German Report on Jews Trying to Escape to Italian-Occupied Greece

(April 26, 1943)


Department of Military Administration
MV 2165/43 geh [secret] Dr.Me

26. 4. 43.

S e c r e t !

To the
German General Consulate
Salonika

Re: The crossing of Jews of Italian nationality over the border to southern Greece into Italian-occupied territory.

Reference: Consultation between General Consul Schoenberg and the undersigned, today.

Today, at 11.45, the undersigned was informed by telephone by SS-Hauptsturmfuehrer Brunner that an Italian holiday train was standing at the Central Station of Salonika, with approximately 20 Jews aboard, who were obviously trying to escape from the German sphere of influence in this way. Shortly afterwards, corroborating reports were given by the Salonika Station Officer, as well as by the Salonika Transport Command [Transportkommandantur] – Captain [Hauptmann] Hahn. Finally, some time later, the local General Consul of Italy, Zamboni, complained by telephone that Italian nationals, in spite of their being equipped with all the necessary documents, were being hindered in leaving Salonika; the indisputable principle in this matter was [according to Zamboni] that Italian citizens need to be equipped with only an Italian transit permit and are not required to possess a special German permit [Erlaubnisschein]. Without delay, the undersigned – who had already informed SS-Hauptsturmfuehrer Brunner of the matter – went personally to the Central Station of Salonika, where he established the following:

A total number of 18 Jews (men, women, and children) wanted to cross the border in the Italian holiday train, which left here for Athens today. The papers of 13 Jews were in order; they possessed permits which had been properly issued; they were also able to show properly issued passports [Staatsangehoerigkeitsausweise], which could be confirmed by the fact that the corresponding Greek documents (issued by the Alien Police [Fremdenpolizei]) could be produced as well. Permission to leave for Athens was immediately granted to these 13 Jews. The following Jews were prohibited from leaving: a certain Daniel Modiano, who was in fact able to prove his Italian nationality but against whom legal proceedings were intitiated at the G.F.P. 621 [Greek Alien Police], because - and this has already been proven - he had accepted gold from Greek Jews, believing that he would be able to evade German authorities in this way. It has repeatedly been pointed out that this kind of behavior is considered a punishable offence. The legal proceedings against the above-mentioned were initiated with the consent [of the G.F.P. 621]. Modiano's wife stayed here of her own free will when she learned that her husband was not allowed to leave. Their common children (a boy and a girl) did leave on the train for Athens. Furthermore, permission to leave was denied to a Jew named Sam Navarro, as well as to his wife and to her mother, who was allegedly ill and had first tried to hide in another part of the holiday train. N. is an alleged Italian who obviously was made into an Italian national following the measures against the Jews. According to the documents of the Greek Alien Police, he is a Greek citizen; when the Italian Jews were first registered, he did not sign up as one [Italian citizen], but rather was registered as such only belatedly. The [Italian] Jews were allowed to go to their apartments; the documents were handed over by the Military Police to the Salonika Local Command [Ortskommandantur], who is going to send them here by special delivery. In all deliberations, the liaison officer of the General Consul of Italy, Captain Nerei [(?) name illegible], was present; he soon acknowledged the necessity of the steps that had been taken. The Italian officers of the holiday train expressed disapproval [of the steps], first harshly and later more mildly. They tried at first to support the Jews in their alleged request for preferential treatment; later, they kept a relatively low profile.

The General Consul of Italy was called on directly from the station and was informed about the entire affair; he explicitly agreed to all the measures that had been taken. The opportunity was used – in accordance with the instructions of the Foreign Office - to determine when Sam Navarro supposedly acquired Italian citizenship. The name Navarro could not even be found in the table of contents of the Consulates register; the General Consul of Italy promised that he would submit the necessary details in the course of the following days. All the same, the fact that there were open numbers [numbers with no corresponding names] in the Consulates register attracted attention. The suspicion that belated registrations are perhaps made here cannot be completely dismissed. In conversation, General Consul Zamboni again emphasized – as he had done in an earlier conversation – that Italian influence in Macedonia had to a great extent been based on the Jewish element and that the Italian state had therefore a strong interest in keeping the existing Jews as an Italian element. After the consultation with General Consul Zamboni, I called on the local station.

Further information will be given about the progress of this affair.

On behalf of the Commander of Salonika – Aegean

The Chief of Staff
signed Dr. [M]erten

War Administrative Council [Kriegsverwaltungsrat]

------

Copy
to the Foreign Office
B e r l i n
forwarded subsequently to telegram no. 37 of today

Salonika, April 27, 1943.

[signed: Schoenberg]


Source: Yad Vashem