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I plan to collect historical documents and articles by various authors in this blog, usually without comments. Opinions expressed within the articles belong to the authors and do not always coincide with those of mine.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Greek Efforts to Decimate the Jewish Population of Salonica

Quotes from Professor Stanford J. Shaw, 'The Jews of the Ottoman Empire and the Turkish Republic,' New York University Press, New York (1991).

Page 205:

Those Jews who survived these assaults in Southeastern Europe fled particularly to Salonica, whose Jewish population increased substantially as a result, from 28,000 in 1876 to 90,000 in 1908, more than half the total population, though even there increased persecution by local Greeks led many Jews to flee elsewhere in the Ottoman Empire, particularly to the great port of Izmir. Despite all the pressure from Ottomans and foreign Jews alike, the ritual murders and other assaults by Christians on Jews went on and on. Greek efforts to decimate the Jewish population of Salonica culminated in 1912 and 1913, following Greek conquest of Salonica during the first Balkan War, when many of its Jews, were either killed or terrorized into leaving...

page 206:

Though Greece was obligated by the post World War I treaties to allow Jews and other minorities to use their own languages in education and to practice their religions without hindrance, a law was issued in 1923 which forbad all inhabitants from working on Sunday, stimulating a new Jewish exodus as it was intended to do. Between 1932 and 1934 there was a series of anti-Semitic riots in Salonica, with the Cambel quarter, where most of the remaining Jews lived, being burned to the ground. This was followed by regulations requiring the use of Greek and prohibiting Hebrew and Judea-Spanish in the Jewish schools. A start was made also on expropriating the land of the principal Jewish cemetery in Salonica for use by the new University in order to derive the Jews out [47]. By killing and driving out large numbers of Jews, the Greeks left a substantial Greek majority in the city for the first time, and starting Salonica Jewry on the way to its final decimation by the Nazis during the occupation of Greece starting in 1941.

Salonica and Izmir of course were not the only places of refuge for Jewish refugees entering the Empire during its last century of existence. Istanbul, Edirne, and other parts of Rumelia and Anatolia received thousands more. Nor were Jews the only refugees received and helped by the government of the Sultan. Thousands of Muslims accompanied them in flight from similar persecutions wherever Balkan christian states gained independence or expanded. The Russian conquest of the Crimea and the Caucasus starting in the late eighteenth century, and particularly during and after the Crimean War, combined with the same independence movements in Southeastern Europe that had caused so much suffering and flight among its Jews caused thousands of helpless, ill, and poverty-stricken Muslim refugees to accompany them into the ever shrinking boundaries of the Ottoman Empire, with the Istanbul government struggling mightly but vainly to house and feed them as best it could. From 1850 to 1864 as many as 800,000 Crimean Tatars, Circassians, and other Muslims from north and east of the Black Sea had entered Anatolia alone, as many as 200,000 more came during the next twenty years, while 474,389 refugees entered in 1876-1877 as a result of the Ottoman wars with Russia and the Balkan states, with an equal number gaining refuge in the European portions of the Empire.

[47] Robert Mantran, 'La structure sociale de la communaute juive de Salonqiue a la fin du dix-neuvieme siecle', RH no.534 (1980), 391-92; Nehama VII, 762; Joseph Nehama (Salonica) to AIU (Paris) no.2868/2, 12 May 1903 (AIU Archives I-C-43); and no.2775, 10 January 1900 (AIU
Archives I-C-41), describing daily battles between Jewish and Greek children in the streets of Salonica. Benghiat, Director of Ecole Moise Allatini, Salonica, to AIU (Paris), no.7784, 1 December 1909 (AIU Archives I-C-48), describing Greek attacks on Jews, boycotts of Jewish shops and manufacturers, and Greek press campaigns leading to blood libel attacks. Cohen, Ecole Secondaire Moise Allatini, Salonica, to AIU (Paris), no.7745/4, 4 December 1912 (AIU Archives I-C-49) describes a week of terror that followed the Greek army occupation of Salonica in 1912, with the soldiers pillaging the Jewish quarters and destroying Jewish synagogues, accompanied by what he described as an 'explosion of hatred' by local Greek population against local Jews and Muslims. Mizrahi, President of the AIU at Salonica, reported to the AIU (Paris), no.2704/3, 25 July 1913 (AIU Archives I-C-51) that 'It was not only the irregulars (Comitadjis) that massacred, pillaged and burned. The Army soldiers, the Chief of Police, and the high civil officials also took an active part in the horrors...', Moise Tovi (Salonica) to AIU (Paris) no.3027 (20 August 1913) (AIU Archives I-C-51) describes the Greek pillage of the Jewish quarter during the night of 18-19 August 1913.

Prepared by: Murat Yazıcı

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