While the vast majority of Holocaust victims were Ashkenazim, Sephardim from the Balkans, Greece and Bulgaria were also deported to Nazi death camps. For the first time, this year’s commemoration of the Holocaust focuses on the plight of Greek Jewry. Israel National News reports:
The Nazis arrive in Salonika
On Holocaust Memorial Day (Yom Hashoah), Thursday, May 2, more than 10,000 Jewish and non-Jewish youth from 40 countries and dozens of Holocaust survivors and dignitaries from around the world participated in the 31st annual International March of the Living, the three-kilometer march from Auschwitz to Birkenau, to pay tribute to all victims of the Holocaust and call for an end to anti-Semitism.
This year, for the first time, the event’s main ceremony will honor Greek Jewry, which was almost completely annihilated by the Nazis and their collaborators.
Alan Rosenbaum in The Jerusalem Post traces the history of Greek Jewry (with thanks: Imre):
Greif explains that the rate of death within Greek Jewry was among the highest in the Holocaust, “because the Germans used their repertoire of deceit efficiently and hid their murderous intentions.” In addition, he says, the Greek Jews were led by Rabbi Zvi Koretz, the head of the Jewish council, who was naïve, and thought that cooperating with the German authorities would improve their situation. Because he was so obedient, says Greif, one transport followed another until April 1944.