Greek Tourist Board Issues Booklet on Jewish Heritage

In an unprecedented move to boost Jewish tourism, the Greek National Tourist Organization has published a full-color, 16-page booklet on “Jewish Heritage in Greece.”

The booklet, whose first run was 1,200,000 copies, is published in Greek, English, French and German.

In addition, excerpts from the booklet are also published in the Olympic Airways inflight magazine, Kinissi.

The booklet, which will be distributed worldwide through the offices of the Greek Tourist Organization, refers to sites of historical interest to Jews and traces Greek Jewish history for the past 2,300 years.

Although the initiative was taken by the Greek Tourist Organization, the Central Board of Jewish Communities in Greece provided most of the pictures and text.

Greece is reportedly the first and so far the only European country to publish a special booklet on its Jewish heritage. Its aim is to attract Jewish travelers to Greece.

Nissim Mais, the president of the Central Board of Jewish Communities, said “the Jewish community is more than satisfied” with the initiative of the National Tourist Board.

One of the main attractions pointed out in the booklet is a wartime letter sent by Archbishop Damankinos to SS Gen. Jurgen Stroop, the German commander in Greece during World War II, protesting the deportation of Greek Jews.

The letter, which was signed by 250 personalities and organizations from all walks of life, triggered the rage of Stroop, who threatened the archbishop with a firing squad.

Stroop, who in April 1943 was commander in Warsaw during the ghetto uprising, took over SS command in Athens in September 1943.

He issued a regulation on Oct. 3, 1943, requiring Jews to register and ruling that any Jew who did not report to the Germans within five days would be shot, as would any non-Jew sheltering a Jew.

More than 60,000 Greek Jews were killed in the Holocaust, most in Auschwitz. There were 76,000 Jews in Greece before the war.

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