Author Topic: On This Day  (Read 1954 times)

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Offline Maik

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On This Day
« on: Saturday, 09 September, 2017 @ 16:29:27 »
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On This Day September 9, 1943: Light During the Darkness of the Holocaust on the Island of Zakynthos

On September 9 1943, the head of the Nazi German occupation forces of the Greek island of Zakynthos, following orders from Berlin as part of Adolf Hitler’s Final Solution, summoned the mayor, Loukas Karrer, to his office.

He demanded a list of all Jews on the island in order for their ultimate round up and deportation. He asked him to return with the list in 24 hours.

The mayor left the meeting and immediately consulted with Metropolitan Chrysostomos, the island’s Greek Orthodox leader and together, they devised a plan that would ultimately go down in history as one of the most positive moments of one of mankind’s most darkest periods.
http://www.pappaspost.com/day-september-9-1943-light-darkness-holocaust-island-zakynthos/

Offline Jolly Roger

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Re: On This Day
« Reply #1 on: Sunday, 10 September, 2017 @ 08:29:43 »
If there were 275 jews on Zakynthos, I wonder how many were on Kefalonia and what happened to them?

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In the late spring of 1944, Nazi ships of death were making stops in the ports of the Ionian Islands. They had stowed 2,000 Jews from Corfu in their holds and another 400 from Cephalonia, and were heading for Zakynthos. The mission of the SS squads was to round up all of the members of the Jewish community in the region and sail them to the western port city of Patra, where they would be transferred onto trains for Auschwitz.

http://www.ekathimerini.com/161394/article/ekathimerini/community/the-greek-island-that-hid-its-jews-from-the-nazis
« Last Edit: Sunday, 10 September, 2017 @ 15:51:17 by Jolly Roger »

Offline Maik

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Re: On This Day
« Reply #2 on: Sunday, 17 September, 2017 @ 15:05:17 »
Shortly before Easter, 1891, a young girl was found murdered outside a Jewish residence in the back streets of the Corfu ghetto. Rumours raged on the island: Was this the tragic end of a love affair, or an act of sex with violence? Or was this murder the culmination of a family drama, committed by her adoptive parents? But perhaps she was not Jewish…

A kidnapped Christian, murdered by the Jews in order for them to fulfil their religious needs. Upon discovery of the body the local police pronounced it a ritual murder and the first coronary report confirmed it. Local and Athenian newspapers spread the news beyond the island’s community, while local politicians maintained it for their own political agenda.


Corfu and Zakynthos are known to have had Jewish communities but there's little information, in English, anyway, about a Jewish community on Kefalonia. So I was surprised to read that 400 Jews were taken by the Nazis when the Jewish community on Zakynthos numbered around 275. So, what did happen to Kef's Jewish community?

For anyone who can read Greek it might be possible to track down a couple of studies by Aggelos-Dionysios Debonos,  “Οι Εβραιοι της Κεφαλονιας” [The Jews of Kefalonia] and “Εβραικες οικογενειες στην Κεφαλονια” [Jewish families in Kefalonia]. Possibly also information here (.pdf): ΟΙ ΕΒΡΑΪΚΕΣ ΚΟΙΝΟΤΗΤΕΣ ΣΤΗΝ ΕΛΛΑΔΑ [Jewish Communities in Greece].

There's a trilogy of books by Albert Cohen featuring Jews on Kefalonia. Cohen was a Romaniot Jew born on Corfu but lived mostly in Geneva, he had no connection with Kefalonia and the books are novels. Originally in French, it might be possible to track down English translations.

Maybe we can get an idea what happened to Kef's Jewish community by looking at events on Corfu and Zakynthos.

Jews have lived in Greece since the days of the Roman Empire which, from 330 AD, was ruled from Konstantinopolis (Istanbul), not Rome. Like the Greeks, they were considered Roman citizens and were known as Romaniots.

At the same time, Jews lived in Apulia, the 'heel' of the boot of modern Italy. Around 480 AD the Western Roman Empire collapsed and control of Apulia passed to the Eastern Roman (Byzantine) Empire.

By 1,000 AD there were established Sephardic Jewish communities in Spain and Portugal and Ashkenazi Jewish communities in the Holy Roman Empire (no legitimate connection to the Roman Empire), mainly in Germany, France and Italy.

According to the Annales Cavenses, Jews were among the captives taken by Roger II of Sicily after the capture of Corfu and Kefalonia in 1147. However, although Corfu was held by Robert Guiscard, Duke of Apulia and Calabria, between 1081-1085 he died off Atheras in 1085 while partially taking Kefalonia. His nephew, Roger II of Sicily re-took Corfu in 1147 but it wasn't until 1185 that Kefalonia was prised from the Byzantine Empire. So we can't be sure there was a Jewish community on Kef in 1147.

In 1282 Apulia was conquered by the Kingdom of Naples and Jews were ordered to convert to Christianity. Many fled to central and northern Italy.

In 1492 Spain began to expel Jews and a number of Sephardic Jews were given free passage by Sultan Bayezid II to Thessaloniki, then part of the Ottoman Empire. Others fled to Apulia but were driven out between 1510, when Apulia was conquered by the Spanish, and 1540 when the Inquisition was imposed on Jews. A number settled on Corfu where, due to cultural and linguistic differences, they established a separate community to the Romaniot Jews. Subsequent European Jewish immigrants identified more with the Sephardic community and it came to outnumber the Romaniot community. On the eve of World War II, Corfu had almost 2,000 Jews, two-thirds in the 'Italian community' and one-third in the Romaniot.

Other Sephardic Jews settled on Zakynthos and, after Ottoman Turks took control of Crete from the Venetians in 1669, a number of Cretan Romaniot Jews settled on Zakynthos where they established a separate, and larger, community to the Sephardic Jews. In 1686 the Jewish communities numbered about 1,000 people. By 1891 the Jewish population numbered between 200 - 300. No obvious reason I can see for the large decline, nor any idea where they migrated to.

Although the Orthodox Christians, Roman Catholics and Jews generally lived in peace on the Eptanisa there were anti-Semitic acts, official and by the mob.

Within the first decades of Venetian rule the Christians of Corfu sent an embassy to Venice demanding that the latter authorities recognize their “rights” to “stone” Jews. And although the authorities did not grant this particular demand they did however issue an order (1406) requiring all Jews to wear, on pain of fine, a marker of yellow cloth on their outer garments. Furthermore they issued another order prohibiting Jews from owning real estate within the city and suburb of Corfu with the only exception being homes already owned.

The Jews lived in a ghetto which, at various times, was closed at night. At times, that was for their protection.

During the brief period(s) of French 'revolutionary' control the position of the Jews looked to improve and they were given, more or less, equal rights. However, the French had little time to make progress and, while the population generally welcomed the French they were not willing to accept Jews as Greek citizens. When the British took control they inherited a volatile situation and, to maintain stability, reverted - at least initially - to Venetian laws. Jews couldn't vote, were prohibited from certain professions and were subject to restrictions on owning property.

Within a year, the British had to confine Jews to the Corfu ghetto from Good Friday to Easter Tuesday for their protection.

Strangely, one of the worst acts of anti-Semitism may have stemmed from the citron, or etrog/esrog, as Jews call it. It's essential part of the Feast of the Tabernacles religious ceremony. It has a very thick rind, very little juice and looks like a knobbly lemon:



A variety, not used in Jewish religious ceremonies, looks like this when growing:



and like this when ripe:



It's known as Buddha's Hand citron. But that's going off topic.

As Europe's Jewish communities grew, so did demand for citron. Italy, Corsica and Corfu were the main suppliers. However, the political situation on Corsica was unstable and supplies unreliable. Grafted citron trees were widespread in Italy and for a citron to be considered kosher it must be pure, not be grafted or bred with other citrus species. European Jews, such as the Ashkenazi, being accustomed to the Diamanté citron / Yanova esrog, queried whether the Greek citron was suitable. Citron trees in Corfu were declared kosher and demand for Corfu etrog increased.

However, such was the demand that rumours began to circulate that grafted etrog were being imported from Ottoman territories and sold on as kosher etrog from Corfu, allegedly with the participation of Corfu's chief rabbi.

Another allegation was that Corfiot growers dumped citron in the sea to artificially create a shortage and thus drive up the price. True or not, toward the end of the nineteenth century Corfiot growers formed a cartel and substantially increased the price of their citron. As a result demand dropped dramatically causing serious financial problems for the Greek Orthodox landowners and farmers and also for Jewish merchants and rabbinic certifiers. After several years the growers reduced their prices but demand never recovered, alternative supplies had been found.

The price hike by the Greek Orthodox growers caused resentment among Jews and the subsequent boycott by Jews caused resentment among the Greek Orthodox population.

It's sometimes claimed that the bad feeling caused by the citron price hike was behind, or contributed to, the murder of a young girl just before Easter/Passover, 1891. Whatever the truth, public opinion was that Jews kidnapped and killed Christian children to obtain their blood for use in religious ceremonies. And that certainly wasn't the truth.

It's all rather Hammer Horror, devil worshippers sacrificing young blonde virgins and all that, but it was widely believed throughout Europe.

When the Roman Empire first deemed Christianity acceptable, pagans viewed Christians as incestuous barbarians for they called one another 'brother' and 'sister' and 'drank the blood of Christ' and 'ate the body of Christ' at Eucharist. There were also accusations that Christians killed children for use in religious ceremonies.

The story remained the same, just the names were changed. Accusations of 'blood libel', the murder of (Christian) children by Jews for religious purposes, are recorded during the Roman Empire and resurfaced in medieval England with William of Norwich in 1144.

Quite numbing but well worth a read, the story of Rubina Sarda.

A couple of things there I found possibly relevant to Kefalonia:

The quaint custom of chucking crockery out of windows at Easter has a sinister origin. Corfiots believed Judas Iscariot had lived on the island and that it was inhabited by his descendants. Chucking pots out of upper story windows into the street below celebrated stoning Judas. The Corfiots may have wished to stone the Jews, but they were under protective curfew during Easter. According to Lawrence Durrell there was a Jewish cobbler named Iscariotes in Corfu Town in the 1930's.

This is a custom that was 'revived' in Argostoli in recent years. Also seen on Kefalonia (and elsewhere in Greece), 'Judas  burning', e.g.

Monopolata... is one of the many villages of the peninsula Palliki, in the west of Kefalonia. It has about 90 residents… The main church of Monopolata is Zoodoxos Pigi, where every year, five days after Easter, is celebrated with pomp and Liturgy through the streets of the village. Easter and its customs are honoured to Monopolata, with the burning of Judas and the breaking of the pitcher.”
 
Allegations of anti-Semitism have been denied by the Orthodox Church

('Judas burning' also occurred in an area of Liverpool from the late 19th Century to the 1950’s.)

Of course, Guy Fawkes Night was originally an anti-Catholic celebration which some now want to ban.

Following the murder of Rubina Sarda and the subsequent demonstrations of anti-Semitism the  boycott of Corfu citrons increased and the market collapsed. This caused more resentment against Jews and many of Corfu's Jews left for other cities/countries.

The 1891 Corfu blood libel led to mob violence and deaths on Zakynthos. More blood libels followed, in 1915 and 1918. In 1944 almost all of Corfu's Jews were sent to Auschwitz. Few survived. Of the four synagogues that existed on Corfu before World War II only one remains.

We can be sure there was a Jewish community on Kefalonia, quite possibly long established to the extent some fully integrated into Greek society by adopting Greek Orthodox customs, e.g. the Moskonas of Havdata *may* be descendants of Romaniot Jews who settled on Kefalonia centuries ago.

There's some evidence that the Venetian governor of Cephalonia was illicitly printing the Torah in Hebrew around 1570 but these were primarily for export around Europe, it doesn't prove there was a Jewish prescence on the island at that time.

There's evidence of a Jewish community - and anti-Semitism - on Kefalonia in June, 1823, as Charles Napier, Resident of Cephalonia, is quoted as saying, “I have stopped a massacre of the Jews here, all prepared for the love of Jesus! The Greeks have in consequence called me King of the Jews, and say the latter gave me twelve thousand dollars for protection. Would it were be true!”

Five years later, in 1828, Joseph Wolff, a noted Jewish born Christian missionary, suffered shipwreck off Kefalonia and took opportunity to address the island's Jews. He spoke in Italian, which might suggest the Jews were mainly Italian Sephardic Jews, but at the time Italian was widely spoken as it (not Greek) was the official language until around 1800.

Following the success of the War of Independence the people of the United States of the Ionian Islands, as the Eptanisa were known under British rule, wanted union with the new Greek state and  the Party of Radicals was established in 1848 to further this aim. Jewish citizens wanted equal rights and Iosif Nachamoulis founded the Ισραηλιτικά Χρονικά (Israeli Chronicles), the first Jewish newspaper in Greece, printed in Italian and Greek. The newspaper respectfully called for the emancipation of the Eptanisa's Jewish citizens. This was in 1861.

In the same year Refutation of the Religion and Customs of the Jews, 'proof' that a certain class of rabbi performed ritual murder in order to utilise children's blood for religious purposes, was published in Corfu and Zakynthos.

The Israeli Chronicles was not well received on Corfu. The New Epoch, a Corfiot newspaper owned by Zakynthiot businessman and Radical, Konstantinos Lombardos, repeated the 'evidence' contained in Refutation of the Religion and Customs of the Jews.

Members of the Borsa (Mercantile Exchange) voted by majority decision to close the exchange and re-establish it with Jews excluded. According to the Lord High Commissioner, Henry Storks, the reason was not actually religious, rather that some Jews had a substantial stake in the olive oil trade, a stake certain other traders wanted for themselves.

At this time the Radical Party was beginning to split into two factions, the original Radicals largely based on Kefalonia, and challengers supporting Lombardos of Zakynthos who called into question the loyalties of Jewish citizens and whether they supported the Radicals or the Reformists. Kefalonian Radicals, notably Panagiotis Panas, Avgostinos Livathinopoulos and Epaminondas Anninos, along with non-Radicals such as Kefalonian Andreas Laskaratos, supported the Israeli Chronicles and asserted that the Jews were as much Greek citizens as the Orthodox population.

The Eptanisa achieved union with Greece in 1864 and the emancipation of Jews was enshrined in the new constitution. Opinions, and actions, changed little. As evidenced by the Rubina Sarda case in 1891.

There's evidence of a Jewish family, probably of Italian Sephardic descent, on Kefalonia around the turn of the century, after which time this family moved to Corfu then Patras.

Forty or so years later Kef communists rescued Jews from the Nazis and were later outraged when Captain Corelli's Mandolin didn't portray this.

Now… the figure of 400… :hmm:

Accounts of the Jews being transported from Corfu vary. Some accounts mention “a ship” whereas others claim more than one, e.g.
“Corfiot Jews were bundled into empty motorless barges, towed by motor boat to Lefkas and kept there for a day, where the locals who attempted to feed them were beaten or shot. Thence to Patras for another day and the same senseless denial of food or feeding by others. Then on to Athens, still towed in barges.”

No mention of Kefalonia or Zakynthos. I've read other reports that claim Jews weren't taken from Zakynthos because the boat was already full with Jews from Corfu and Kefalonia. However, the acts of the Mayor and Metropolitan is the accepted version. The number of ships probably matters not, except it may cast doubt on the number of 400 Jews on Kefalonia.

When Kefalonia was hit by the devastating earthquake of 1953 ships of the Israeli navy were the first to reach Kefalonia and provide aid. Following the earthquake, the Jewish community in Cairo donated 100 Egyptian Pounds to the surviving Jewish community on Kefalonia.

What happened to those remaining Jews after 1953…... I'd think most emigrated, either to other European countries or America, or to the new Jewish state of Israel.

:dunno:


Sources include:
http://www.quest-cdecjournal.it/focus.php?id=355
http://www.quest-cdecjournal.it/focus.php?id=306
http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/zante
http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/corfu
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sephardi_Jews
http://www.hadassahmagazine.org/2012/02/28/jewish-traveler-corfu/
http://pjvoice.org/2010/08/27/the-etrog-the-father-of-all-lemons/
http://www.zionism-israel.com/dic/blood_libel.htm
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_of_Norwich
http://nytimes.com/2001/08/21/movies
https://books.google.co.uk/...Marc Antonio Giustiniani
https://books.google.co.uk/... Judas Iscariot

Offline Colleywobble

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Re: On This Day
« Reply #3 on: Sunday, 17 September, 2017 @ 17:52:24 »
A very interesting read Maik. Must say I have never come across a citron. Do they have them in Kefalonia?

Offline BeeTee

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Re: On This Day
« Reply #4 on: Sunday, 17 September, 2017 @ 19:18:30 »
Fascinating read Maik. Thanks for your time and effort in putting this all together.

Offline Jolly Roger

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Re: On This Day
« Reply #5 on: Sunday, 17 September, 2017 @ 22:41:37 »
A very interesting read Maik. Must say I have never come across a citron. Do they have them in Kefalonia?

An interesting read, none of which would be widely known.
There are citron trees on Kefalonia and I am aware of two trees in different parts of Katelios.

Offline Maik

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Re: On This Day
« Reply #6 on: Monday, 18 September, 2017 @ 01:04:41 »
Yes, I'm sure I've seen them growing on Kef but no idea where I saw them, bound to be around Poros.
To be honest, I thought they were just deformed lemons!  :iroll:

Also had one served with my meal instead of a lemon. They really aren't very juicy!

This isn't something I'd normally post, but it fits the topic nicely:

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HÉLAS! Sephardic-Greek food arrives in town just in time for Rosh Hashanah
http://theberkshireedge.com/helas-sephardic-greek-food-arrives-in-town-just-in-time-for-rosh-hashanah/