The Fate of Greek Jews
(November 11, 1943)
Correspondence from the American Consulate-General in Istanbul, Turkey, addressed to the Secretary of State, Washington
SUBJECT: Information concerning Jews in Greece.
I have the honor to submit information concerning the fate of Jews deported from Salonica and concerning the situation of Jews in former Italian-occupied territory, and particularly in Athens, since the Germans on October 3 ordered them to register. The information was furnished by the local representative of a Jewish organization.
I. The representative of the Jewish organization made the following statement in an interview:
II The German order requiring Jews to register referred to above and reported in Despatch No. 1601 (R-1483) of October 22, 1943, is given below in order to facilitate reference to it.
Athens, October 3, 1943
The Higher S.S. and Police
III. The following is a translation of a written report furnished by the representative of the Jewish organization:
"After the German announcement (requiring Jews to register) every Jew who had provided himself with a card of identity bearing an Orthodox name, was assured a hiding place with Orthodox friends. One must confess that the Athenians have shown a more humane attitude than the people of Salonica and because of that, there is reason to hope that a large part of the Jews can be saved from falling into German hands. There have been cases, however, in which in order to find a safe refuge, it was necessary to pay 1,500,000 to 2,000,000 drachmas monthly or deposit 50 or even 100 gold pounds to the person who gave him shelter as compensation in case the Germans sent him to a concentration camp.
The E.A.M. organization has recruited a large number of our people (Jews) who know English and has sent them to their headquarters. Others, most of them young men, have gone into the mountains to join the guerrillas or to live in the regions known as "Free Greece." The majority have gone to the Karpenisi region and others to Euboea in order to escape by boat. The E.A.M., which has organized several groups, asked everyone in good circumstances to assure the support of two destitute Jews. The organization had distributed leaflets to the Athenians asking them to give assistance. The following is an example of the helpful attitude of the Greeks. At our place of embarkation in Euboea the guerrillas have permitted only Jews to depart and it was only after taking an oath (that they were Jews) that the refugees were allowed to continue their journey.
It is said that during the five-day period specified in the German order only fifty or sixty persons, chiefly those who found no place of refuge, registered. In view of this the Germans prolonged the registration period to October 17 but there were some who registered on October 18 without being penalized. The Germans gave to each one who registered a white card without photographs on which were written the name, address and occupation together with a list of dates, indicating that the bearer should report every second day.
In the case of an invalid an exception was made and he was told to register every fourth day. Those married to Greeks received brown cards. Since the Athenians have shown hostility to the anti-Jewish measures, it is thought that the Germans will be less severe at the beginning in order to bring out those who are hiding. Up to October 20 they had not pillaged any Jewish shops with the exception of Alhadeff (against whom action was taken as soon as the Italians gave up authority) and that of Eliezer Salomon and a warehouse at 60 Kypseli Street. The furniture of several private houses has been removed, for example Salomon Camhi, Joseph Danon, Sariano, Benzonane, Asseo. Houses of Jews occupied by Greek friends, who have declared that they have bought the property, have not been touched. The hidden Jews will suffer only if the Germans offer rewards to those who denounce them--as such a reward is a great temptation to people suffering from hunger.
The Greek Archbishop has ordered priests to urge in their churches that the Jews be aided. He also intervened with the German authorities to exempt children under 14 and those married to a person of Orthodox faith, and it appears that he was successful. In spite of that it is my opinion that the one hope for the Jews is to escape, for in the long run it is possible that fear of reprisals might influence our Greek friends to change their attitude. With this end in view, it is necessary to confer with several of our sympathizers. I mention the lawyer Andreas Aspealo poulos [surname unclear on original] very good friend of Peppo Benusiglio and Boher Jessurum.
The committee which was formed by the Germans to represent the community is composed of Sciaky and Hadjopoulos and another whose name has not been reported. As you know, the Rabbi Barzilai escaped to the mountains as soon as he was asked for a list of 25 leading Jews. He burned all his records.
I have learned that Athanati has been given the first shipment of 100 pounds sterling but not the second. I advise making future shipments of funds for expenses on land through reputable Greek friends who will get in touch with our people who are subjects of neutral countries. Although these Jews have more liberty of action they are afraid to take the initiative."
Burton Y. Berry
Source: "Documents: The Jews in Greece, 1941-1944: Eyewitness Accounts," by Alexandros Kitroeff, Journal of the Hellenic Diaspora, Vol. XII, No. #3, (Fall 1985)