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Greek Jews Praise Church, Government for Wartime Role

The Greek Jewish community has issued a statement expressing its gratitude to the government and the Greek Orthodox Church for helping save Jews during the Holocaust.

The statement came after Turkey, under fire from Athens for its treatment of its Kurdish minority, accused Greece of turning Jews over to the Nazis.

During the war, the Greek people “protected and helped fugitive Greek Jews as much as possible, putting their own lives in danger,” according to the statement issued last Friday by the Central Jewish Board of Greece, an umbrella organization of all Greek Jewish communities.

Greeks from all walks of life helped save Jews from the Holocaust, according to community officials.

Unlike the Vatican, which has been criticized for its silence during the Holocaust, the Greek Orthodox Church issued a strongly worded letter to the German authorities protesting the deportation of Jews.

Nor was this the only instance of the Orthodox church’s support for Jews.

When the Nazis called on the bishop of the Greek island of Zakinthos to submit a list of all the Jews living there, the bishop delivered a list with only one name on it — his own.

Turkey’s accusations regarding Greece’s wartime actions came amid ongoing tensions between the two countries.

Those tensions, which date back centuries, were heightened recently when Greece successfully blocked Turkey’s request to become a member of the European Union.

E.U. officials voted to exclude Turkey, citing Ankara’s violations of human rights and its treatment of its Kurds, many of whom have been seeking political asylum in Greece.

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