Wednesday, January 13, 2010


Excerpts from a Jerusalem Post article by Leora Goldberg:

Whoever knows the history of Greece and its islands even faintly knows that there was no place struck harder by the Nazis. Rhodes, Corfu, Salonika, Athens. The loss of Jewish life in Greece was devastating. From 1944, there were almost no Jews left even in the bigger communities.

On September 9 1943, the governor of the German occupation named Berenz had asked the mayor of Zakynthos, Loukas Karrer, for a list of all Jews on the Greek island.

Rejecting the demand after consulting with Bishop Chrysostomos, they decided to go together to the governor's office the next day. When Berenz insisted once again for the list, the bishop explained that these Jews weren't
Christians but had lived here in peace and quiet for hundreds of years.

They had never bothered anyone, he said. They were Greeks just like all other Greeks, and it would offend all the residents of Zakynthos if they were to leave.

But the governor persisted that they give him the names.

The bishop then handed him a piece of paper containing only two names: Bishop Chrysostomos and Mayor Karrer.

In addition, the bishop wrote a letter to Hitler himself, declaring that the Jews in Zakynthos were under his authority.

The speechless governor took both documents and sent them to the Nazi military commander in Berlin. In the meantime, not knowing what would happen, the local Jews were sent by the leaders of the island to hide inside Christian homes in the hills. However, a Nazi order to round up the Jews was soon revoked - thanks to the devoted leaders who risked their lives to save them.

In October 1944, the Germans withdrew from the island, leaving behind 275 Jews. The entire Jewish population had survived, while in many other regions Jewish communities were eliminated.

In 1948, in recognition of the heroism of the Zakynthians during the Holocaust, the Jewish community donated stained glass for the windows of the Church of Saint Dionyssios.

In 1978, Yad Vashem [the "Holocaust Martyrs' and Heroes' Remembrance Authority" in Jerusalem] honored Bishop Chrysostomos and Mayor Loukas Karrer with the title of "Righteous among the Nations."

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