We are searching data for your request:

Forums and discussions:
Manuals and reference books:
Data from registers:
Wait the end of the search in all databases.
Upon completion, a link will appear to access the found materials.

Salonika is a strategically important Greek port on the Aegean coast of Macedonia. As there was a direct railway link between Salonika and Belgrade, this became the best route to send Allied aid to Serbia. In September 1915, Britain and France accepted the invitation from the Greek prime minister, Eleutherios Venizelos, to land Allied troops at Salonika.

The first Anglo-French troops arrived at Salonika on 5th October, 1915. With Bulgarian and German troops on the frontier, the French commander, General Maurice Sarrail and General George Milne, the leader of the British troops, turned Salonika and its surrounds into an entrenched zone. This included a trench-system similar to the one on the Western Front.

We can hear the guns more distinctly today, it is such a gruesome sound. We have still had no word of moving. I was in town this afternoon with Woody and Adam. We saw a whole regiment of Italian troops marching up Venizelos Street, Cavalry and Infantry. They looked splendid, and one little man standing besides me, I presume he was an Italian, quite lost his head. He was so excited he jumped up and down as if he were on a spring! The troops were cheered by the crowd that always seemed to gather from nowhere when marching feet were heard. It is extraordinary the number of soldiers of different nationalities that you see in the town.

There are 40 census records available for the last name Salonika. Like a window into their day-to-day life, Salonika census records can tell you where and how your ancestors worked, their level of education, veteran status, and more.

There are 40 immigration records available for the last name Salonika. Passenger lists are your ticket to knowing when your ancestors arrived in the USA, and how they made the journey - from the ship name to ports of arrival and departure.

There are 10 military records available for the last name Salonika. For the veterans among your Salonika ancestors, military collections provide insights into where and when they served, and even physical descriptions.

There are 40 census records available for the last name Salonika. Like a window into their day-to-day life, Salonika census records can tell you where and how your ancestors worked, their level of education, veteran status, and more.

There are 40 immigration records available for the last name Salonika. Passenger lists are your ticket to knowing when your ancestors arrived in the USA, and how they made the journey - from the ship name to ports of arrival and departure.

There are 10 military records available for the last name Salonika. For the veterans among your Salonika ancestors, military collections provide insights into where and when they served, and even physical descriptions.


SALONIKA (Thessaloniki), port located in N.E. Greece. Although historical evidence is scarce, it is believed that the Alexandrian Jews who arrived in ca. 140 B.C.E. were among the first Jews to settle in Salonika. Several sources give evidence of the existence and growth of the Jewish community during the Hellenistic and Roman periods. It is known that the apostle Paul preached for three consecutive Sabbaths in the synagogue of Salonika and that afterward he was forced to leave the town. The Romans granted autonomy to the community, whose members lived in a neighborhood near the port therefore, the Jews had the opportunity to develop strong commercial ties with many parts of the world. The Jews of Salonika during the Roman and Byzantine periods had Greek names and spoke Greek.

Byzantine Period

After the splitting up of the Roman empire in 395 C.E., Salonika became the second most important city – after Constantinople – in the ʫyzantine Empire . The Byzantine emperors in their efforts to Ȭhristianize" their subjects were hostile to the Jewish communities in their territory and especially to the Jews of Salonika. Constantine the Great (306�) and Theodosius II (408�) enforced anti-Jewish laws. Justinian I (527�) and Heraclius (610�) prohibited public fulfillment of the mitzvot. Basil I (866�), the Macedonian, and Leo III (717�), the Philosopher, forced the Jews to convert or leave the country. One of the very few emperors who acted favorably toward the Jews was Alexius I Comnenus, who during the First Crusade alleviated the taxes imposed upon them. During the same period, in 1096, the messianic movement that had started in Germany as a result of the persecutions in Mainz and had spread throughout Europe also reached Salonika. In 1169 Benjamin of Tudela visited Salonika and mentions that at that time there were about 500 Jews in the city. The sufferings of the Jews continued during the Latin Empire, which was established by the Crusaders (1204�), as well as under Theodore Ducas Angelus, the despot of Epirus, who ruled the kingdom of Salonika from 1223 or 1224 to 1230.

During the second half of the 14 th century Salonika attracted Jews, among the first being Hungarian Jews in 1376. Refugees from the 1391 riots in the Iberian Peninsula, mostly from Catalonia, found refuge in Salonika. In 1394, Jews migrated to the city from Provence. Like the Ashkenazim, the immigrants from the latter two regions formed their own synagogues. In 1423, Andromachos, the governor of Salonika, sold the city to the Venetians. The Venetians imposed heavy taxes on the Jews, who sent a special delegation to Venice to convince them to alleviate the burden. In spite of the hardships they suffered during the Byzantine period, the Jewish community of Salonika flourished: most of the Jews were merchants, engaging especially in the silk trade. Jews from Sicily, Venice, and other Italian cities migrated to Salonika and formed the synagogues Sicilia Yashan and Italia Yashan. There was also a veteran Romaniot community in the city. It is to be noted that the oldest synagogues of Salonika – Etz ha-Hayyim (which existed until the 1917 fire) and Etz ha-Daɺt�te as early as 142 B.C.E., and until the arrival of the Iberian expulsees in 1492, they observed the Romaniot prayer rite and customs. Nevertheless, it is impossible to affirm the continuity of the community.

Turkish Conquest – Sephardi Immigration (15 th � th Centuries)

In 1430 Salonika was occupied by the Turks. At approximately the same time waves of Jewish immigrants started arriving in the town. In 1470 Bavarian Jews arrived in Salonika and formed the Ashkenazi community near the existing Romaniot community. The two communities differed in every aspect: clothing, eating habits, religious rites, prayer books, etc. The Ashkenazi community continued to exist until the beginning of the 20 th century and the members were not assimilated into the other Jewish groups in Salonika. During the 15 th and 16 th centuries many Jewish expellees from Spain, Portugal, Italy, Sicily, and France, and refugees from North Africa, settled in Salonika. The largest numbers came in 1492𠄳 and 1536. Once in Salonika they founded separate synagogues (Ȭongregations," kahal kadosh). These synagogues were named after their native countries or towns: Sicily, Calabria, Majorca, Lisbon, etc. Salonika also received Marranos who were expelled from Portugal. In 1514 the rabbinical triumvirate of Salonika issued a special haskamah regarding the Marranos as Jews as far as marriage and divorce were concerned, i.e., they practically regarded the Marranos as Jews in every respect. Additionally, in 1555, when the Marranos from Ancona were persecuted by Pope Paul IV, the Jewish merchants of Salonika decided to boycott Ancona and incited the Jewish merchants all over the *Ottoman Empire to follow them in their act. Nevertheless, as a result of political and economic reasons, the boycott did not succeed. There was some emigration from Salonika, but not to a great extent. The reasons for the emigration were plagues and fires that ravaged the town in 1543, 1545, and 1548. It is estimated that by 1553 there were 20,000 Jews in Salonika: the location of the city and the fact of being a port – constituting a key point on the international trade route between the East and the West – helped attract settlers. Merchandise from the East came to Salonika and from there was transferred to the West and vice versa. The Jewish immigrants maintained their relations with their coreligionists and colleagues in their countries of origin – France, Flanders, Egypt, and especially with the Italian ports, above all Venice. They therefore had a relative advantage in international trade, Salonika's location helping to exploit this advantage to the maximum. Troubles, of course, were not lacking, coming in the form of pirates and highwaymen. The Jews of Salonika also engaged in the crafts, and the city was famous for its Jewish weavers and silk and wool dyers. Nearby there were gold and silver mines in Siderokastro and many of the miners were Jews. Another craft was the manufacture of jewelry.

There were three main concentrations of Jews in Salonika: a quarter next to the city wall at the port, i.e., very close to the main artery of trade the Francomahalla, i.e., the quarter of the ȯrancos" (foreigners from Europe), which presumably consisted of the elite of the Jewish inhabitants and the quarter near the hippodrome, which was primarily Greek. Thus, the Jews did not live near the Turks, the rulers of the town. The organization of Jewish life in Salonika was of a special character. There were about 30 independent congregations who sometimes associated themselves as a voluntary body that took care of the common interests of the congregations. The takkanot issued by this body had to be accepted by every congregation to be valid for it. They included women's rights, ethical matters, religious matters, etc. These takkanot were based on the takkanot of Toledo (1305), Aragon (1335), and Castile (1432). The heads of each community were called parnasim, memunim, nivrarim, and anshei maɺmad, and were elected by all the members of each congregation. A committee elected by the parnasim of each congregation decided what proportion of taxes each congregation had to pay to the Turkish authorities, according to the number of members and their financial state. Women, orphans, and the poor were exempt from taxes. Each congregation had the following communal organizations: 𞉎vra kaddisha, which was also called 𞉎vrat kevarim gemilut 𞉚sadim ("philanthropic organization") bikkur ḥolim (sick wards) yeshivah and bet din. The religious head of each kahal kadosh was the marbiẓ torah or 𞉚kham shalem, who was elected for a limited period of time and usually came from the town or country of origin of the kahal kadosh. The marbiẓ torah taught at the yeshivah of the congregation, was usually also the dayyan of the congregation, and delivered sermons on Sabbaths and holidays. Jews were forbidden by the halakhah to go to the Turkish authorities for matters pertaining to inheritance and ketubbot. The Talmud Torah Hagadol was formed in 1520 as a communal solution to education, since maintaining a school for each of the more than 30 kahalim became an insurmountable burden. It was a very large institution of 200 teachers, serving more than 10,000 students, and was not only a school but also had a communal treasury, library, printing press, a fabric industry, and its own prayer congregation. Salonika became a center of Torah learning and attracted many students from abroad. During the 16 th century there were numerous important rabbis whose influence spread beyond the borders of Salonika and even the Ottoman Empire. Among the most prominent were: Joseph ⫊ro , the famous rabbinic decisor who lived in Salonika during the years 1532� and continued to work there on his monumental Bet Yosef Solomon ʪlkabetz , the author of Lekhah Dodi Isaac 𪫚rbi , the author of Divrei Rivot and Divrei Shalom Moses ʪlmosnino , the author of many important works including Regimiento de la Vide and inventor of an astrolabe Moses de Boton (d. 1570) and his son Abraham de ʫoton (d. 1592), the author of the responsa Le𞉞m Rav and Le𞉞m Mishneh, a commentary on Moses *Maimonides ' 12 th -century code of Jewish law, Mishneh Torah and Samuel di *Medina ("RaSHdaM"), who left over 1,000 responsa and is considered among those halakhic authorities whose decisions both in halakhah and in practice can be relied upon. Salonika was also renowned as a center of Kabbalah. In addition to the rabbinical schools in Salonika in the 16 th century, there was a bet midrash for piyyutim and singing, as well as a bet midrash for secular studies where medicine, natural sciences, astronomy, and other subjects were taught. Saadia Longo was a noted local poet, and Israel *Najara of Damascus, who was of Salonikan familial origin, spent time there. The physician ʪmatus Lusitanus , who wrote treatises on circulation, taught in that above school of medicine when he settled in Salonika in 1558.

From 1515 the Jewish weavers of Salonika provided the Ottomans with cloth for army uniforms. Later the community could pay the mandatory poll tax (the jizya) as a protected minority religious group through this service. Thus, the Jewish community was recognized as "Musselemlik," recipient of Ȫ freedom letter" which exempted it from other taxes and made it an autonomous administrative body directly under the Sublime Porte.

17 th Century

At the beginning of the 17 th century the city once again suffered from plagues and fires (1604, 1609, 1610, 1618, 1620, 1630, 1636, 1640, 1648), causing emigration nevertheless, by the middle of the century there were about 30,000 Jews, or half of the total population of the town. Trade continued to flourish in spite of the drop in Venetian trade, which resulted from the loss of Crete to the Turks in 1669 and the riots caused by the janissaries at the same time. The Jews continued to export grain, cotton, wool, silk, and textiles. Many Jewish women worked in growing tobacco and its industry. At the same time fewer and fewer Jews worked in the crafts. Toward the end of the century a decline in commercial activities took place as a result of the decline of the Ottoman Empire, which had entered a state of continuous war with various countries and peoples. In spite of all these troubles Salonika remained a center of religious studies and halakhah. The famous halakhic authority R. Hayyim Shabbetai (1556�), author of the Torat ha-Hayyim and Teshuvot Rav 𞉊yyim Shabbetai, lived in the city during the first half of the 17 th century other important religious authorities included Aaron Cohen Perahiyah, the author of Parah Matteh Aharon, David ʬonforte , author of Kore ha-Dorot., Eliya Judah Kovo, av bet din from 1670 and author of Shenei Me'orot ha-Gedolim, and the great talmudic scholar Aaron 𞉊yyim ha-Kohen (1648�), author of the two-volume Matteh Aharon.

While in theory, the 1568 edict provided Salonikan Jewry protection from the whims of the local authorities, in practice local governors and government officials in the capital often ignored it. Dozens of firmans provide testimony as to how local authorities extorted additional sums from Salonikan Jewry for the poll tax. In 1636 the sultan ordered the execution of Rabbi Judah Covo when he underestimated the amount and quality of the cloth transmitted for tax payment from the Jews of Salonika to the authorities. Frequently, the Jews had to finance the sultan's wars by paying a special tax (avarish), and in 1646 a firman was issued for the rabbinical court judges of Salonika to issue a special tax to finance the war against Crete. The Jews, like other non-Muslims, were also frequently tormented by the Janissaries serving in the city.

The most influential event for the Jewish community in the 17 th century was the appearance of the pseudo-messiah *Shabbetai 𞤮vi . Expelled from *Izmir ca. 1651�, he arrived in Salonika sometime afterward. In the beginning he was very well treated, and he preached in the Shalom synagogue but later, when he married a Torah scroll, he was expelled after a decision made by the most important rabbis of the town. In 1666, after it was declared that he was the true messiah, he was arrested and given the choice by the sultan between death or conversion, he converted to Islam, and seven years after his death, in 1683, a group of believers – some 300 Jewish families – also converted to Islam. This sect was called the ʭoenmeh (in Turkish Ȫpostates") and their religious center was in Salonika, from which they spread to Constantinople and other places. *Shabbetai 𞤮vi's passage from Salonika and the conversion in 1666 that ensued caused turmoil among the Jews in Salonika the community consequently felt the need to unite. In 1680 the 30 congregations merged into one, with a supreme council composed of three rabbis and seven dignitaries. The three rabbis were elected for life and could not be replaced unless all three died. The first triumvirate was composed of Moses b. Hayyim Shabbetai, Abraham di Boton, and Elijah Kovo. Another important step was the reorganization of all the rabbinical courts into three bodies along the following lines: matrimonial rents, possessions (𞉊zakot) and ritual matters (issur ve-hetter). Each bet din was composed of three rabbis who were elected by the triumvirate they were known for their justness, and many Muslims and Greeks preferred to try the cases they had with Jews in these courts instead of the Turkish ones.

18 th � th Centuries

As the Ottoman Empire declined, the community's financial situation in Salonika worsened, and French merchants began to gain control of business interests. In 1720�, Portuguese Marranos, called ȯrancos," immigrated to Salonika. Most of them were well-educated, and among them were merchants and bankers, who had been established in Italy and in particular in Livorno.

They did not pay taxes to the sultan since they were considered as interpreters of the consuls. In the beginning they also refused to pay the relevant taxes to the Jewish community, but after a decision by the central committee of the community, they acceded to the community's demands. The Jewish population at that time was between 25,000 and 30,000. Nevertheless, both religious and secular studies declined, and only study of the *Kabbalah still flourished.

Leading rabbis of the 18 th century were Asher Ben Emanuel Salem, author of Responsa Asher (1748), Moses ben Solomon Amararillo, who wrote the 3-vol. Responsa Devar Moshe (1742, 1743, 1750), and Joseph ben David, author of Responsa Bet David (1740).

End of 19 th �ginning of 20 th Centuries

Toward the second half of the 19 th century the Turkish governors of the city initiated a further expansion of the town. A new port was built in 1889, which helped to develop trade. European culture and technology also began to flow into Salonika, and signs of this "Westernization" became apparent among the Jewish inhabitants as well. In 1873 the ʪlliance Israélite Universelle established a school, and additional schools along Western standards were also built. By the end of the 19 th century, the Alliance educational system in Salonika and other locations had produced a new generation of European-educated entrepreneurs prepared students to learn medicine, pharmacy, law, and education created secular literacy and enticed its graduates to pursue journalism, theatrical performance, and even the publication of novels, historical works, and short stories. Physicians who had studied in Europe helped to eliminate epidemics.

In 1864, Juda Nehama printed El Lunar, the first Judeo-Spanish newspaper in Salonika. Though it was short-lived, it was a new format of communication. He brought to the attention of the public items about science, translations from noted rabbinic works, stories, historical pieces, folkloric stories, commercial issues, and the like.

The main Judeo-Spanish newspaper of Salonika, La Epoca, was founded in 1875 by Saadi Halevi Ashkenazi, who was an active publisher in Salonika and was a scion of a family that published many exegeses from Sephardi 𞉚khamim in Salonika and elsewhere in the Ottoman Empire. This commercial and literary newspaper appeared twice a week until the summer of 1898, when it appeared also every Friday. The Halevis struggled financially to print the newspaper and keep it running, and it closed in 1912.

Parallel to Yiddish theater in the Ashkenazi world, the Sephardim of the Balkans had an active Judeo-Spanish theater. The Judeo-Spanish theater was the most active in Istanbul in the last quarter of the 19 th century, but by the end of the 19 th century it would be surpassed by the Salonikan stage. The first plays took place at the time of the opening of the local Alliance schools. The play Saul by Vittorio Alfieri was adapted into Judeo-Spanish by Joseph Errera, a local poet and train station manager who coordinated the dramatic productions of the organization. In 1882, El Tiempo, a translation of Racine's Esther, was also performed in Salonika, and in 1884, David Hassid adapted Lɺvare of Molière into Judeo-Spanish for the local Salonikan stage. In the 20 th century in Salonika, ideological movements like the Socialist Labor Federation, which essentially was a Jewish movement with 6,000 Sephardi Judeo-Spanish speaking members Jews, or Zionist movements and organizations like Betar, B'nai Mizrachi, Maccabi, Tiferet Israel, B'nai Zion, Cercle Max Nordau, and Poɺlei Zion organized Judeo-Spanish theatrical productions. In 1914, the drama group of the Socialist Federation produced both Molière's Garonudo and the comedy El hastron. In 1919 the above group performed Tolstoy's Resureccion.

Some of the Judeo-Spanish plays performed by the religious Westernization helped in the development of trade. In Istanbul and Izmir, the Jews could not compete against the Greek-Orthodox and Armenian merchants, as the latter were much more numerous and powerful, but in Salonika, where the Jews were a majority, they attained great wealth, developed the city industrially, and controlled the port, the commerce, banking, the tobacco trade, and the artisan professions. As a result of their European education, Salonikan Jews represented big European firms as maritime, commercial, insurance, and tobacco agents. As Salonika became connected to Mitrovitsa (1871), Belgrade (1880), Vienna (1888), Monastir (1893), and Istanbul (1895) by rail, exports from the city increased greatly, but the local Jews also developed industrial infrastructures, with small factories supplying Macedonia and Ottoman markets with flannel, knitted goods, and wool and cotton products. Nevertheless, the export of cotton, hides, silkworms, and wool continued to represent an important part of its activity. The volume of the Salonikan port rose from one to two million tons between the years 1880 and 1912.

As a result of this Westernization, liberalism became paramount among the Jews of Salonika. Nevertheless, this did not undermine the traditional ways of the community, and many new yeshivot were established. The 𞉎vrat Kadimah – for the spreading of the Hebrew language – was founded in 1899, and the well-known teacher Isaac ʮpstein was brought to Salonika to teach Hebrew. In 1887 the rabbinical triumvirate was dismissed, and Jacob Kovo was appointed to the post of *𞉚kham bashi (chief rabbi). In 1900 there were approximately 80,000 Jews in Salonika (out of a total population of 173,000). In 1908, when the Young Turks rose against the Ottoman sultan Abdul Hamid II, Jews were among their numbers. One of the first actions of the Young Turks when they came to power was the recruiting of all non-Muslims into the Turkish army. As a result, many young Jews left Salonika and emigrated to the U.S. in order to avoid serving in the Turkish army.

The Jews and the Doenmeh in Salonika, in particular, and Jews in other parts of the Ottoman Empire were active in the Young Turk Movement, the Committee for Union and Progress. The religious minorities led by Muslim reformists united, and were optimistic that they could induce change and play a more integral part in the political life of the Ottoman Empire. Some Salonikan Jews like Emmanuel Carasso, Moise Cohen (who was born in Serres and later changed his name to Tekinalp to assert his patriotism to Turkey), the attorney Emmanuel Salem, Nissim Mazliah (initially from Izmir), and Sam Levy were active and were somewhat prominent in CUP, but their influence has been questioned by scholars. During the demonstration in Salonika at Freedom Square ushering in the Young Turk Revolution and declaring a constitution, Carasso was one of the four speakers. In 1908 Carasso was one of four Ottoman Jews elected to the Ottoman Parliament. He refused the appointment of minister of public works in 1910, but was elected to the Senate in 1912 (along with two other Jews).

Since the Jews believed that the new government was more liberal and tolerant than the former one, they openly organized socialist and syndicalist movements. Avraham Benaroya of Plovdiv, an active Bulgarian socialist and former student of Bochor Azaria, moved to Salonika in 1907 to try the challenge of organizing a socialist movement. The Socialist Labor Federation of Salonika became primarily a Jewish socialist movement of some 6,000 workers. Benaroya was ultimately exiled and imprisoned by both the Young Turk government and the Greek authorities after Salonika became part of Greece in 1912.

At the same time, the first Zionist organizations, Agudath Bnei Zion and Maccabee, appeared in Salonika. By the eve of World War II there were more than 20 Zionist organizations. The Young Turk revolution marked a new "golden" era for the Jews of Salonika, and they could be found in every profession: merchants, tobacco workers, lawyers, physicians, teachers, while the Jewish stevedores of Salonika were famous. On Sabbaths the town and the port came to a standstill since the Jews did not work.

When the Greek army entered the town in 1912, King George declared that Jews and all other minorities were to have the same rights as the Greek population. After the Balkan Wars (1912�), Salonika could no longer be used as the port for the Balkan states. Nevertheless, trade continued to flourish during World War I since Salonika became a center for Allied soldiers. In 1917 a great fire destroyed most of the town, leaving some 55,000 Jews homeless. The Greek government, which followed a policy of Hellenizing the town, was ready to compensate the Jews whose houses had been destroyed, but it refused to let the Jews return to certain parts of the town, causing many of them to leave the country and emigrate to the U.S., France, Italy, and Alexandria. In 1923, a separate electoral college was set up for the Jews of Salonika (as well as for the Muslims in Thrace). While this enabled several Jews to be elected to parliament, they could not participate in national elections for the prime minister. This discriminatory system, which the Salonikan Jews unsuccessfully tried to fight internationally, continued until after the 1933 elections. In 1924 a law (no. 236) was enacted which forced all the inhabitants of Salonika to refrain from working on Sundays, thus causing another wave of emigration. Some went to Palestine, while most immigrated to Paris, where they founded an important community. In the 1931 Campbell riots, which accompanied the elections and were antisemitic in tone, an entire Jewish neighborhood was burned to the ground by hooligans of the EEE (Greek National Front) student movement and Asia Minor refugees, and most of the Jews who lived in the Campbell neighborhood emigrated afterward to Palestine. In the 1930s, 15,000�,000 Salonikan Jews immigrated to Ereẓ Israel, and some 15,000 emigrated to France, mostly to Paris, but also to Marseilles and Lyons. In 1935 there were nearly 60,000 Jews in Salonika, and in spite of the drop in Jewish population from the turn of the century and all the riots and fires, the Jews continued to maintain their status in the economic activity of the town. The coup dɾtat of Metaxas (1936) brought a change for the better in the lives of the Jews of Salonika.


J. Nehama, Histoire des Israélites de Salonique, 5 vols. (1935�) M. Molho and J. Nehama, In Memoriam Hommage aux victimes Juives des Nazis en Gr, 3 vols. (1948�) idem, Shoɺt Yehudei Yavan 1941� (1965) T.B. Ashkenazi, Saloniki ha-Yehudit, Ḥissulah shel Ir va-Em be-Yisrael, 1 (1960) Saloniki Ir va-Em be-Yisrael (1967) I.S. Emmanuel, Histoire des Israélites de Salonique (1936) idem, Gedolei Saloniki le-Dorotam (1936) idem, Histoire de l'Industrie des Tissus des Israélites de Salonique (1935) idem, Matzevot Saloniki, 2 vols. (1936�) Rosanes, Togarmah F. Doelger, in: Joshua Starr Memorial Volume (1953), 129� C. Roth, in: Yalkut ha-Mizraḥ ha-Tikhon, 2 (1950), 114𠄸 idem, in: Commentary, 10 (1950), 49� M. Molho, in: Sefarad, 9 (1949), 107� idem, in: Sinai, 28 (1951), 296� idem, in: Homenaje a Millás-Vallicrosa, 2 (1956), 73� I.R. Molho, Tor ha-Zahav be-Toledot Saloniki ba-Dorot ha-A𞉚ronim (1948) idem, in: Zion, 11 (1946), 150ff. I.R. Molho and A. Amarijlio, in: Sefunot, 2 (1958), 26� Scholem, Shabbetai Sevi, index idem, in: D.J. Silver (ed.), In the Time of Harvest (1963), 368� R. Hilberg, Destruction of the European Jews (1961), 442𠄸 A.E. Bakalopoulos, History of Thessalonika (1963) David ben Avraham Pipano, Hagor ha-Efod (1925). HEBREW PRINTING: Ḥ.D. Friedberg, Toledot ha-Defus ha-Ivri be-Italyah… (1956 2 ), 130� A. Elmaleh, in: Ha-Tor, 4 (1923𠄴), nos. 12ff also as: Le-Toledot ha-Yehudim be-Saloniki (1924) M.J. Covo, Etudes Saloniciennes (1928) J. Rivkind, in: KS, 1 (1924), 294� 3 (1926), 171𠄳 6 (1930), 383𠄵 A. Yaari, ibid., 7 (1931), 290� 16 (1940), 374�. ADD. BIBLIOGRAPHY: D. Benvenisti, Yehudei Salonika be-Dorot ha-A𞉚ronim (1973) R. Atal, Yahadut Yavan, mi-Gerush Sefarad ve-ad Yameinu, Bibliografiyah (1984), with later supplement Y. Kerem and B. Rivlin, "Salonika," in: Pinkas ha-Kehillot Yavan (1999), 217� A. Matkovski, A History of the Jews in Macedonia (1982), 58 M. Ben-Sasson et al. (eds.), Studies in a Rabbinic Family, the de Botons (1998) A. Nar, "Social Organization and Activity of the Jewish Community in Thessaloniki," in: I.K. Hassiotis (ed.), Queen of the Worthy, Thessaloniki, History, and Culture (1997), 266� Y. Kerem, "The Deunme: From Catholicism to Judaism to Islam," in: C. Meyers and N. Simms (eds.), Troubled Souls, Conversos, Crypto-Jews, and Other Confused Jewish Intellectuals from the Fourteenth through the Eighteenth Century (2001), 150� A. Nar, "The Jews of Thessaloniki March through Time," in: Justice (Spring 1999), 9� E. Benbassa and A. Rodrigue, Sephardi Jewry, A History of the Judeo-Spanish Community, 14 th � th Centuries, 81 S. Salem, "Portraits of Famous Jewish Lawyers and Jurists in Greece," in: Justice (Spring 1999), 14� Y. Kerem, "The Talmud Tora of Salonika A Multi-faceted Changing Institution from the 16 th Century Traditionalism until Modern Political Zionism," in: Aviva Doron (ed.), The Culture of Spanish Jewry, Proceedings of the First International Congress, Tel Aviv, 1𠄴 July 1991 (1994), 159� L. Bornstein-Makovestky, "Halakhic Literature in Salonika between 1750�," in: Ladinar II (2001), 15� (Hebrew) Y. Kerem, ȯorgotten Heroes: Greek Jewry in the Holocaust," in: M. Mor (ed.), Crisis and Reaction: The Hero in Jewish History (1995), 229� J.M. Landau, Tekinalp, Turkish Patriot (1984), index M. Mazower, Salonica… 1430� (2004) R.Lewkowicz, The Jewish Community of Salonika (2006).

Sources: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2008 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.

Byzantine times

After Constantinople was made the capital of the Byzantine Empire, Thessaloniki would progressively turn into the second largest city of the whole Empire. The population started to increase and trade was the main occupation of its residents. Unfortunately, a severe earthquake in 620 AD damaged the Roman market and many buildings. However, the city managed to recover in the decades to come. In the seventh century, the Slavs tried to occupy Thessaloniki but they failed. To prevent such an attack again, the Byzantines tried another strategy: the Byzantine Emperor Michael III sent the brothers Cyril and Methodius, who were born in Thessaloniki and later were declared saints of the Greek Orthodox Church, to teach the Slavs the Christian religion.

In 904 AD, the Saracen pirates of Crete attacked the city and took 22,000 people as slaves. In 1204, after the Crusaders had conquered Constantinople, they also conquered Thessaloniki. However, the Byzantines managed to gain it back in 1246. It is actually remarkable how Thessaloniki, through all this hassled period, managed to maintain a large population and flourishing commerce. The churches of that period, their frescoes and the scripts of some scholars illustrate an intellectual and artistic development.

Salonika---so what

About 30-40 years ago I first read Liddel-Hart's great book Strategy. I was intrigued by his assertion that the German collapse on the Western front was due not so much by the Allied use of tanks to pierce the German defenses as by the fact that on the same day Ludendorff received news of the great successes by the offensive in Salonika. Reinforcing this position I recently read a Military Heritage magazine article about the same offensive. Which stated that Ludendorff fell to the floor foaming at the mouth he was so distressed. Distressed enough in fact to call on the monarch to sue for peace.

What struck me at this late date was--SO WHAT. The Germans could have easily have retired to the Rhine. In 1918 that river would have presented an impenetrable barrier to being crossed. The Germans could have easily used their artillery to make any offensive impossible,

While originally thinking that Liddell-Hart meant that the success in Salonika meant that the Germans could have been assailed from the rear, I suddenly realized that such was not the case. In WWII the Balkans was not suited for tank warfare. Certainly in 1918 the same would have been true by several orders of magnitude.

What would have stopped the Germans from taking the majority of their troops off the Western defenses, moving into Russia, taking the Ukraine and assuring their food supply and waiting for the West to negotiate a peace.



Russia was out of the war by then.

Any fall back on the Western Front was 'defeat'. Plus moving a front of several million men back in tandem might present one or two challenges dont you think? Plus they had no food or anything, home or in the army.

Plus the Balkans paled into insignificance compared to the Western Front. Long way from Salonika to Germany


All scenarios assuming the German high command and minders of the war would in any way have been OK with a strategy based on the fundamental assumption of the Germans going in the defensive, holing up, fighting a protracted war in that stance in order to see what chestnuts they might eventually rake from the fire, misses the problem that what they wanted to do, and had all along assumed to do, was to go on the offensive, blast through the opposition, and end the war in glorious military victory. Huzzah!

What the break-down on the Salonika front, etc., signified was a process of gradual realization of the bitter truth that this just wasn't possible. German could not win. And not least Ludendorff clearly resisted this realization with every fiber of his being.

So while strategically sound, the idea that sometime preferably by 1917 the German GHQ start planning for a long, defensive German war, at the end of which looms not victory, but maybe some kind of negotiated peace with its adversaries, that didn't happen because it would have meant the likes of Ludendorff and Hindenburg already then giving up on the war as outright un-winable for Germany. And they were really loathe to do that.

Their greatest last hope was of course knocking Russia out – which they managed – and then that should lead to a one-two combo where in the next phase a massive German offensive on the western front won the war. Which was precisely what Germany tried. But then it didn't work. At which point Ludendorff had an honest to goodness breakdown (which he later strenuosly denied when writing his autobiography in Sweden) and Hindeburg had to overrule his chief of staff and start retreating troops in earnest. But then it was a bit too late, and Germany had largely spent the few things it still had going for it in early 1918.


Maybe not a defeat per se, but a realization AND recognition that the war was unwinable outright for Germany, and that while it could fight of for a while yet, it really would fall to the politicians to try to extricate Germany through negotiations.

But then THAT, a political process, was also kind of undercut by the way in which Hindenburg and Ludendorff had been allowed to form a military government. And that kind of government wasn't going to do anything as shoddy as politics. They were going to fight. and win. maybe.




Clemenceau can be forgiven for being overly harsh. The French were expecting the Americans to deploy to the Western Front much sooner than occurred. The Bulgarian army had good morale throughout the whole campaign, until that summer of 1918.

The under-reported aspect of the front was how well led the Bulgarian army was.

It seems there's evidence that the Germans made the decision several months prior to the breakthrough by the Franco-Serbian forces to cut back on loans to the Bulgarians. The desertion of the Bulgarians at the end seemed to happen because they hadn't been paid.



If you've ever read Liddel-Hart's book, he emphasizes that great strategy utilizes the indirect approach. As in Alexander after his first victory did not strike directly at the heart of Persia, instead he swept down the coast taking all the seaports followed by taking Egypt. Only after severing any contact between Persia and anything west of the east coast of the Med as well as preventing any collusion between Persia and Egypt. Only then did he strike at the heart of Persia.

If you apply this concept to WWI then the devastating collapse at Salonika would have opened up an entire new avenue to strike at Germany. BUT. Whether in fact it could/would have had enormous impact or absolutely none at all, it seems quite evident that it had a tremendous impact on Ludendorff. The chronology is pretty clear about receiving the news and almost immediately informing the Kaiser that he had no chance and he better find some way out. Conversely until that point he seems ready willing and able to formulate a new strategy of falling back and setting up a new defense line.

With all due respect to Goglais, I believe that in 1918 neither air power or counterbattery was sufficiently developed to accomplish a penetration of the Rhine. And to JohninCornwall moving a million men running away from a battle is easier than moving a million pursuers who by necessity cannot or (most probably) will not out run their supply line.

Therefore if you can move the overwhelming bulk of your army across the Rhine, expeditiously bring down all the bridges you would have a situation unlike the previous 3 years where you had a continuous trench line well over 1000 miles long requiring well north of 1 million men to defend, now you have several hundred miles (or probably a little less) to defend with only one or two tenths of the million soldiers now available. I would trust German artillery to be able to thwart any attempt to seriously cross a barrier as serious as the Rhine.

And I am well aware that the by then Russia was well out of the war. What I'm suggesting is seizing the Ukraine in order to access it's food supply. In fact force might not have been necessary. The Red's hold on power was so tenuous that they would probably agreed to almost anything rather than risking their hold on power. The additional manpower could have been sent to Italy and or Macedonia which again was not suitable for tank warfare and were not present anyway.

I'm not suggesting a miracle strategy to miraculously win the war for Germany. I'm trying to put forward a credible strategy for their being able to avoid the absolutely devastating catastrophe which the Treaty of Versailles ultimately became. It certainly would have prevented the second world war.

Having just a little time, Germany could have put on a diplomatic full press. Approach the Swiss, the Dutch, any of the Scandinavians, Spain, etc. with diplomatic overtures of peace. Make sure the world press knows you're suing for an end of hostilities, that you don't want any more of England or France's youth to be slaughtered. Approach Wilson and tell him you're willing to accept all or most of his POINTS. Therefore if/when you sign a new armistice, you do it with the leverage to insist that the blockade be immediately lifted, you are not required to blatantly lie and accept total responsibility for the war, you do not lose your ability to maintain an army, you do not have your country split in half, and most importantly you retain the ability to make the transformation from wartime to peace without the enormous social discord which in fact ensued.

Finally and I apologize for injecting an entirely new concept: how much longer could/would the war have continued had Adolph been magically transported into the Kaiser's brain.


Some scholars believed that Paul of Tarsus' First Epistle to the Thessalonians mentions Hellenized Jews in the city about 52 CE. This is based on certain interpretation of 1 Thessalonians 2:14 "For you, brethren, became imitators of the churches of God which are in Judea in Christ Jesus. For you also suffered the same things from your own countrymen, just as they did from the Judeans." (NKJV). Others believe that this Christian community consisted only of gentiles (pagans) and others that Jews were a small minority in that church of Thessalonike. The Greek word for "your own countrymen" in the original text is "συμφυλέται" (of the same tribe/race/nation). The interpretation of "συμφυλέται" as "Jews" is debated by many scholars. Also, there is no firm archaeological and other written evidence for the existence of a Jewish community in Thessaloniki during the 1st half of the 1st century AD. However, the existence of such a community is considered as very likely, even if its character is not known. [1] Researchers have not determined yet where the first Jews lived in the city. [2]

In 1170, Benjamin of Tudela reported that there were 500 Jews in Thessaloniki. In the following centuries, the native Romaniote community was joined by some Italian and Ashkenazi Jews. A small Jewish population lived here during the Byzantine period, but it left virtually no trace in documents or archeological artifacts. [3]

In 1430, the start of Ottoman domination, the Jewish population was still small. The Ottomans used population transfers within the empire following military conquests to achieve goals of border security or repopulation they called it Sürgün. Following the fall of Constantinople in 1453, an example of sürgün was the Ottomans' forcing Jews from the Balkans and Anatolia to relocate there, which they made the new capital of the Empire. [4] At the time, few Jews were left in Salonika none were recorded in the Ottoman census of 1478. [3]

Arrival of Sephardic Jews Edit

In 1492, the joint Catholic Monarchs of Spain Isabella I and Ferdinand II had promulgated the Alhambra Decree to expel Sephardic Jews from their domains. Many immigrated to Salonika, sometimes after a stop in Portugal or Italy. The Ottoman Empire granted protection to Jews as dhimmis and encouraged the newcomers to settle in its territories. According to the historians Rosamond McKitterick and Christopher Allmand, the Empire's invitation to the expelled Jews was a demographic strategy to prevent ethnic Greeks from dominating the city. [5]

The first Sephardim came in 1492 from Majorca. They were "repentant" returnees to Judaism after earlier forced conversion to Catholicism. [ citation needed ] In 1493, Jews from Castile and Sicily joined them. In subsequent years, other Jews came from those lands and also from Aragon, Naples, Venice and Provence. Later, in 1540 and 1560, Jews from Portugal sought refuge in Salonika in response to the political persecution of the marranos. In addition to these Sephardim, a few Ashkenazim arrived from Austria, Transylvania and Hungary. They were sometimes forcibly relocated under the Ottoman policy of "sürgün," following the conquest of land by Suleiman the Magnificent beginning in 1526. Salonika's registers indicate the presence of "Buda Jews" after the conquest of that city by the Turks in 1541. [3] [4] The Jewish population of the city was 20,000 in 1553. [6] Immigration was great enough that by 1519, the Jews represented 56% of the population and by 1613, 68%. [3]

Religious organization Edit

Each group of new arrivals founded its own community (aljama in Spanish), whose rites ("minhagim") differed from those of other communities. The synagogues cemented each group, and their names most often referred to the groups' origins. For example, Katallan Yashan (Old Catalan) was founded in 1492 and Katallan Hadash (New Catalonia) at the end of the 16th century. [4]

Name of synagogue Date of construction Name of synagogue Date of construction Name of synagogue Date of construction
Ets ha Chaim 1st century Apulia 1502 Yahia 1560
Ashkenaz or Varnak 1376 Lisbon Yashan 1510 Sicilia Hadash 1562
Mayorka 1391 Talmud Torah Hagadol 1520 Beit Aron 1575
Provincia 1394 Portugal 1525 Italia Hadash 1582
Italia Yashan 1423 Evora 1535 Mayorka Sheni 16th century
Guerush Sfarad 1492 Estrug 1535 Katallan Chadash 16th century
Kastilla 1492–3 Lisbon Chadash 1536 Italia Sheni 1606
Aragon 1492–3 Otranto 1537 Shalom 1606
Katallan Yashan 1492 Ishmael 1537 Har Gavoa 1663
Kalabria Yashan 1497 Tcina 1545 Mograbis 17th century [7]
Sicilia Yashan 1497 Nevei Tsedek 1550
Monastirlis 1927

A government institution called Talmud Torah Hagadol was introduced in 1520 to head all the congregations and make decisions (haskamot) that applied to all. It was administered by seven members with annual terms. This institution provided an educational program for young boys, and was a preparatory school for entry to yeshivot. It hosted hundreds of students. [8] In addition to Jewish studies, it taught humanities, Latin and Arabic, as well as medicine, the natural sciences and astronomy. [9] The yeshivot of Salonika were frequented by Jews from throughout the Ottoman Empire and even farther abroad there were students from Italy and Eastern Europe. After completing their studies, some students were appointed rabbis in the Jewish communities of the Empire and Europe, including cities such as Amsterdam and Venice. [8] The success of its educational institutions was such that there was no illiteracy among the Jews of Salonika. [9]

Economic activities Edit

The Sephardic population settled mainly in the major urban centers of the Ottoman Empire, which included Salonika. Unlike other major cities of the Empire, the Jews controlled trading in Salonika. Their economic power became so great that the shipping and businesses stopped on Saturday (Shabbat)—the Jewish sabbath. They traded with the rest of the Ottoman Empire, and the countries of Latin Venice and Genoa, and with all the Jewish communities scattered throughout the Mediterranean. One sign of the influence of Salonikan Jews on trading is in the 1556 boycott of the port of Ancona, Papal States, in response to the auto-da-fé issued by Paul IV against 25 marranos. [10]

Salonikan Jews were unique in their participation in all economic niches, not confining their business to a few sectors, as was the case where Jews were a minority. They were active in all levels of society, from porters to merchants. Salonika had a large number of Jewish fishermen, unmatched elsewhere, even in present-day Israel. [11]

The Jewish speciality was spinning wool. They imported technology from Spain where this craft was highly developed. The community made rapid decisions (haskamot) to require all congregations to regulate this industry. They forbade, under pain of excommunication (cherem), the export of wool and indigo to areas less than three days' travel from the city. [12] Salonikan sheets, blankets and carpets acquired a high profile and were exported throughout the empire from Istanbul to Alexandria through Smyrna. The industry spread to all localities close to the Thermaic Gulf.

This same activity became a matter of state when the Ottoman Sultan, Selim II, chose the Salonican Jews to be exclusive manufacturers of uniforms for the Ottoman Janissary troops. This made the city one of the most significant textile producers and exporters in the eastern Mediterranean. [13] His Sublime Porte issued a firman in 1576 forcing sheep raisers to provide their wool exclusively to the Jews to guarantee the adequacy of their supply. Other provisions strictly regulated the types of woollen production, production standards and deadlines. [12] Tons of woollen goods were transported by boat, camel and horse to Istanbul to cloak the janissaries against the approaching winter. Towards 1578, both sides agreed that the supply of wool would serve as sufficient payment by the State for cloth and replace the cash payment. This turned out to be disadvantageous for the Jews. [12]

Economic decline Edit

The increase in the number of Janissaries contributed to an increase in clothing orders putting Jews in a very difficult situation. [ citation needed ] Contributing to their problems were currency inflation concurrent with a state financial crisis.

Only 1,200 shipments were required initially. However, the orders surpassed 4,000 in 1620. [14] Financially challenged, the factories began cheating on quality. This was discovered. Rabbi Judah Covo at the head of a Salonican delegation was summoned to explain this deterioration in Istanbul and was sentenced to hang. This left a profound impression in Salonika. [14] Thereafter, applications of the Empire were partially reduced and reorganized production. [14]

These setbacks were heralds of a dark period for Salonican Jews. The flow of migrants from the Iberian Peninsula had gradually dried up. Jews favored such Western European cities as London, Amsterdam and Bordeaux. [14] This phenomenon led to a progressive estrangement of the Ottoman Sephardim from the West. Although the Jews had brought many new European technologies, including that of printing, they became less and less competitive against other ethno-religious groups. The earlier well-known Jewish doctors and translators were gradually replaced by their Christian counterparts, mostly Armenians and Greeks. In the world of trading, the Jews were supplanted by Western Christians, who were protected by the western powers through their consular bodies. [14] Salonika lost its pre-eminence following the phasing out of Venice, its commercial partner, and the rising power of the port of Smyrna. [14]

Moreover, the Jews, like other dhimmis, had to suffer the consequences of successive defeats of the Empire by the West. The city, strategically placed on a road travelled by armies, often saw retaliation by janissaries against "infidels." [14] Throughout the 17th century, there was migration of Jews from Salonika to Constantinople, Palestine, and especially Izmir. The Jewish community of Smyrna became composed of Salonikan émigrés. [14] Plague, along with other epidemics such as cholera, which arrived in Salonika in 1823, also contributed to the weakening of Salonika and its Jewish community. [14]

Western products, which began to appear in the East in large quantities in the early-to-mid-19th century, was a severe blow to the Salonikan economy, including the Jewish textile industry. The state eventually even began supplying janissaries with "Provencal clothing", which sold in low-priced lots, in preference to Salonican wools, whose quality had continued to deteriorate. [14] Short of cash, the Jews were forced into paying the grand vizier more than half of their taxes in the form of promissory notes. Textile production declined rapidly and then stopped with the abolition of the body of janissaries in 1826. [14]

Taxation Edit

Ottoman Jews were obliged to pay special "Jewish taxes" to the Ottoman authorities. These taxes included the Cizye, the İspençe, the Haraç, and the Rav akçesi ("rabbi tax"). Sometimes, local rulers would also levy taxes for themselves, in addition to the taxes sent to the central authorities in Constantinople.

Later Ottoman era Edit

Jewish Salonikans had long benefited from the contribution of each of the ideas and knowledge of the various waves of Sephardic immigration, but this human contribution more or less dried up by the 17th century, and sank into a pattern of significant decline. [15] The yeshivot were always busy teaching, but their output was very formalistic. They published books on religion, but these had little original thought. A witness reported that "outside it is always endless matters of worship and commercial law that absorb their attention and bear the brunt of their studies and their research. Their works are generally a restatement of their predecessors' writings." [15]

From the 15th century, a messianic current had developed in the Sephardic world the Redemption, marking the end of the world, which seemed imminent. This idea was fueled both by the economic decline of Salonika and the continued growth in Kabbalistic studies based on the Zohar booming in Salonican yeshivot. The end of time was announced successively in 1540 and 1568 and again in 1648 and 1666.

It is in this context that there arrived a young and brilliant Rabbi who had been expelled from nearby Smyrna: Sabbatai Zevi. Banned from this city in 1651 after proclaiming himself the messiah, [16] he came to Salonika, where his reputation as a scholar and Kabbalist grew very quickly. [15] The greatest numbers to follow him were members of the Shalom Synagogue, often former marranos. [15] After several years of caution, he again caused a scandal when, during a solemn banquet in the courtyard of the Shalom Synagogue, he pronounced the Tetragrammaton, ineffable in Jewish tradition, and introduced himself as the Messiah son of King David. [15] The federal rabbinical council then drove him from the city, but Sabbatai Zevi went to disseminate his doctrine in other cities around the Sephardic world. His passage divided, as it did everywhere, Thessaloniki's Jewish community, and this situation caused so much turmoil that Sabbatai Zevi was summoned and imprisoned by the sultan. There, rather than prove his supernatural powers, he relented under fire, and instead converted to Islam. The dramatic turn of events was interpreted in various ways by his followers, the Sabbateans. Some saw this as a sign and converted themselves, while others rejected his doctrine and returned to Judaism. Some, though, remained publicly faithful to Judaism while continuing to secretly follow the teachings of Sabbatai Zevi. [15] In Salonika, there were 300 families among the richest who decided in 1686 to embrace Islam before the rabbinical authorities could react, their conversion already having been happily accepted by the Ottoman authorities. [15] Therefore, those that the Turks gave the surname "Dönme," ("renegades") themselves divided into three groups: Izmirlis, Kuniosos and Yacoubi, [17] forming a new component of the Salonikan ethno-religious mosaic. Although they chose conversion, they did not assimilate with the Turks, practicing strict endogamy, living in separate quarters, building their own mosques and maintaining a specific liturgy in their language. [16] They participated in the 19th century in the spread of modernist ideas in the empire. [17] Then, as Turks, the Donme emigrated from the city following the assumption of power by the Greeks. [17]

Supplemental presentation to use in class

Today, Salonika is the second largest city in Greece, home to roughly 4,500 Jews, 0.05% of the total Greek population. However, the population was not always so meagre. Before 1942, Greece was the hub of European Jewry, a center for Torah learning attracting students from all over the world. The first Jews were thought to have settled in Greece over 2,000 years ago and as time passed the community thrived and expanded.
After living under various rulers for over one thousand years, the arrival of the Ottoman Empire in Greece in 1430 improved life for the Jews of Salonika. The Turks lifted taxes and removed bans that had been placed on them by previous Venetian rulers. In 1492, when Spanish monarchs Ferdinand and Isabella, expelled Jews from their kingdom, these refugees were able to enter Greece uninhibited. Greatly influenced by the large influx of Sephardic and Converso Jews, a rich Jewish culture flourished.
The Jewish communities that existed from the Turkish regime until the Greek Conquest in 1912 were notable for their stable economy, their rich religious and cultural tradition, and their flourishing communal leadership. The Jews in the southern areas that had lived for a long period under the Greeks had become more assimilated into the general population, and used Greek as their daily language. Their relations with their Greek neighbors were good until the rise of Greek nationalism in the late 19th century.
On the eve of World War II, approximately 80,000 Jews lived in Greece, residing in 31 localities. In 1945, the Jews of Greece numbered only 10,000. 87% of Greek Jews were murdered in the Holocaust.

Today, Salonika is the second largest city in Greece, home to roughly 4,500 Jews, 0.05% of the total Greek population. However, the population was not always so meagre. Before 1942, Greece was the hub of European Jewry, a center for Torah learning attracting students from all over the world. The first Jews were thought to have settled in Greece over 2,000 years ago and as time passed the community thrived and expanded.
After living under various rulers for over one thousand years, the arrival of the Ottoman Empire in Greece in 1430 improved life for the Jews of Salonika. The Turks lifted taxes and removed bans that had been placed on them by previous Venetian rulers. In 1492, when Spanish monarchs Ferdinand and Isabella, expelled Jews from their kingdom, these refugees were able to enter Greece uninhibited. Greatly influenced by the large influx of Sephardic and Converso Jews, a rich Jewish culture flourished.
The Jewish communities that existed from the Turkish regime until the Greek Conquest in 1912 were notable for their stable economy, their rich religious and cultural tradition, and their flourishing communal leadership. The Jews in the southern areas that had lived for a long period under the Greeks had become more assimilated into the general population, and used Greek as their daily language. Their relations with their Greek neighbors were good until the rise of Greek nationalism in the late 19th century.
On the eve of World War II, approximately 80,000 Jews lived in Greece, residing in 31 localities. In 1945, the Jews of Greece numbered only 10,000. 87% of Greek Jews were murdered in the Holocaust.

Salonika Jews Sponsor Trial Of Collaborators

To the Commissioner of the Special Court for judging persons guilty of cooperation with the Germans.

LAWSUIT submitted by the Jewish Community of Salonika, represented legally by their President, Haim Moise Salitiel, resident of Salonika, on Vassilion Ireklion Street No. 24

1) Hirs Sevy Koretz, of unknown residence
2) Solomon Ouziel, merchant
3) Jack Albala, unemployed
4) Vital Hasson, taylor
5) Edgard Cunic, temporarily staying in Athens
6) Leon Sion, or Topouz, rag-picker
7) Albert Castro, photographer
8) Sack Max, unemployed
9) Yoel Groufter, unemployed
10) Ezra Barsilay, merchant
11) Joseph Hasson, merchant
12) Isaac Hasson, merchant
13) Joseph Errera, private employee
14) Gitta Koretz, house-keeper
15) Laura, wife of Jack Albala
16) Ida Jack, house-keeper
17) Moise Castro, private employee
18) Mathilde Yoel
19) Abram Benroudi
20) Djoya Hasson
21) Rebecca Benroudi
22) Louna Hasson
23) Alphonse Levy
24) Sol, wife of Alphonse Levy
25) Rosa Levy
26) Issac Beraha
27) Estrea Beraha
28) Valeria Saltiel
29) Nina Saltiel
30) Susy Saltiel
31) Derio Saltiel
32) Abram Seiaky
33) Reya Seiaky
34) Salomon Seiaky
35) David Menache
36) Marietta Menache
37) Issac Menache
38) Saoul Menache
39) Lida Errera
40) Haim Jack
41) Ida Jack
42) Leo Koretz
43) Lily Koretz
44) Paula Cohen
45) Julia Sarfatti
46) Bella Barzilay
47) Reyns Barzilay
48) Ida Ouziel
49) Marcel Ouziel
50) Daisy Castro
51) Fortunee Castro
52) Moise Castro
53) Rena Castro
54) Daniel Solomon
55) Plata Castro

Salonika, September 11, 1945.

Minutes of Special Meeting of the Board of the Jewish Community of Salonika, Held on Tuesday, September 11, 1945

The Board of the Jewish Community of Salonika held a special meeting today, Tuesday, September 11, 1945, at 3.00 p.m. in order to discuss the measures to be taken following the arrival at Sidirocastro of 53 persons from the concentration camp of Bergen-Belsen, where they were sent, through special privilege, by the Germans in 1943. Some of these people have to account for their close cooperation with the Rosenberg Commission, which was responsible for the persecution and deportation of the Jews others have to explain their behavior as members of the Communal Council or of communal committees during the deportation period and generally, all have to explain the special favor which the Germans granted them by sending them to a concentration camp considered to be of a privileged nature instead of sending them to the concentration camps and crematoria located in Poland.

The return of these persons has caused a tremendous uproar amongst the Jewish population of Salonika [. ] After hearing the advice of those who attended the meeting, the following decisions were agreed upon unanimously:

Castro Albert
Albala Jacques
Sack Max
Barzilay Ezra
Uziel Salomon
Yoel Groufred
Koretz Gitta
Albala Lora
Sion Leon (Topouz)
Hasson Joseph
Hasson Issac
Errera Joseph
Jack Ida
Sion Buena
Castro Moise
Yoel Mathilde

will have to appear before the court. Some of them have manifestly cooperated with the Germans. Others, having been members of the Communal Council or of communal committees, or having been closely related to the principal accused parties, have to account for their direct or indirect actions during the deportation.

2) All the other persons (children excluded) whose sole indictment for the time being is that of having enjoyed the favor of the Germans, have to appear before the court and explain what prompted this special favor (since it is a well known fact that the Germans never granted anything to those who did not, in turn, serve them, still less where Jews were concerned). They must also give details regarding the conduct of the 16 accused parties listed above.

3) A notice will be posted in the offices of the Jewish Community inviting all those who have to depose against the 53 persons mentioned above to proceed immediately in the necessary formalities by bringing the required data to the relevant departments in the Community building. This data will complement the existing depositions.

4) The Legal Advisors, Messrs. Sam Nahmias and Rofel Cohen, are requested to file the necessary depositions with the Public Prosecutor. An accusation will likewise be filed with the Prosecutor against Vital Hasson and Edgard Cunic, whose generally acknowledged cooperation with the Germans is particularly disgusting. Both of them are now in Athens the former is in preventive detention, and the latter is still free.

On behalf of the Communal Council,
Haim Saltiel.

In January 1943, the Rosenberg Commission, consisting of a small number of German officers and soldiers belonging to the infamous SD GESTAPO, arrived in Salonika specifically for the purpose of persecuting the Jews. The Commission's purpose was to capture en masse all of the Jews of Salonika, to deport them to Poland, and generally to exterminate them and to appropriate all of their property. To achieve this objective, the Commission approached all low-class people in Salonika who were willing to serve and assist them in exchange for various forms of remuneration. The Commission asked for the assistance of the first 18 persons in the above list, who had willingly placed themselves under its orders. They thus became organs of the occupier and consciously contributed to the execution of a crime the likes of which has not been witnessed in human history. The first one accused, H. Koretz, who, as chief Rabbi and spiritual leader of the Jews of Salonika, had considerable influence on his flock, obtained an order from the Rosenberg Commission to be appointed president of the Jewish Community of Salonika. In addition to his religious duties, he also invested himself with political authority. With the assistance of those engaged by the Germans upon his suggestion, he began carrying out faithfully the orders of the Commission, even though he knew that he was assisting in the systematic destruction and extermination of the Jews of Salonika. Among those engaged by him were Solomon Ouziel and Jack Albala, liaison for the Chief Rabbi and President to the Rosenberg Commission, and later, also to the Town Civil Police Chief. In the course of this mission and under the leadership of Vital Hasson, the remaining 15 accused placed themselves under the orders of the S.D. GESTAPO SERVICE, which supplied them with authority to execute any unjust act of violence against any Jew or Greek Christian who assisted the Jews. Under the protection of the first 3 leaders and the immediate orders of the S.D., this gang of 15 thugs quickly took a census, concentrated 43,000 Jews in special closed quarters (Ghettos), and then captured and imprisoned them in the BARON HIRSCH concentration camp, from whence they were deported to death camps in Poland. They did this in a way that provoked terror and abhorrence throughout the whole country. But the capture and deportation were not the sole actions of this Commission. Before deportation, those who were to be deported were stripped of all possessions and were left naked. For this special task, Vital Hasson, Edgard Cunic and Leon Sion (Topouz) offered their services, thus becoming the absolute masters of the Baron Hirsch Concentration Camp. They arrested any Jew who according to their judgment might have hidden money or other precious objects. In some instances, in order to force them to reveal the persons to whom they had entrusted their property, the accused treated those Jews so cruelly that they were on the brink of death. These barbarians had substituted and surpassed the occupier in their savageness, thus turning the Baron Hirsch Concentration Camp into a place of martyrdom for any Jew who was suspected of having hidden money or other property. Furthermore, they converted this Camp into a place of orgies: together with the Germans, they violated any Jewish woman or girl in the presence of her parents and co-religionists to the shock of all concerned. The remaining 18 accused were also involved in this action: Albert Castro engaged and favored in various ways by the Gestapo service Mr Sack Max and Yoel Groufter, treacherous Jews from Poland, were engaged […] by the Germans in the service of the Jewish Community of Salonika with the object of espionage and preparation of extermination work […] S. Barzilay, I. Hasson, I. Errera, G. Koretz, L. Albala, I. Jack, M. Castro, M. Yoel, in remuneration for their services to the Germans, were spared the suffering experienced by other Jews by having the privilege of being transported to the Bergen-Belsen Concentration Camp, where only those who had offered

important services to the Germans could stay. There, their lives were not threatened, and they had everything in abundance, while their co-religionists and the victims of their criminal acts were being gassed and burned in the crematoria, or were dying en masse […] in Poland. They had all kinds of pleasures at their disposal, even sexual enjoyment, as is evident by the fact that children were born in that camp. The remaining 37 persons accused also enjoyed this privileged position, having also been transported to the privileged Bergen-Belsen Concentration Camp. They were evidently given this privilege in exchange for services rendered to the occupier during the deportation of the Jews it is known, after all, that Germans never give anything to anyone, and especially to Jews, without something in return.

As the above actions are punished by Clause 1, par. D.E. St. and Clause 4 of Legislative Act No. 6 of the year 1945, re sanctions to be imposed on those having cooperated with the enemy, as completed and modified by Act No. 12 of the year 1945 in Clause 88, 27 and 307 of the Penal Law in combination with Clause 56 of Penal Law

we submit a lawsuit against them and ask that they be punished according to the law. The proposed witnesses are:

1) Issac Matarasso, doctor, Tsimiski street No. 93
2) Mentach Melho, landowner, Vassileos Iraklion No. 6
3) Joseph Amariglio, merchant Stoa Allatini
4) Victor Almosnino, merchant, Paraskevopoulos 16
5) Salvator Cunic, merchant, Vassileos Constantinos 17
6) Salomon A. Maissa, doctor, Vassileou Iraklion 24
7) David Jacob Bitran, merchant, Vassil. Trakliou 24
8) Levy Avram Allalouf, merchant, Vassil. Iraklion 24.

Salonika---so what

Ludendorff was probably considering other factors beside Salonika. At the same time that Bulgaria was collapsing, the Ottomans and the Austro-Hungarians were also tottering on the brink. I don't know how much Ludendorff knew about Romania reentering the war on the Allied side. Germany was not in good shape either. Ludendorff saw everything unraveling. He was not in the best mental place personally either, still grieving for his dead son. I don't think Salonika did in Ludendorff all by itself. It was the overwhelming combination of everything. Salonika was just the last straw.

What was Liddell Hart's view on Gallipoli? If he thought Salonika was decisive he must have thought Gallipoli had equal potential. In terms of stripping away Germany's allies and resources, I can see potential, but in terms of Allied armies marching up the Danube and making a right turn toward Berlin, it's too far fetched. The logistics alone would prevent it.


Ludendorff was probably considering other factors beside Salonika. At the same time that Bulgaria was collapsing, the Ottomans and the Austro-Hungarians were also tottering on the brink. I don't know how much Ludendorff knew about Romania reentering the war on the Allied side. Germany was not in good shape either. Ludendorff saw everything unraveling. He was not in the best mental place personally either, still grieving for his dead son. I don't think Salonika did in Ludendorff all by itself. It was the overwhelming combination of everything. Salonika was just the last straw.

What was Liddell Hart's view on Gallipoli? If he thought Salonika was decisive he must have thought Gallipoli had equal potential. In terms of stripping away Germany's allies and resources, I can see potential, but in terms of Allied armies marching up the Danube and making a right turn toward Berlin, it's too far fetched. The logistics alone would prevent it.

The Salonika campaign

The sea was full of soldiers struggling for bits of raft and wreckage. We were swamped again and again until we were exhausted. It was pitiful to see nurses and soldiers tiring in frantic struggles, finally releasing their grasp on the gunwale, floating for a few seconds, and then slowly sinking without a murmur.

Unidentified NZ nurse, Marlborough Express, 24 November 1915

The New Zealand Expeditionary Force (NZEF) provided no combat units for the campaign in Salonika. The official contribution of New Zealanders was brief but marked by tragedy.

On 19 October 1915, No. 1 New Zealand Stationary Hospital left Egypt aboard the troopship Marquette along with British Army units. Medical units were often conveyed by hospital ships which displayed the international symbol of the Red Cross. Shortage of shipping meant the New Zealanders were sailing on a normal army transport ship, a valid target for enemy submarines, which were taking a toll of Allied shipping in the Eastern Mediterranean.

Masseydonian Stretcher

The Masseydonian Stretcher was the monthly journal of the No. 1 New Zealand Stationary Hospital. Published under the motto ‘always merry and bright’, the May 1916 issue provided details of the unit’s adventures in Salonika, including this 'musing' about the weather in north-east Greece:

First came the rain, then came the mud,
A deluge first, and then a flood
Then came the snow with chilling breath
And stillness like the sleep of death.
A fog us then enveloped round
For four long weeks no sun was found.
Our little creek was frozen o’er But worse than that was yet in store
For a blizzard came from the Vardar,
Fast fell the snow, the ice froze harder
And then we longed with all our might
For Egypt’s sun, and warmth, and light.

Changing course frequently to avoid the enemy, the Marquette appeared safe. Then, on the morning of 23 October, as it entered the Gulf of Salonika, it was torpedoed. The ship sank in just ten minutes and 167 souls out of 741 were lost. Thirty-two staff of the hospital died, including ten nurses, several when another lifeboat fell onto the one in which they were sitting. Others spent hours in the water clinging to wreckage in a horrific test of endurance. The survivors were taken to Salonika and began setting up the hospital despite having lost their equipment. Because of the fraught political situation in Greece, the surviving nurses were sent back to Egypt within a week on a Royal Navy ship.

The sinking of the Marquette caused outrage and some bitterness in New Zealand, particularly as a hospital ship had left Port Said the same day as the troopship. The British authorities later agreed to avoid any risk of a repeat of the tragedy. The loss of the nurses was felt most keenly, and was one of the reasons for the foundation and dedication of a Nurses Chapel at Christchurch hospital in 1927. Those who died or remained missing are also commemorated at Mikra British Cemetery, near Salonika and not far from where some of the bodies were washed ashore.

The survivors set up a tent hospital at Lembet Camp, the bleak and windswept main base for the British forces in Salonika. During November the first cases came in, mostly soldiers of the 10th (Irish) Division who were fresh from Gallipoli and lightly clothed. Frostbite and trench foot were the most common conditions treated, along with a few battle casualties from the fighting in Serbia. Diseases such as typhoid, dysentery and trench fever were also common. Salonika was also home to many refugees who had been displaced during the recent Balkan Wars and the New Zealanders treated many of these civilians. The camp was bombed by enemy aircraft in December 1915, causing alarm – and worse, a large quantity of gift material sent from New Zealand to raise morale was destroyed by a fire.

Despite these setbacks, the morale and reputation of the unit remained high. On 3 March 1916, the unit was relieved by No. 1 Canadian Stationary Hospital. The New Zealanders returned to Egypt having done much valuable work during their 3½ months in Greece at a difficult time for the British Salonika Force.

A few individual members of the NZEF also served in Greece in specialised roles. These included Canterbury artist and teacher Colin Lovell-Smith, who was serving as a sapper in the Royal New Zealand Engineers. He was awarded the White Eagle of Serbia for his work on attachment to the British Army in early 1916 assisting with the surveying and mapping of the region.

Watch the video: Salonika