that were supervised by Greek engineers.
Demobilized Greek military officers watched over the Jewish laborers,
sometimes contributing their own abuse to that of the Germans.
Â In January, 1943, the Germans provided the Greek
collaborationist government in Athens with close to two monthsâ€™ warning of
the deportations.Â Gunther Altenburg, the de facto German ambassador, met
with the collaborationist prime minister, Constantine Logothetopoulos, to
inform him of the impending expulsion of the Greek Jews to Poland.Â After
their discussion, Altenburg told Berlin to expect â€œno difficultiesâ€ from
Instead of raising the alarm, the Greek authorities used their advance
notice to push through German measures designed to isolate the Salonika
Jews.Â Throughout February and March of 1943, the Greek authorities in
Salonika implemented German orders that expelled Jews from public bodies
and associations, forced Jews to wear the yellow star, and barred Jews
from public transportation.Â The Greek administration helped the Germans
confine the Jews to two main ghettos, which had never before existed in
Salonika, and set Greek police guards around them.
The process of assisting in the deportations followed directly from these
other initiatives.Â On March 15, 1943, the Greek police marched Jews to
the Salonika railway station.Â Eighteen trains, supplied by the Greek
railways, took 45,324 Jews to Auschwitz.Â Upon their arrival, the Germans
sent most of them to the gas chambers.Â By the end of the war there were
just 2,000 Jews in Salonika.
Greek officials also initiated their own measures against Jews.Â During
the spring of 1943, Italian consular officials issued protection papers to
75 Salonika Jews with apparent ties to Italy.Â The Germans could not
respond aggressively to their Italian allyâ€™s behavior; the Greek
authorities also needed to be careful, since Italy, along with Germany,
was an occupying power in Greece and could retaliate.Â Nevertheless, Greek
officials confiscated the protective documents.Â The Germans then arrested
the Jews and deported them.
By late 1944, as the war was entering its closing stages and the Germans
were preparing to leave Greece, just 13 Jews were known to be in Salonika.
Â The Red Cross, bribes, and in one case an American passport saved five of
these Jews.Â Greek collaborators shot the remaining eight on September 8,
Andrew Apostolou is a historian based in Washington D.C.
2. Article on John Patterson. The Lion Hunter of Zion
Patterson spent most of his later years actively campaigning for a Jewish homeland and against the British Mandate's actions towards the Jews in Palestine. Tragically, he passed away a month before the State of Israel was created. The newly formed country would not have won the War of Independence without trained soldiers, Â and the soldiers were trained by veterans of Patterson's Jewish Legion and Jewish Infantry Brigade. Colonel John Patterson had ensured the survival of the Jewish homeland.
3. An image of the Loch Ness Monster in a medieval manuscript?: