Jews in Salonica

(November 11, 1943)


OFFICE OF STRATEGIC SERVICES

Reports on Greece

Report No. 107942
November 16, 1943

SUBJECT: Military and political affairs.

All the Jews who were still in Salonica-most of them working in the port and at the station, and living in labor camps without any contact with the population, have been sent away from Salonica, probably to Poland. Jews from Volos and Athens who were concentrated at a camp at Asvestochori, a few miles from Salonica, have also been sent toward central Europe. All the property of the Jewish community of Salonica is managed by the Bank of Salonica, formerly a Jewish bank but taken over by the Germans since 1941, and now subordinate to the Reichsbank.

New military zones have been created everywhere. The whole of Nikis Avenue, leading from the Customs the the White Tower along the quays, has been prohibited to public traffic. The same applies to all the coastal zone from the Villa Alatini to Kara-Bournou. Part of Tsimiski Street-at the crossing of Venizelos Street has also been declared a military zone.

Great military activity is observable in Salonica. There is a continual travel by plane, of high-ranking German officers between Salonica and Berlin and between Salonica and Sofia.

A few villages on the outskirts of Salonica have been evacuated. Their population has been directed toward Western Macedonia and Thessaly and strictly forbidden to return to Salonica or Volos. Nevertheless, a few peasants and a priest managed to reach Salonica and reported that important Bulgarian forces were advancing toward Salonica. This created panic among the Salonicians which was justified a few days later when three to four thousand Bulgarian soldiers, mostly belonging to the infantry, crossed the city in a southerly direction. However, the evacuation of the neighboring villages had no connection with this movement of Bulgarian troops. The Germans had evacuated the villages for reasons of military safety and in order to install their radio service and a few anti-aircraft units to defend Sedes airdrome.

Another reason for this evacuation is that the Germans, for some time past, have been taking measures for the defense of Salonica from an attack coming from the interior. Such an attack might come either from Greek and Yugoslav patriots or from the Allies, in the event of their landing south of the city and advancing on it from the rear.

Through the press and through all means of propaganda at their disposal, the Nazis have launched a large-scale campaign to pacify Salonician public opinion. They claim there will be no eventual occupation of this city by the Bulgars. They even go as far as to state that in the event of a landing, the Germans alone will take charge of the defense of the city and not a single Bulgar will enter it.


Source: "Documents: The Jews in Greece, 1941-1944: Eyewitness Accounts," by Alexandros Kitroeff, Journal of the Hellenic Diaspora, Vol. XII, No. #3, (Fall 1985)