4 December 2012

Athens, 4 December 2012. The EU-project EHRI, coordinated by the NIOD, is currently performing an inventory of Greek Holocaust-archives and collections. The impact of the Holocaust in Greece is similar to the Netherlands. Less than 20 per cent of the Jewish population of this European member state survived the terror reign of the Nazis. Before the Second World War 70,000 to 80,000 Jews lived in Greece. They had been in Greece for centuries, mainly in Thessaloniki.

German airplane Dornier Do 215 above the Acropolis

Most of them were deported to the concentration camps and murdered. Today only 1,000 to 2,000 Jews live in the city and Athens holds approximately another 3,000 Jews. Dealing with this hard figures will contribute to the mutual European challenge to protect and make accessible the evidence of the Holocaust for future generations, according to EHRI-coordinator dr. Conny Kristel.

With this purpose from 4 December 2012 onwards Holocaust experts and representatives from Greek archives will meet in Athens. They will identify all relevant collections in government archives, Jewish museums and private organisations. These resources relate to the period before and after the Second World War. The focus is not only on official documents but also on private collections of victims and Jewish communities.

EHRI also contributes to important collections itself, like for instance registration forms that have been filled out by people from Thessaloniki, before being deported. Hopefully new resources may be discovered during the inventory.

Shared Greek-Dutch past

At the opening of the conference in Athens dr. Kristel (NIOD) will remind the audience that the Netherlands and Greece - and more specifically Thessaloniki and Amsterdam - share a reputation. For centuries both cities have been refugee places for persecuted Jews in other parts of Europe. Amsterdam was called "the Jerusalem of the North" and Thessaloniki "Little Jerusalem". But according to Kristel they also share a similar horrible deportation past. From the Netherlands 75 per cent of the Jewish population was deported and killed. For Thessaloniki the percentage was even higher: more than 90 per cent.

"At the outer borders of Europe the Netherlands and Greece are thousands of kilometres apart. Yet they share the same painful memory of the Holocaust. Cooperation between the European countries will ensure that the collective memory, in the shape of many documents and archives, remains preserved for the next generations", according to dr. Kristel.