- Thessaloniki in its splendor
- The German occupation, starvation, oppression and expulsion
- The deportation to the death camps and life there
- Return to Thessaloniki
Τετάρτη, 6 Μαρτίου 2013
exhibition Salonika: the flower of the Balkans
Thessaloniki “Flower of the Balkans”
Between Prominence and Holocaust
Thessaloniki “Flower of the Balkans” -the capital of the Sephardi Jews from the expulsion from Spain in 1492 until the Holocaust in 1942- was a symbol and the center of the Ladino (Judaeo-Spanish) speaking world. For some 450 years Thessaloniki was a vibrant Sephardi-Jewish urban metropolis.
The Jews of Thessaloniki were very faithful to Jewish tradition, but at the same time integrated into the local society, contributing their talents and developing intercultural relations with the Islamic Ottoman and the Christian Greek societies.
Thessaloniki was a city full of life, tolerant and cosmopolitan, whose Jewish Community was almost completely wiped out when the Germans invaded and deported the Jews to the death camps in faraway Poland.
Sephardi-Jewish spiritual and cultural treasures, along with much of the Jewish property were lost with the deportation of the Jews of Thessaloniki to the death camps.
While Jews were being sent to Poland in death carriages, their homes and personal property were abandoned. Religious articles and ancient libraries, including the finest Ladino literature, were piled onto trucks and sent to Germany. Synagogues were razed, Jewish neighborhoods were destroyed and the headstones from the ancient Jewish cemetery were used as cheap paving stones for sidewalks, roads and even reservoirs. Later, the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki would be built over the cemetery.
When British troops landed in Greece in October 1944 and the Germans withdrew, Thessaloniki remained a wasteland, destroyed and emptied of its Jews. Only about 2,000 survivors were left from the prominent Jewish community that numbered 80,000 people on the eve of the War.
The exhibition tells the story of Thessaloniki and its Jewish community in four chapters: