Athens (Jul. 20)
Two-thousand Greek Jews repatriated from Polish death camps have been confined in a reception center for more than a month swaiting transportation to their home towns, and the Greek Government has taken no steps to remedy the situation.
The repatriated deportees are living under what an UNRRA representative described as “deplorable conditions,” and there is a strong possibility that they may be compelled to remain in the camp for an indefinite period as no ships or vehicles have been provided for their transportation.
Kyriakos Varvaressoss, the so-called “strong man” of the present government and its deputy prime minister, told a Jewish Telegraphic Agency correspondent that no plans have been made to assist the deportees to return home. “In this country,” he said, “the problems of Jews and Christians are similar, so therefore we plan no special treatment for Jews.”
“The assimilation of Jews was almost complete before the war, except the Portugusee and Spanish Jews who wished to retain their foreign citizenship,” Vervaressoss continued. “Defense of Jews is a characteristic of the Greeks. Their future safety is assured.”
SALONIKA JEWS BEING TERRORIZED BY ANTI-SEMITIC ORGANIZATION
The facts, however, belie the deputy prime minister’s assurances. Reports reaching here daily tell of how the Jews of Salonika, for instance, are being terrorized by the “Epsilom Epsilom,” an anti-Semitic group with fascist tendencies. In Salonika there are only 1,000 Jews remaining of the pre-war population of over 45,000.
In all of Greece, according to Rabbi Eli Barzilai, head of the Jewish community in Athens, only 10,000 Jews remain of the 80,000 who lived in the country before the German occupation, including the 2,000 who have returned. These figures are up to date and have been confirmed by official sources. The pre-war Jewish population of the principal cities and provinces of Greece and the present population is given as follows: Salonika 45,000 000-1,000 Crets 1,000 None Athens 7,000 3,800 Jennina 3,500 40-50 Larissa 1,500 850 Thrace 6 – 7,000 None Volos 2,000 1,000 Castoria 4,000 300-400 Corfu 3,000 80 Florina 4,000 300-400
In the absence of government assistance for Jews, the Jews of Palestine have come to their aid. A Jewish delegation arrived here recently to request the government to facilitate the emigration to Palestine of those Jews desiring to settle there. Jewish doctors from Palestine have also come here to render medical aid. English Jews have sent a mobile synagogue which will tour the country since most synagogues were destroyed by the Nazis.
UNRRA is also attempting to help the Greek Jews. It has requested Washington to include a proportion of kosher meat in the relief shipments to be sent here from the United States.