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Report on the Deportation of the Jews of Joannina

Re: Evacuation of the Jews from Joannina.

On 25.3.1944, under the direction of Order Police Major H a f r a n e k and with the cooperation of the squad, the military police, the Order Police and the GFP 621 (Joannina Branch), the Jews of Joannina were evacuated. The Greek police was also called to assist [in the evacuation].

At 3:00 a.m. on March 25, the squad closed off the ghettos. At 5 a.m. the head of the Jewish community was informed that all Jews, along with their family members, would have to come to two designated assembly points within the next three hours. Each family was allowed to take along 50 kg of luggage.

The Greek Gendarmerie and the Security Police [Sicherheitspolizei], as well as members of the Jewish Council, notified the Hebrews. At the same time, it was announced that any Jew not present at the assembly point by 8:00 would be shot. By 7:45 all quarters had been cleared, and the Jews had appeared at the assembly square. Heavy forces of the German Order Police supervised the clearing of the ghettos. Posters in the Greek language threatening that there would be immediate shooting in any instance of looting were pasted on most of the houses. The Aktion proceeded without incident. At 8:00, the transports could be started. The lorries had already been stationed on the access roads to the assembly points. The loading took place under the supervision of the Field Gendarmerie and the German Order Police; furthermore, every co-driver was made responsible for counting and bringing over the Jews to his vehicle. At 10:00, the loading of all the Hebrews had been concluded, and the convoy of about 80 lorries began to move in the direction of Trikkala.

The Aktion can be regarded as completely successful, since 95% of the registered Jews were deported. The cooperation of the departments involved, including that of the Greek police, was exemplary.

The Greek population, which had in the meantime taken notice of the campaign, assembled in the streets of the city. With subdued joy visible on their faces, they observed the departure of the Hebrews from their city. Only rarely did a Greek condescend to wave good-bye to a member of the Jewish race. It was clear that this race was equally unpopular with the old as with the young. There was no expression of sympathy with their destiny or disapproval of the Aktion.

According to various incoming reports, the deportation of the Jews has greatly satisfied the population. Support for the Germans has risen following this Aktion.

Since the belongings that were left behind, as well as food supplies, were allocated to the Greek authorities for the purpose of registration and administration, the sting has been taken out of the EAM [National Liberation Front] propaganda. From EDES-circles [Greek Democratic Organization], one hears only total approval.

It is generally believed that the committee administrating Jewish property should include a German observer in order to prevent inconsistencies or irregularities in the distribution of the property.

Generally, a drop in prices on the black market is expected, because the bulk of the purchasers in the rural population consisted largely of Jews.

In the last few days, an obvious decline could be felt in the market. This shows that the influence of the few Jews here had been significant.

Altogether, 1,725 members of the Jewish race were deported on 25.3.44.

(Signature illegible)
Non-commissioned officer [Unteroffizier]

Copy for the attention of Ic XXII. Geb. A. K. in G a r r i s o n.

Message conveyed to:

(Signed) Kurt Waldheim

Sergeant and Head of the Branch

Source: Yad Vashem