Intelligence Report on Jews in Greece

(July 17, 1943)


MILITARY INTELLIGENCE DIVISION W.D.G.S.

Reports by the Military Attaché in Istanbul
Report No. 12
July 17, 1943

Source and degree of reliability: B-2, Turkish subject.

The following statement was made by Jako Menashe, Turkish subject, on July 14, 1943. The statement is self-explanatory. Mr. Menashe has resided in Salonica, Greece, for many years.

"Some 10 days ago I was called by the Turkish Consul, who came to Salonica from Athens and informed that I and some 8 or 10 Turkish subject Jews must leave immediately for Turkey, otherwise we would be sent out of the country with other Greek Jews. Finally, the Consul was able to persuade the Germans to give us a few extra days and with several others I left Salonica Thursday morning, the 8th of July, and arrived in Istanbul Monday, the 12th of July.

We changed trains at Cevgeli, Iskub, Sofia and Buleburgas.

With the exception of about 100, all the Greek Jews of Salonica have been deported in the direction of Niche but to what destination is not known. This mass deportation started about the 27th of March and lasted about one month and a half. Deportees were allowed to take practically nothing with them. They were packed into closed wagons, many wagons used for transportation of cattle, etc. The men and women were separated, children up to 7 years were allowed with their mothers. Over 7 years were separated male and female. I know one woman who was sent who had had a child the day before.

The 100 still left in the Ghetto (the poor district known as the Baron Hirsch) consist of the Hebambashi, several of his assistants, secretaries and so forth and it is said that as soon as Jews, who have been used in Thrace in labor corps, return to Salonica, they will make up a large convoy and they will all be sent. The laborers are now being called in. Italian, Turkish and Spanish Jews have not been sent. No news or letters have been received from any of the deportees. One man whom I know, a certain Hasson, was brought hack to Salonica, imprisoned and beaten up for several days until he finally confessed that he had handed over to a certain Valera, druggist, 700 gold liras for safekeeping before he left. He was then taken into custody by two German officers who brought him back to Salonica, together with the Jew who had given him away, and they went to Valera who was forced to admit having the gold. This was handed over and was divided equally between the German officers and the Jew. Hasson was then deported to follow the others.

Between Salonica and Niche I saw 7-8 trains daily of 30-40 wagons, some of them with two locomotives, filled with German and Austrian troops moving slowly towards Salonica. I saw a certain number of Bulgarians on these trains but did not see any train entirely made up of Bulgarians. I saw some 8-10 trucks with tanks, some of them with one and some with two tanks. Nearly all the Germans on these trains appeared to be young boys from 16 to 18 years of age. During the last few weeks I saw a number of Bulgarian troops arrive in Salonica and the next day saw quite a few of these same Bulgarians changed into German uniforms. After Pantelleria a certain number of German troops left Salonica moving northwards and there was a rumor that those were being sent to Avlona.

From a Greek who arrived from Athens shortly before I left and who was on his way to Germany, I was informed (and this information was confirmed by other sources) that within the last three or four weeks four bridges and a tunnel on the Athens-Salonica line had been blown up by Greek bands, the bridges between Larrissa and Athens and the tunnel west of and not far from Larrissa. One Greek stated that it will not be possible to repair the line before the end of August. The line is very little used for passenger traffic and military traffic-have to change trains at the blown up sections.

I was informed that the Platamona bridge was blown up by Greek bands on June 28-30. Till a month ago, 500-600 Italians were stationed at Salonica. Recently these have been considerably increased, maybe up to 5,000-6,000 all coming from Athens. Many Greek police and gendarmes have been brought into Salonica and have been replaced in Thrace by Bulgarians, who have now occupied towns and villages in considerably increased numbers. Many Greek civilian refugees have come in to Salonica from Thrace increasing the already swollen population to 900,000, against a peace-time population of 450,000.

It was rumored that Bulgarians [sic] troops would come in to Salonica. This created a panic, food prices rose to new heights and many articles of food disappeared from the market, but the Bulgarians eventually reached a place some 20 kilometers outside of Salonica and up to the time I left there were no unusual additions to the comparatively few Bulgarian soldiers ordinarily seen in the streets.

I saw no troop movements between Niche and Sofia either way, from Plovidiv to the Turkish frontier all blinds were drawn and I was unable to see any movements."

CEDRIC H. SEGER

Captain, A.C.,

Assistant Military Attache.

Forwarded

RICHARD G. TINDALL, Brigadier General, U.S.A., Military Attache.


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