The Agony of Greek Jews, 1940-1945

The Agony of Greek Jews, 1940-1945

The Agony of Greek Jews, 1940-1945

The Agony of Greek Jews, 1940-1945

Synopsis

The Agony of Greek Jews tells the story of modern Greek Jewry as it came under the control of the Kingdom of Greece during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. In particular, it deals with the vicissitudes of those Jews who held Greek citizenship during the interwar and wartime periods. Individual chapters address the participation of Greek and Palestinian Jews in the 1941 fighting with Italy and Germany, the roles of Jews in the Greek Resistance, aid, and rescue attempts, and the problems faced by Jews who returned from the camps and the mountains in the aftermath of the German retreat. Bowman focuses on the fate of one minority group of Greek citizens during the war and explores various aspects of its relations with the conquerors, the conquered, and concerned bystanders. His book contains new archival material and interviews with survivors. It supersedes much of the general literature on the subject of Greek Jewry.

Excerpt

Contrary to scholarly and popular perceptions, it should be emphasized that the destruction of the Sephardi metropolis in Salonika, a city that had earned the sobriquets “Jerusalem of the Balkans” and “Madre de Israel,” was so devastating that even two generations after the war a new center for the Sephardim and their widespread diaspora has not appeared. Moreover, the political broadening of the term Sephardi in Israel and among scholarly and philanthropic organizations through the inclusion of all non-Ashkenazi Jews under its rubric signals both dilution and perhaps even dissolution of that proud heritage. Not even the emergence of regional scholarly and cultural centers dedicated to the Sephardim and their heritage has yet been able to generate any new creative dynamics to stimulate and develop this heritage. Perhaps two generations is not yet enough time to mourn the loss of a “mother city.” It took more than a century after the destruction of the Temple and Jerusalem in 70 ce to rejuvenate Jews with a new leadership and Judaism with the mishnah. the task of this generation is to sustain the survivors and teach their progeny until a new spirit arises from the children of that great Jewish metropolis.

A project on this subject can never be considered finished, not even after all the dead and the living have been accounted for and their various vicissitudes chronicled and explained. Then the task will be to integrate this material into the history of Greece, not as a separate chapter but rather as an integral part of the multifaceted prism that constitutes Greek history and culture. the time is overdue to bring forth this study to the public. Indeed, too many of the fifty- and sixty-year seminal anniversaries have already past: 1992, 1993, 1994, 1995, 1998, 2003, 2005. Perhaps 2008 will have a resonance to survivors and their kin.

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