#031 – History and memory of the Holocaust in Thessaloniki

with Leon Saltiel

Transport of Jews from the Ghetto in the Eastern part of Thessaloniki to the Baron Hirsch transit camp, via Egnatia street, April 9, 1943. The Jews can be seen in between two columns of onlookers who were watching the scene. The photo was taken from a balcony, where one can also see the father and sister of the photographer. (Archive of the Jewish Museum of Thessaloniki)


In 1943, the almost entire Jewish population of Thessaloniki was arrested and deported to Nazi extermination camps. This tragic event marked an irrevocable rupture in the centuries-old history of the local Jewish community. In this episode, we discuss an innovative history of the Holocaust in Thessaloniki through the focus on interactions between Nazi occupiers, local Christian elites, the Jewish population, professional institutions, state and church authorities. Inspired by a plurality of sources, this approach is pioneering for the reflections it opens on the municipal dimension of the persecutions and the Holocaust, and how this has only recently become part of the city’s memory after decades of silence.



Leon Saltiel holds a PhD in Contemporary Greek History from the University of Macedonia in Thessaloniki and has received post-doctoral fellowships at the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies in Geneva and the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki. His publications include The Holocaust in Thessaloniki: Reactions to the Anti-Jewish Persecution, 1942–1943 (Routledge 2020) and ‘Do Not Forget Me’: Three Jewish Mothers Write to their Sons from the Ghetto of Thessaloniki (Alexandria 2018). Leon has more than 15 years’ experience working on human rights issues around the world, the majority of which was working with the United Nations in Geneva.

Photo Credit: Shahar Azran


To cite this episode: Leon Saltiel, Andreas Guidi (2020): History and Memory of the Holocaust in Thessaloniki. The Southeast Passage #031, 18.06.2020, http://thesoutheastpassage.com/podcast/saltiel-thessaloniki-holocaust/


Stella Haskil: Nichtose horis fengari (A moonless night fell)

Stella Haskil was a Jewish singer born in Thessaloniki in 1918. Already popular before WWII, she continued to perform songs in Greek and Ladino, including famous Rembetika, during the occupation, using her first name only. She survived the Holocaust and her most successful songs were recorded just after the war.

The introductory quote is read by Gabriel Doyle.

Further reading:

Antoniou, Giorgios and A. Dirk Moses, eds., The Holocaust in Greece (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2018)

Bowman, Steven ed., The Holocaust in Salonika: Eyewitness Accounts (Bloch Publishing Co., 2002)

Fleming, Katherine E. Greece: A Jewish History (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2010)

Mazower, Mark Salonica City of Ghosts: Christians, Muslims and Jews, 1430–1950 (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2005) )

Molho, Michael and Joseph Nehama, In memoriam: hommage aux victimes juives des Nazis en Grèce (Thessaloniki, 1948–1953)

Naar, Devin E., Jewish Salonica: Between the Ottoman Empire and Modern Greece (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2016)

Nehama, Joseph Histoire des Israélites de Salonique (Thessaloniki: Jewish Community of Thessaloniki, 1978)

Pierron, Bernard, Juifs et chrétiens de la Grèce moderne (Paris: Editions l’Harmattan, 1996)

Stein, Sarah A., Family Papers: A Sephardic Journey through the Twentieth Century (New York: Farrar, Straus, and Giroux)


In Greek:

Antoniou, Giorgios, Stratos Dordanas, Nikos Zaikos, Nikos Marantzidis, ed., To Olokavtoma sta Valkania (Epikentro, Thessaloniki 2011)

Saltiel, Leon, ed., Min me Xehasete: Treis Evraies miteres grafoun stous gious tous apo to gketo tis Thessalonikis (Alexandreia, Athina 2018)

Yacoel, Yomtov Apomnimonevmata 1941-1943 (Paratiritis, Thessaloniki 1993)



Scene from the gathering of 8,500 Jewish men in Liberty Square to register for forced labor, Thessaloniki, July 11, 1942. (Bundesarchiv)


Article entitled “The Persecution of the Jews,” published in Megali Ellas [Great Greece], March 1943. It describes the deportation of the Jews of France.



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