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Translation of Thessaloniki (Salonika), Greece Yizkor Book

(Thessaloniki, Greece)


Project Leader: Lynn Gazis-Sax
JewishGen Liason/Advisor: Lance Ackerfeld

Project Synopsis

Known as “the Jerusalem of the Balkans” for its vibrant Jewish community, Salonika was the most prominent center of Sephardic Jews in Europe. In 1430 Salonika was occupied by the Turks. In 1470 Bavarian Jews arrived and many of the Jews expelled from Spain in 1492 as well as those expelled from Sicily, Portugal, Italy and France settled there. In 1900, there were about 80,000 Jews in Salonika, which decreased to 60,000 in 1935. At the beginning of World War II possibly a fifth of the population was Jewish. Nearly all died in the Holocaust.

In 1972 and in 1986, former residents of Saloniki published a massive 2-volume Yizkor book in Hebrew and Ladino: Zikron Salonike; gedulata ve-hurbana shel Yerushalim de-Balkan; grandeza i destruyicion de Yerushalim del Balken, ed. David A. Rekanati, Tel Aviv. Vol I: 1972, 524 (Hebrew) and 72 (Ladino) pages; Vol II: 1986, 626 (Hebrew) and 60 (Ladino) pages. Approximately 110 pages (61 from volume 1 and 49 from volume 2) have been translated by volunteers and are online at In order to translate the remainder of the book, JewishGen requires the services of a professional translator.

Key Audience

Jewish genealogists seeking to trace their roots in this town constitute an important audience for the material. However, the material has the potential to be of broader interest to scholars specializing in Jewish history and society in this region.

Project Importance

Yizkor books are unique sources of information on once vibrant towns, primarily in Central and Eastern Europe whose Jewish populations were destroyed in the Holocaust. Written during or after World War II by émigrés and Holocaust survivors, Yizkor books contain narratives of the history of the town, details of daily life, religious and political figures and movements, religious and secular education.

Thessaloniki is the second largest center in Greece and Greece's second largest port. Sephardic Jews were welcomed to this city by the Ottoman Empire after their expulsion from Spain in 1492, and for centuries Thessaloniki was a prominent commercial center and industrial center in which Jews were represented at all levels of society.

The Germans entered Salonika on April 9, 1941 and instituted forced labor in the summer of 1942. In December 1942, the cemetery, containing nearly 500,000 graves dating back to the 15th Century, was expropriated for use as a quarry. Every few days, the Germans deported 2800-person convoys of Jews to Auschwitz and Birkenau, where they were exterminated. In just a few months during 1943, 95% of the Jewish population was deported. The Germans sent a small number of Salonika's Jews to Bergen Belsen, where some survived. Greek and Allied forces liberated Salonika in October 1944.

Project Description

Approximately 1,172 pages remain to be translated and put online at To accomplish that JewishGen will hire a professional translator. The project coordinator will select the order in which to translate the chapters and will work closely with the translator to ensure a grammatically correct and idiomatic translation. Specific tasks the project coordinator will perform include proofreading, editing, and preparing the work for submission to the Yizkor Book Project.

Estimated Cost



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