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Holocaust Victims from Various Greek Towns

Introduction by Marcia Haddad Ikonomopoulous
Museum Director (Kehila Kedosha Janina Museum)

Arta

Before the middle of the 19th century, Arta was the true center of Romaniote Jewry. The indigenous Jews of Arta, Greek speaking Romaniote Jews, would be supplemented by Jews from Apulia Italy and Spain, as persecutions and forced exile reached those Jewish communities further west. When Arta became part of the Modern State of Greece in 1881, Ioannina was still under Ottoman Turkish rule, not becoming part of Modern Greece until 1913. During that 32-year interim, commerce and trade in Arta would suffer and many of the Jews who relied on trade with Ioannina, moved to other Jewish communities in Greece, notably Athens, Ioannina and Corfu.

The Jews in Arta were engaged in a number of occupations, many having to do with textiles. They owned small shops but also were engaged in commercial enterprises that took them to other parts of the Mediterranean.

The community supported a Jewish school and a synagogue. According to the 1939 census the community numbered 500. At the time of the deportations, the official count was 384.

On the night of March 24, 1944, timed to coincide with the approach of Greek Independence Day and the round-up of most of the remaining Jewish communities in Greece, the Jews of Arta were arrested by the Germans and deported to Auschwitz-Birkenau.

Official records note that 347 were deported, 28 escaped deportation by hiding in surrounding villages and 30 returned from the camps, leaving the number of 317 as the official number of those murdered. In 1947, only 60 Jews made up the Jewish community of Arta and, in 1959, the Community was officially dissolved. Most of the survivors had moved to Athens or immigrated to either the United States or Israel. Later, the Jewish cemetery was expropriated and the site where the Synagogue once stood was allotted to the Municipality1. Other than the remains of a few former Jewish homes and a recent plaque noting the loss of the community, nothing is left of the former Jewish Community of Arta.


We have worked for a number of years on the list of the Jews of Arta who perished in the Holocaust. We have included the names of Jews who were born in Arta but deported from elsewhere. There are more names on our main list than the official number of 317. Even with trying to make sense of duplications at Yad Vashem, we have had to live with discrepancies and errors. We have tried our best.
For additional information on the Jews of Arta, access our article in Archives on this website. “The Jews of Arta,” by Constantinos A. Tsiliyianni, Chronika [issue 192: July/August 2004]

Athens

The deportation list from Athens is far from complete.  The difficulties inherent in compiling this list are reflective of the situation of Jews living in Athens during the Occupation and the changes that took place in the capital city in the 1920’s.  Pre-WWII Athens was overshadowed by Salonika as a major center of Jewish presence and it was not until the exchange of populations in 1922/231 that the Jewish community of Athens would begin to grow.  Jewish presence in Athens predated Christianity but due to an unstable political environment and lack of substantial commerce it was not until 1885 that the Jewish community was legally established.  A synagogue was built in 1904 by Romaniote Jews who had come from Ioannina, seeking economic opportunities that their small city in northwestern Greece did not offer them.  The synagogue was dedicated as Etz Hayyim in 1906 but is still affectionately known as the Ioannotiki Synagogue.  A second synagogue, Beth Shalom, was built in the 1930s.

From the beginning of the twentieth century, Jews from elsewhere in Greece and from Jewish communities in other parts of Europe would begin to settle in Athens.  With the Occupation of Greece in April of 1941 and the establishment of Zones of Occupation by the Germans, Jews would begin to flee from cities in both the Bulgarian and German Zones of Occupation to the relatively safe haven of Athens, in the Italian Zone of Occupation. Many of these Jews were from traditional Spanish-speaking Sephardic backgrounds, their heavily accented Greek easily distinguishing them as Jews.

With the capitulation of Mussolini in September of 1943, Athens, formally under the protection of the Italians, was taken over by the Germans.  Jews began to seek sanctuary with Christian neighbors, many receiving false IDs with Christian names. The
indigenous Greek-speaking (Romaniote) Jews of the city were at an advantage.  Their Greek was unaccented and they had established relationships with Christians in the city, many of whom found them safe havens.  To the credit of Christian Athenians, many of whom were actively involved in the Resistance movement, of the estimated 3500 Jews living in the city in 1940, less than half (an estimated 1690) were deported.  Both Greek-speaking Romaniote and Spanish-speaking Sephardic Jews would be saved from the deportations due to the efforts of Archbishop Damaskenos and Chief of Police Angelos Evert.

 The Chief Rabbi of Athens, Elias Barzilai, when asked by the Germans to present the register of the Jews, destroyed the list, making it more difficult for the Germans to discover Jewish residences.  Using deception, the Germans lured Jews into Beth Shalom Synagogue on March 24th, 1944, offering free matzoth for Pessach.  Mostly men who had come to register, as was required by the Germans to receive the matzoth, many were joined by their wives and children when it was discovered what had happened.

They would be loaded onto trucks and taken to a nearby military base converted into a detention camp in Haidari.  They would be kept there for a number of days before being loaded into cattle cars and sent to Auschwitz-Birkenau.  Their transport would arrive on April 11, 1944, as would the transports carrying the Jews from Ioannina, Arta, Volos, Preveza, Chalkis, Patras, Trikala, Larissa and Kastoria.  Between March 24th of 1944 and July of 1944, other Jews would be rounded up in Athens and sent to Haidari. Some would accompany the Jews of Corfu to Auschwitz-Birkenau.  Others would share the fate of the Jews of Rhodes. 

There are additional entries of Jews who were born in Athens but were deported from elsewhere in Europe, many transplanted to Belgium and France, seeking a better life for themselves and their children. The destruction of the register of the Jews of Athens saved many Jews.  It also makes it more difficult to compile a list of Jews who were deported.  The Museum Director of Kehila Kedosha Janina, Marcia Haddad Ikonomopoulos, has been working for over a decade, attempting to compile a list of Jews who were deported from Athens to their deaths in the Spring and early Summer of 1944.  As seen by the data that follows, the Athens Jewish Community in 1944 was a microcosm of Jewish life in the Eastern Mediterranean; indigenous Greek-speaking Jews, Spanish Jews who came from Turkey, Yugoslavia and major centers of Sephardic life in Greece (Salonika, Drama, Komotini, Kavala, Larissa, Volos, etc.)  There were also Romaniote Jews who had their origins elsewhere in Greece (Arta, Preveza, Corfu, Crete and Chalkis) and would leave their families behind to come to Athens to seek their fortunes.  They would be briefly reunited with their relatives in Auschwitz-Birkenau as they awaited their imminent deaths.

Chalkis

The Jewish Community of Chalkis, a Greek-speaking Romaniote community may be one of the oldest Jewish communities on Greek soil. Living in relative isolation from the mainstream of Jewish life on Greek soil, the Jewish community of Chalkis was not swept into the Spanish-speaking Jewish world with the arrival of the Sephardim after the expulsion of the Jews from Spain. It remained Greek-speaking.

With Greece’s entrance into WWII, in October of 1940, Chalkis would provide one of the most famous Greek-Jewish war heroes, Colonel Mordechai Frezis, one of the first high ranking Greek officers to fall in battle on the Albanian Front on December 11, 1940. Of the 325 Jew living in Chalkis, only 22 perished in the Holocaust. This was due to the protection given by Christian Greek citizens, the National Resistance Fighters and the Metropolitan Bishop Grigorios, who hid sacred objects belonging to the Synagogue inside the Metropolitan Church.

These records are in memory of the Jews of Chalkis who were deported to concentration camps in March of 1944.

Preveza

The records of Jews residing in Preveza who were deported to Auschwitz-Birkenau in the Spring of 1944, were initially gathered from the “Book of Memory” published in Greece by the Central Board of Jewish Communities in the 1979. Information has been supplemented by personal interviews with survivors and Yad Vashem’s Hall of names. Through cross-referencing, we can also include the information of those who were born in Ioannina, and the names of those who were born elsewhere in Greece but were deported from Preveza.

In addition, we included names of those who were born in Preveza but were deported from elsewhere in Greece. All of this reflects the complicated pre-Holocaust situation in Greece; the movement of Jews in search of economic opportunities, as many moved to the capital city. Then, of course, there was the frantic search for safe havens during the Occupation of Greece that led some Jews to leave their native cities and seek hiding elsewhere where they were less well known and less likely to be denounced by collaborators. Taking all of this into  consideration, we have tried, to the best of our ability, to be as accurate as is possible.

According to the registers of Preveza, the Jewish population in 1940 was 240. The Jews of Preveza were rounded up on March 25, 1944. They would arrive at Auschwitz-Birkenau on April 11, 1944. Most would be sent immediately to the gas chambers.

For additional information on the Jewish community of Preveza, see the article on this website (in archives): The Jews of Preveza by George Moustaki, Chronika: January/February 2005: issue 195. Translated by Marcia Haddad Ikonomopoulos and, of course, our previous exhibit on “The Jewish Community of Preveza” on our website under “Previous Exhibits.”

Trikala

On March 24th, 1944, 139 members of the Jewish Community of Trikala were deported and sent to Auschwitz-Birkenau where they were exterminated. May their names be inscribed for eternity.

Volos

Thanks to Mathilde Tagger, we received an important document listing the names of those who perished during the Holocaust in Volos. The document was list of the names of those who were deported and exterminated, along with the names of those who died during the harsh German Occupation, or were executed in Volos by the Germans.

Additional information was gathered through cross-referencing, especially with information provided by Raphael Frezis to Yad Vashem in 2007. Through crossreferencing, we can also include the information of those who were born in Ioannina, and the names of those who were born in Volos but were deported from elsewhere, either in Greece or in other countries.

For more information on the Jews of other Greek towns, please see the Museum’s website at https://www.kkjsm.org/

DATABASE

This database includes 3,366 Greeks deported from the towns listed above..

Names listed are based on the Greek spelling. Therefore, names such as Cohen will appear under “K” since there is no “C” in Greek and the name was spelled “Koen”. There are also no “Confinas” or “Confinos” since both names were spelled “Koffinas” and were most likely changed in pronunciation when coming to the United States.

There are also times that there were two names for the family. This was due to the way the Romaniotes named (Solomon ben Samuel, etc.) Very often, the name that had become the surname for the family was only used for municipal records but the family was known by another name. We have included whatever information was available to us. Where there is no mention of age or relationship (or occupation) in the database, it is because we did not have this information.

The fields for this database are as follows:

  • Deported From
  • Surname
  • Given Name
  • Father or Husband’s Given Name
  • Age or Year of Birth
  • Cause of Death
  • Other Information and Comments

Specific footnotes by deportation town:

Arta

  1. This last information is from the official website of KIS (Central Board of Jewish Communities of Greece)
  2. It is not unusual to have conflicting info in the Yad Vashem records. Unfortunately, many Greek Jews filling out the forms did not understand Hebrew.
  3. See footnote 1.
  4. See footnote 1.
  5. Second Yad Vashem testimony has her with Elias as her father.
  6. Another conflict in Yad Vashem testimonies.
  7. There is another testimony by Elias Ieremias where he lists the same family but Sarika’s maiden name is given as Kabeli.
  8. Sultana Albala was born in Preveza and deported from Athens. Therefore, she does not appear on the Arta deportation list. Sultana appears
  9. Rebecca Matsas Aaron was born in Corfu and deported from Athens. She would appear on the Athens deportation list. Rebecca was 24 when she
  10. Mary was also deported from Athens. She is listed on the Athens deportation list. She was born in izmir and, therefore, is not listed on
  11. One son survived and one was deported with his family from Athens. Fate of rest of children not know at present.
  12. Listed on Preveza list of Holocaust victims
  13. Listed on Corfu deportation list
  14. Listed on Corfu deportation list. Deported with husband and 2 young children
  15. Deported from Corfu with husband and 3 children
  16. Confusion as to where Joyia was born. One Yad Vashem testimony has her born in Preveza and another in Arta. Listed on Corfu deportation
  17. Listed in Corfu deportations with wife and 5 children
  18. Listed in Corfu deportation list.
  19. Deported with 2 young children. No mention of her husband on list of victims.

Athens

  1. NA
  2. Again, conflicting testimonies at Yad Vashem made it difficult to ascertain the exact age of individuals where community archives were destroyed or, stolen, as was the case in Salonika.
  3. We do not know if the three Annas listed as being born in Yugoslavia and married to Haim are all the same person. This is often the problem with Yad Vashem testimonies. There was no attempt at cross-referencing and, conflicting information exists in the records.
  4. There is no clarity with the spelling of this surname and no archival records to cross-reference.
  5. There is the possibility that Eliaou died in Athens but until the release of concentration camp lists from the Germans, there is no way of verifying if Eliaou entered the camp. At age 23, he would have most likely received a, cumber (if transported) and have been entered into the camp archives.
  6. Trieste was intermittently part of Austria and part of Italy.
  7. Conflicting testimonies by the same person.
  8. An example of the unfortunate inaccuracies found in the hall of Names at yad Vashem. Ruth is given as the daughter of Barouch (born in 1898) and the, sister of Moshe ben Joseph (born in 1902).
  9. Obvious error. Unfortunately Yad Vashem does not correct obvious errors. There are no Athens archives to cross-reference. Volunteers took testimonies, often using Hebrew, a language the survivors may or may not have been familiar with. Considering how traumatic it was to give the information on family members who were lost in the Holocaust, we can understand the mistakes made. It would have been wise to have people familiar with the survivor’s native language and certainly with the Holocaust. There were no transports of Jews from Greece to the camps before 1943. Simple knowledge of this would have enabled the interviewer to gently correct the survivor.
  10. 10 See footnote 7.
  11. 11 See footnote 7.
  12. We have no way of verifying this data. While it is possible that a man of his age could have died due to the hardships in Athens in 1942, it would be unlikely that both he and his wife died in 1942 in Athens.
  13. See footnote 11.
  14. It is interesting that a number of individuals who were deported from Athens were listed on the list of victims from Austria and were, obviously, not exterminated immediately upon arrival in the camp of Auschwitz. It might have been that they were of Austrian descent (all are listed as speaking German) but might have claimed Turkish citizenship., 15 See footnote 11., 16 See footnote 11., 17 See footnote 11.
  15. 15 See footnote 11.
  16. 16 See footnote 11.
  17. 17 See footnote 11.
  18. If Sara was deported from Salonika she would have gone to Auschwitz.
  19. See Corfu deportation list., 20 See footnote 18
  20. See footnote 18
  21. See footnote 18
  22. See footnote 18
  23. See footnote 18.

Chalkis

  1. Another testimony has Simeon as being 41.
  2. Listed on Volos list.

Kavala

  1. Book of Memory has another Gracia Carasso with Jacko as father. Age is listed as 17.

Trikala

  1. On March 24th, 1944, 139 members of the Jewish Community of Trikala were deported and sent to Auschwitz-Birkenau where they were exterminated

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

We are deeply indebted to Marcia Haddad Ikonomopolus, Museum Director for the Kehila Kedosha Janina Museum, for making this database available to JewishGen.  

Finally, we thank Mike Kalt, html volunteer, for placing this description online, and to Nolan Altman, Director of Special Projects and Coordinator of the Holocaust Database, for his continued devotion and dedication to JewishGen's important work.

December, 2021


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