The largest concentration of Sephardic Jews in modern Greece after the conclusion of the Balkan Wars of 1912-1913 was in the city of Salonica. By their numbers, they dwarfed the other Jewish communities in Greece. The city, however, was not the only place where Jews and Greeks would interact in contemporary times. That would actually start with the birth of the country.
In September 1821, the Greek insurgents led by Colocostronis, entered the city of Tripoli in the Morea. There a large Chilian refugee population of some 30,000 people had gathered to escape die rebels in other parts of the peninsula. Among them were some 5,000 to 8,000 Jews- Sepharadis and Romaniotes.
When the Greeks entering the town gave vent to their thirst for blood, less than a third of the inhabitants were able to survive. According to the foreign supporters who joined d٦e Greeks during that war, men, women and children, Turks and Jews were indiscriminately massacred.
This was the first encounter between Greeks and Jews in modern Greece. To understand the hatred of the Greeks towards the Jews, three explanations are worth investigating: the faithfulness of the Jews to the Ottoman and later the Turkish nation, the religious anti-Semitism of some members of the Greek Orthodox clergy and population, and the economic rivalries between Greeks and Jews in the Eastern Mediterranean.
The few Jews who managed to survive the early years of the war in Greece and were included in the small independent Greek kingdom of the Bavarian prince, Othon I, were immediately shaken by the Pacifico affair in 1847. Traditionally, during the Greek Easter, an effigy of Judas, called the Jew in Greek, is paraded through the streets, stoned by the inhabitants and later burned. In that year, however, Baron Rothschild was visiting Athens, where the government, looking for a loan, decided to prevent this show of overt anti-Semitism. Furious at being denied their fun, the Greek mobs turned their furry at the house of one of the few Sepharadis li١٦ng in Athens, David Pacifico. A British subject, born in Gibraltar, Pacifico managed to escape and take refuge in the British Consulate. Using the Pacifico affair to influence the government of King Othon, Great Britain asked for compensation for its subject and sent its fleet to blockade the harbor of Piraeus in 1850. The government of Othon finally acceded to Britain's demand, further poisoning the life of the few Jews who remained in the country.
Fourteen years later, the Jewish population of Greece increased because of the annexation of Corfou and the other Ionian Islands to the small Kingdom, now under a British-supported prince from Denmark, who would become George I. He brought with him the Ionian islands wliicli liave been a Britisli protectorate since 1815. Some 2,000 Italian speaking Jews li١'ed in the city of Corfou, on the island of the same name, and a few hundred were found on the island of Zante. A Venetian colony for many cerrturies, the Jews did not fare ١ery well under British rule, wltich at die insistence of the native Greek Ordrodox population, excluded diem from voting and from holding public offices, althouglr they accounted for some 15% of the total population of the town.
Under tire liberal rule of the new Danish prince, the Jews of Corfou were given back their foil rights as citizen, wliicli they had enjoyed wlren die islands were briefly occupied by France in the 179O'S. They became an important element in the political and economic life of the island, but deep down, the anti-Semitism of die Greek Orthodox population of Corfou would soon counteract the good intentions of the Danish prince. In the 1870s an ambitious politician and journalist, Yakovos Polylas, writing in the newspapers Peripaiktis, Kodan and Rigas o Feraios liad started to attack die Jewisli community. His sentiments found fertile ground among the Greek population of Corfou.
On April 2, 1891, the mutilated body of a young Jewisli girl, Roubina Sardas, was found on the street next to the synagogue. Immediately Polylas and his cohorts spread die rumor that the girl was really Cliristian and that die Jews liad killed her for her blood. Tliat year, Passover fell on April 23, 2 days after the Greek Orthodox Easter, a traditional time of trouble for Jews living among the Greeks. Ritual murder allegations spread rapidly througliout Greece and in Corfou, Greek mobs invaded the Jewish neighborhoods, killing and looting without police interference.
Afraid of the bad publicity Greece was getting in the European capitals, the government finally sent army reinforcements to Corfou in May of 1891, a month after the start of the pogrom. Tliat same summer, massive emigration of Jews started from the Ionian islands, towards the Ottoman Empire and Western Europe. In Zante, from 271 Jews before die pogrom, the population fell to 30. In Corfou, over- lialf of die Jewisli population left the island. The few per-petrators arrested by die authorities for the murder and pillaging of the Jews were finally tried the following year and given sentences ranging from 5 to 12 years, but the government refused to clear the Jews, including the father of Roubina Sardas who was accused of killing her. The murderer was never found.
Six years later, the small Jewish community of Crete, still part of the Ottoman Empire, which had already faced a threat from the Greek rebels in 1866, was threatened once more when a new rebellion started in 1897. The few hundred Jews who still lived in Canea and Candia, and had maintained their faithfulness to the Sultan, were forced to flee to İzmir, when the big powers instituted an autonomous government for Crete, under the nominal suzerainty of the Sultan.
Those same powers had earlier forced the Ottoman Empire to relinquish the province of Thessaly and the district of Arta in 1881, but in 1897, during the rebellion in Crete, Greece declared war on the Ottoman Empire and suffered a quick defeat. Turkish troops entered Larissa, the capital of Thessaly which they occupied for a year, until forced by the big powers to return it to Greece. The small Jewish population of Larissa, Trikkala and Volos, accused of collaborating with the Ottomans by the returning Greek administration was persecuted by the Greek population which blamed the Jews for the defeat of its armies. In Trikkala, shots were fired into Jewish homes and an attempt was made to burn the synagogue. In Larissa, the mob, aided by the police, invaded the businesses and homes of the Jews; many were imprisoned, accused of having helped the Turkish authorities during the war. Soon a large Jewish emigration to the Ottoman Empire, especially to Izmir and Salonica followed the attacks of the mobs upon Jewish businesses and houses. Larissa was especially hard hit and saw its Jewish population shrink in numbers.
The situation was no better in Epirus, still part of the Ottoman Empire at the time, where the Jewish community of Janina, both Sepharadis and Romaniotes could only survive with the protection of Turkish troops. Jewish traveling salesmen, the economic life blood of the province were abducted and killed by Greek brigands and their ears dumped in the courtyard of the synagogue.
It was however the Balkan Wars that would dramatically alter the situation of the Jewish community in Greece, by bringing into the picture the large, progressive and assertive Sephardic population of Salonica7. The Jewish population of Greece would grow from 8,000 to more
than 80,000, the overwhelming majority Sepharadis, with tire occupation of Salonica and tire other smaller centers of Jewish life in sonthern Macedonia.
Under the liberal rule of the Ottoman Empire, Salonica Irad seen its Sephardic population prosper and grow to nearly two third of the 150,000 inhabitants of the town, at the time of the Greek occupation. Tire ecorromic life of this port city, the gateway of the Balkans, was in the hands of the Sepharadis, which firrther antagonized tire small Greek population of the town. Economic competition, cloaked in tire mantel of Greek nationalism, and religious anti-Semitism would color tire relations of the two commtmities until the extermination of the Sepharadis by the Germans and their Greek collaborators during the Second World War.
Salonica, at the turn of the century was a bustling commercial city, serving as the major outlet of Balkan trade. With tire vast hinterland of Macedonia behind it, and with rail coimections to Istanbul to the East, Monas til- to the West, and Uskub to the North, Salonica was connected to the railroad that reached Central Europe tlnrougln Belgrade. A port of call of all the major Mediterranean shipping lines, Salonica's harbor was in tine hands of the Sepharadis, wino kept it closed on Saturdays.
When the Turkisln commander, of the city, Tahsin Pasha, capitulated on November 9, 1912 to the advancing Greek troops, soon to be followed by tine Bulgarians, the local Greek population gave vent to centuries of jealousy and frustration, by turning against the civilian Sephardic and Turkisln inhabitants. Rather than containing the violent mobs, the Greek troops often joined them in their attacks.
Foreign observers from the international press filled their newspapers with articles on tine atrocities of the early days of the Greek occupation. Tine Times of London of November 26, 1912, reported that the Turks and tine Sepharadis were stopped in every street and "rigorously searched from head to foot... (they) were robbed of their watches, purses and similar objects of value. Any attempt at resistance was met by personal violence. Greek officers were eye-witnesses of these incidents and raised not a hand to curb the zeal of their men." The same article pointed out that "the principal sufferers have been the Jews. Inaugurated by the local Greek press a crusade of anti- Semitism has spread over the armies, with the result that the unfortunate Israelites have been pillaged and mercilessly ill treated."
Le Temps of Paris, in an article of November 26, 1912, pointed out that many Jews were maltreated, brutalized and robbed and that stores were pillaged and synagogues wrecked.
The Jewish Chronicle of London, in an article of January 3, 1913, deplored the lack of response by the Greek authorities. "Owing to the perfect freedom from restraint enjoyed by malefactors here, excesses against the Jews are on the increase...Despite all the promises made, the lives and property of our coreligionists are not yet secured." In its issue of January 24, 1913, it likened the fate of the Jews of Salonica to tlrat of some persecuted Jewish communities in Russia arrd Rumania and warned that "if the present is bad, die outlook irr the future is worse." lit an editorial in its November 24, 1913 issue, tire Chronicle blamed the situation on the "profound liatred and jealousy of the Jews (that is) deeply embedded in tire hearts of the Greeks.
One of the most serious incidents tliat occurred during the early montlis of the Greek occupation was the murder of two prominent Jewish merchants, David Amir and Jacques Franses, on December 24, 1912. The funeral procession for tire two victims was vividly described in the Jewish Chronicle ofjanuar-y 10, 1913. "The entire Jewish population paid the last liomage to the poor martyrs. All the Jewish wareliouses and sliops, and most of the shops belonging to the Mohammedans, were closed. An enormous pi'oeession, estimated at 12,000 followed the cortege." At one point they were blocked from advancing by the Greek autliorities. "Captain Axialos, of the gendarmes, followed by some soldiers and gendarmes ordered those who were in the front ranks of die procession to disperse (and)...directed the soldiers to load their rifles.  The cortege, headed by Chief Rabbi Meir refused and continued on its way towards the lines of soldiers who backed down.
The numerous Sephardic schools in the city also suffered from the Greek occupation; parents were afraid to send their children out in the streets because of the Greek mobs. In a letter of December 4, 1912 to the Alliance Israelite Uuiverselle headquarters in Paris, Albert Cohen, head of the Allatini school, one of the largest in Salonica, wrote that "all the self interested justification of the newspapers of Europe, all the lies which they have used to cover up the truth, can never destroy the impressions of the terrible anguish which marked the entry of the Greeks into Salonica. A week of terror and horror one can never easily forget...The mob has shown itself odious and the government weak...The incompetence of the Greek administration and the horrors inflicted by the soldiers has put them in a terrible situation. 
The concern for the atrocities committed on the Sepharadis by the Greeks in Salonica, spurred numerous inquiries on the part of world Jewry. A joint commission of the Anglo-Jewish Association and the German-Jewish Hilfsverein, under Paul Nathan of Vienna, Elkan Adler of London and Bernard Kahn of Brussels, toured the Balkans in January 1913 and reported that the situation for the Jews in Salonica was far worse than that in Serbian and Bulgarian territories. Another commission of inquiry sponsored by the Shield of Israel of the United States, sent Henry Green to the area. Writing in the New York Times of March 9, 1913, Green pointed out that "the treatment that our people have already suffered at Salonika under Greek domination is appalling. 
The American Jewish Committee, headed at the time by Louis Marshall asked die United States government to intercede in order to protect the lives of the Sepharadis in Salonica. Herbert Friedenwald, secretary of the Committee, issued a request for the State Department to protest, pointing out that "when Salonica was captured by the Greeks, a number of Jews were murdered, their houses and shops pillaged and the women outraged. Similar excesses have occurred in several places in the possession of the Greeks. 
Adolph Kraus, international president of the B'nai B'rith sent a strong letter to American Secretary of State Knox, asking him to protest the behavior of die Greek troops in Salonica. "The Greeks are plundering the Jewish quarters in Salonica, destroying synagogues and attacking women. The German and French ambassadors have protested at Athens. We pray die American Government to do likewise. 
The small Sephardic Jewish community in the United States held an emergency meeting on November 24, 1913, under the leadership of Dr. De Sola Pool and Dr. Pereira Mendes, to coordinate the response to the Greek atrocities.
The accusation of ritual murder which some members of the Greek Orthodox clergy propagated among masses of fanatic people, had its usual effect in Salonica and was especially serious in that year since, according to the New York Times of April 3, 1913, "a general massacre of the Jewish inhabitants is imminent on the occasion of the Greek Easter and the Jewish Passover celebrations, which fall at the same time."
The Greeks also complained that Jewish houses and stores did not put out the Greek colors to celebrate their entry into Salonica. The Greek press of the city, in partictdar the newspaper Embros, started an anti-Semitic campaign, accusing the Sepharadis of treason because they did not show their enthusiasm for die entry of the Greek troops.
Writing about those events in a book published after tire Balkan Wars, Britislr Iristorian Crawford Price, interviewing the Chief Rabbi of Salonica, Jacob Meir, wrote that tire Rabbi believed "that his people were Ottoman citizens, (and) felt the keenness of tire Turkislr defeats as such, and it was but natural that they should appear more mournful thanjubilant. 
The fate of Salonica at tire London Peace Conference called by the major powers, and presided over by the French Ambassador in that city, Paul Cambon, was especially important for the Sepharadis. Their fate was being decided without consulting them and tlrey Irad no voice in tire eventual disposition of the city, although they represented tine bulk of the population. Cambon clearly foresaw tine difficulties that Salonica would present for the parties involved. Writing to his brother Jules, on April 20, 1913, Paul Cambon pointed out that "the Jews, who are 75,000 against 25,000 Greeks and 10,000 to 12,000 of other mixed nationalities, fear the Greek domination...Yesterday I received the delegates of a Jewish-Turkish Committee who are asking for the formation of a smaller Macedonia with Salonica as its capital. 
The leader of that delegation was a Sephardic official of the Ottoman Empire, Rousso Bey, Chief Secretary of die Turkish Ministry of Finance, who, in a letter to the Jewish Chronicle of May 16, 1913, advocated the formation of an autonomous territory, under the guarantee of the great powers.
The Alliance Israélite Universelle which had opened numerous schools throughout the Ottoman Empire during the previous 40 years, was especially fearful of the nationalistic and anti-Semitic agenda of the Greek government. Its Secretary-General, Jacques Bigart, writing to Paleologue, the Director of Political Affairs at the Quai d'Orsay, expressed his fear for the well-being of the 52 schools of die Alliance, serving some 10,000 Sephardic students in the provinces lost by the Ottoman Empire.
Another plan advanced by die Zionist leader Max Nordau, in a letter to the Times of London, on December 30, 1912, would have made of Salonica a free international city under the protection of the big powers. "In such case the Jewish element which forms the relative majority in Salonika would be called upon to play the leading part in the organization of the new Commonwealth.  Austria-Hungary was also in favor of such a plan.
For the Sephardim, whose first choice was the restoration of the city to the Ottoman Empire, any other political disposition, other than Greek annexation, was much more appealing. The memory of the pogrom of 1891 in Corfou did not speak too well of Greek intentions.
Both Greece and Bulgaria tried to gain the alliance of Jewish public opinion at the opening of the London Peace Conference and to obtain the support of die Sepharadis of Salonica, the major prize of this war.
Bulgaria mounted a major propaganda drive in order to convince the Sepharadis and world Jewish organizations that Sofia would treat its Jewish citizens better than Athens. Dr. Daneff, Bulgarian chief representative at the Peace Conference, in an interview with the Jewish Chronicle, pledged diat "the Jews in the new Bulgarian provinces...would be treated with the same justice and good will as the Jews in Bulgaria have hitherto been treated,  Daneff further pointed out that 45,000 Jews already lived in Bulgaria and that the Bulgarian economic market presented better opportunities for the Sepharadis of Salonica than the Greek markets. If annexed to Greece, Salonica would lose its preeminence as the commercial center of the Balkans because of Greek custom tariffs.
To add weight to its campaign, Sofia enlisted the help of its Chief Rabbi, Dr. Ehrenpreis, who introduced to the King the Delegation of International Jewish Organizations touring the area. In a report published in the Jewish Chronicle, the Delegation reported that "the King...was most benevolent and friendly. 
In an interview with the French newspaper Le Matin, Dr. Ehrenpreis stressed the two major reasons why the Sepharadis of Salonica would be better off under Bulgaria than under Greece: first the Greeks are anti- Semitic and second the vast hinterland of Bulgaria was necessary for die economic survival of the city as an international transit port and a major commercial center.
In May, Dr. Ehrenpreis went to London in order to add more weight to the Bulgarian claims over Salonica and tried to convince the Conference of Ambassadors, the press and the international Jewish community that the Sepharadis would be better off under Bulgarian than under Greek control. Pointing out the similarity of professional pursuits between the Sepharadis and the Greeks in the commercial field, and the traditional Greek anti- Semitism, Dr. Ehrenpreis predicted that "if Salonica becomes Greek, the Jews will be forced to emigrate" while the 80,000 Sepharadis of Salonica and its surrounding area, if joined to the 45,000 Jews in Bulgaria, would feel more comfortable with Sofia than with Athens, especially since the "Greek population is not favorably disposed and the government cannot control them. 
Recalling his personal experience in Edirne which he visited when Bulgaria occupied the city for a while, Dr. Ehrenpreis described the looting of the Jewish houses by the local Greek population and the beginning of a pogrom, which he stopped by intervening with the Bulgarian authorities to restrain the Greeks. Ending his interview, the Chief Rabbi declared that "none of the difficulties to which I have referred would arise if the city (Salonica) were controlled by Bulgaria. 
In the face of the Btdgarian campaign, there was very little that Greece could do to convince the Conference of Ambassadors, the international Jewish organizations and especially the Sepharadis of Salonica that they would be better off under Athens than under Sofia.
Venizelos, the Prime Minister who headed the Greek delegation at the Peace Conference, denied the charges made by Danoff, but also realized that the bad press that Greece was getting over the atrocities committed by the Greeks on the Sepharadis in Salonica, could jeopardize the claim that Athens had.
In order to counteract the Bulgarian campaign, he asked a few leaders of the small Jewish community in Greece that did not reach 8,000 souls, to go to Salonica. At the end of 1912, Constantinis, Cohen and Gani, respective leaders of the Jewish communities in Athens, Larissa and Volos, arrived in Salonica, where they were received by King George, but were unable to win over the Sephardic leadership of the city. As Ottoman citizens, the Sepharadis of Salonica and the other areas cottqnered by Greece, had no reason to change the status quo and lose the benevolent rille of tire government of the Sirltans. Neither Greece, nor Bulgaria, nor Serbia, could ever match the friendly relations drat liad existed between tire Sepharadis and the Turks in the Ottoman Empire. Tire Sepharadis realized however tlrat the Conference of London would never return Salonica to the Ottoman Empire and would not take into consideration the wishes of the local populations, be they Jews or Moslems. Tlrey therefore tried at least to prevent a Greek annexation, the worse of all possibilities for tire Sepharadis.
Summing up the efforts of Venizelos and of Greece to present a better image to the world, thejewish Chronicle, in an editorial, found no reason to cheer; "notwithstanding all these conciliatory measures, the end desired lias not been attained, for the Jews continue to regal’d the Greeks as enemies, owing to the acts of violence wliich are still being committed. Sliops and houses are being looted as before, and no one is being punislied. How in sucli conditions can we pirt faitli in fine phrases? 
There were many contradictions between the statements by Athens and the behavior of the authorities in Salonica. Altliough King George and his troops occupied the city, the army did not restrain the local Greek population and did little to allay tire frars of die Sepliai’adis.
Le Temps, of Paris, in an article at the end of 1912, pointed out tliat "parmi les problèmes macédoniens qu'on a à coeur à Aliènes de résoudre au plus site, c'est de faire dispai’aitre !'antisémitisme de la Macédoine...Le gouvernement grec donne des instructions de nature â convaincre les Israélites de Salonique que la liberté et l'égalité parfaites seront garanties et que les Juifs trouvei’ont aupi’ès des autorités grecques protection et sympathie. 
Upon arriving in Salonica, the Delegation of Intel-national Jewisli Organizations met with King George and raised its concei’iis over the atrocities committed during the occupation, the cliange of the weekly market day to Saturday, which prevented die Jews from attending, and the general attitude of die authorities in not punishing the perpetrators of the attacks on the Sepharadis.
Venizelos himself went to Salonica at the beginning of 1913, where he met widi the Chief Rabbi. In an interview given to the Jewish Chronicle after the meeting, Rabbi Meir said that Venizelos "frankly admitted that we had ample reasons to be attached to the Turks who had accorded us important communal prhileges and he assured (me) that one of the first cares of the Hellenic Government would be to maintain and extend all those pri١ileges both as regards the Gabellas (communal taxes) and...the Chief Rabbinate, so that our community might prosper more and more. 
Relations between the Sepharadis and the Greek occupying forces were further strained when King George was assassinated by a deranged Greek. The local Greek press in Salonica and in other Greek cities immediately accused the murderer, Skinas, of being Jewish and Jews were attacked in the streets. Even in Istanbul, the Greek newspaper Neologos quickly spread that lie, and in Edirne, occupied then by the Bulgarians, the Greek Metropolitan of the city told the Chief Rabbi, Haim Bejerano, "that the Jews had rejoiced at the death of die King. 
The Second Balkan War, which saw the defeat of Bulgaria, gave the city of Salonica to Greece by the Treaty of Bucharest of August 10, 1913. The efforts of die Sepharadis to prevent such a development had failed and their worse fears were realized. A few mondis later the First World War saw Greece divided between a pro-Allies government under Venizelos in Salonica and a neutral government, leaning towards Germany, under King Constantine in Athens. Soon Allied troops landed in Salonica, bringing some economic relief to the city diat had suffered from the Balkan Wars. By 1917, Venizelos entered Athens and forced the abdication of Constantine in favor of his son Alexander, while joining die side of the Allies in the War.
That same year would see a most disastrous fire hit the city of Salonica on August 5. Within a few hours, the entire commercial heart of the city would be destroyed and oven 70,000 people, among them 52,000 Sepliaiadis and 11,000 Turks, would lose their houses and their livelihoods. Over 2/3 of tire city and some 8.000 buildings would be destroyed, tire majority owned by tire Seplraradis. The fire of 1917, wlricli spread so quickly and which Iras never beet) fully explained, would do more to destroy the Sephardic character of Saloirica than anything else Athens could have done.
Anrericatr journalist Charles Upson Clark, writing ill tire New York Times, two years after tire fire, pointed ottt that "tire government never issued a satisfactory explanation and tire natural suspicions of tire inhabitants were accentuated by the shouts of joy raised in tire leading Liberal daily ol" Atlrerrs over the disappeararrce of tire ancient glretto of Macedonia." 
Taking advantage of tire calamity, a week after' tire fire Irad died, tire government decided to confiscate all tire latrd affected by tire fire and to rebuild tire city on a completely new plan. The old landowners would receive government bonds equivalent to tire nominal valtte of their land and could then bid on tine lots when the government plan was implemented. More tlnan anytlning else, tlnis would reduce thousands of Sephardic families to destitution and would be tine most devastating blow to tine economic power that the Seplraradis Ineld in tine city for the last four lumdred years.
Visiting tire town, nearly 10 years after the fire, Israel Cohen, writing in the newspaper'Menorah Journal, Irad tlnis to say about tine city. "I was taken to the scene of desolation...Her'e, before the war. a tmnultitotts traffic swarmed; but now the ships in the gtrlf wet'e few and small. Fronting the sea for the lengtln of a mile, and a little distance away from it, lay tine clnarred
ruins of the once famous Ghetto, a somber succession of collapsed walls, battered buildings. 
The arrival of Greek refugees from Asia Minor would also change the demographic picture of Salonica, making die Sepharadis a minority in a city where dtey had always been a majority. Athens' policy was to eradicate 400 years of Ottoman and Sephardic history and presence in Salonica. With the exchange of population with Turkey, agreed upon at the Treaty of Lausanne in 1923, the Turks and the Domneh left Salonica, leaving only the Sepharadis to face the Greek policies of Hellenization.
For the next 20 years, the Sephardic community of Salonica would be further eroded by the anti-Semitic policies of Venizelos and his Liberal party which will controlled the newly formed Republic from 1924 to 1936, when King George II was restored to the throne.
The economic power of the Sepharadis already diminished by the loss of the markets in Salonica's hinterland in d٦e Balkans and in the other parts of the Ottoman Empire and later on in the Republic of Turkey, would be further eroded when Greece imposed a series of discriminatory measures. A high protective tariff; change of the market day to Saturday, the Jewish Sabbath, so that the Sepharadis would not be able to participate; the change of the weekly day of rest to Sunday; import permits issued by the government which favored the Greek Orthodox importers and drove the Sepharadis out of business; die imposition of Greek, a language that no Sepharadis knew, as the only language allowed in government transactions and in keeping the books; and finally the immigration of boatmen from Piraeus who were favored by the authorities over the Sepharadis who had monopolized all jobs related to the harbor for the last 400 years; these were some of the measures taken by die government to destroy the economic power of the Sepharadis.
With a sharp decline in the economic power of the Sephardic community, the Greek go١’ernment started to attack the Jewish educational system and closed many of the foreign schools, the majority of which, especially the French schools, catered to die Jewish students. It also forbade elementary school children from receiving an education other than in Greek, a language that was never spoken by the Sepharadis, while keeping die Jewish communal schools under strict governmental control.
In the political arena, the Venizelos government established a separate electoral college for die Sepharadis in Salonica and for die Turks in Western Thrace, thus diluting the vote of die minorities. By voting against Venizelos and his xenophobic policies during the first all inclusive elections of June 1915, the Sepharadis incurred his wradi. From then on, until his fall in 1936, the Sepharadis of Salonica would be openly demonized by Venizelos and his cohorts.
The culmination of Venizelos' anti-Semitic policies occurred on Monday June 29, 1931, when a mob of some 2,000 Greeks ransacked the Sephardic suburb of . Campbell, housing some 220 Jewish families. Hundreds of Sepharadis were wounded and fled to the center of Salonica, while the Greek mob set fire to the houses, including those of the rabbi and the doctor, the synagogue, the community center and the school. The Greek police stood by outside the neighborhood and only went in after the fire was set.
In Athens, the President of the Republic, Alexander Zaimis, and Prime Minister Venizelos, who came back to power in 1928, had never reined in the extreme, xenophobic and anti-Semitic newspapers and political groups. The Governor-General of Macedonia, Gonatas, and the Mayor of Salonica, Harisios Vamvakas never responded adequately to the request of the Jewish community to disband the extremists' parties.
A few days before the pogrom of Campbell, a Greek mob tried to attack the Sepharadis in neighborhood #6 of Salonica, but were repulsed by a selfarmed local Jewish force, while the police stood by.
Anti-Semitic pamphlets were distributed by the National Association of University Students, under the leadership of Karakandas and Asthenides, while the extremist rabble rousers of the Ethniki Enosis Ellas, the National Union of Hellas, commonly called the Three Epsilon, EEE, led by Kosmidis and Haritopoulos, sacked the Maccabi recreation center. Other anti-Semitic groups such as the National Legion and the Pavlos Melas organization joined in the general harassment of die Sepharadis in Salonica.
The Campbell pogrom was followed by the destruction of die synagogue in the neighborhood of Harilaos and by a mob attack upon the Sepharadis in suburb #15. When the authorities finally decided to rein in the extremists, prodded by the bad publicity that Greece was receiving overseas, and brought the leaders of the attacks to justice, they were all acquitted .
Among the leaders of the anti-Semitic campaigns in Salonica was Nikos Fardis, editor of the newspaper Makedonia, founded in 1911. More than anydiing else Makedonia was responsible for the pogrom of Campbell.
The abolition of the Republic and the return of King George II in 1936, would soon be followed by the establishment of a military dictatorship under general Metaxas. For the next five years, the Sepharadis of Salonica and the other Jews of Greece would be free from any of the excesses of the anti- Semitism that was prevalent under the Republic of Venizelos.
Things would take a turn for the worse with the declaration of war by Italy on October 28, 1940, soon to be followed by Germany's entry into that war, which had seen the Italian advance repulsed. By April 24, 1941, Greece capitulated to the German, Italian and Bulgarian alliance. In the Bulgarian zone of occupation, wliich covered most of Western Thrace and Eastern Macedonia, including the towns of Kavala, Serres, Drama, Komotini and Alexandroupolis, the 11,000 Jews, most of them Sepharadis were handed over to the Germans for shipment to the extermination camps and eventual slaughter. The Italian zone, covered most of the country except for Piraeus, Western and Central Crete, the islands of Lemnos, Lesbos and Chios, the strip of land next to Turkish Thrace, and especially Salonica and its hinterland, the heart of Sephardic life in Greece. Until the Italian capitulation on September 8, 1943, Jews in Italianoccupied Greece were not persecuted, unlike tire policy tlrat the Germans established immediately after they entered Salonica. Such policies were quickly extended over the rest of Greece, when Germany took over the Italian zone.
Upon entering Salonica, the Germans immediately closed down all Jewish newspapers and resurrected the old anti-Semitic republican movements, such as the EEE and the Pavlos Melas, which resumed their activities. Jewish homes were expropriated, the community's treasures ransacked and a few Sepharadis were shot for socalled subversive activities. For over a year, until the summer of 1942, the 56,000 Sepharadis of Salonica, three-fourths of the total Jewish population of Greece, managed to survive the persecutions of the German army and their local Greek collaborators. Their mouthpiece became the newspaper Nea Evropi, which started printing on April 15 1941, under the editor-inchief Papastratigakis just six days after the Germans entered Salonica.
On July 11, 1942, tire German army commander of northern Greece, General von Krenzski, ordered all the male Sepharadis to gather irr tire center of town in Freedom Square, in order to receive their work card for civilian labor. Surrounded by armed men, with the local population watching from tire sidewalks and the balconies, some 10,000 Seplraradic men were kicked and beaten by German soldiers for the entire day. The next day they were at work in tire malaria infested swamps to the west of town.
By February of 1943, the ss took over from the army atrd sent Dieter Wisliceny and Alois Brunner to start the transport of the Salonican Jews to the extermination camps with the help of Dr Max Merten, the head of the city's military administration. Jews were told to move into several large ghettos. They had to start wearing the yellow star and were subjected to a special curfew. On March 15, the first transport of Sepharadis from Salonica had begun from the Baron Hirsch camp at the railroad station. The last transport left it) August of tlrat year.
The Greek collaborators were of course overjoyed at the fate of the Jews. The GovemorGeneral of Macedonia, Vasilis Simonides, who was appointed in December 1941 by the collaborator Prime Minister General Tsolakoglou, soon followed by Professor Logothetopoulos and by Rhallis in 1943, took advantage of tire German occupatiorr to take over the entire large Sephardic cemetery of Salonica and not only tire small part that the Germans had allowed the municipality to expropriate in order to expand the University. Mobs of Greeks soon rant paged tlrrough the 450 year old cemetery, breaking tire tombstones and appropriatirrg tlrem for building materials, that can still be found in the city today, in the walls of !rouses, on the pavements and even in the courtyard of Agios Dimitrios church.
Likewise, Jewish apartments atrd businesses were ransacked or turned over to Greek collaborators. Synagogues, schools, commttrrity buildings, libraries, were all knocked down by tire new owners for the buildirrg materials and the land was resold. Of the more than 30 synagogues that once belonged to the Jewish community, only one was left intact at the end of the war.
In general, outside of Salonica with its tradition of anti-Semitism brouglnt over by tine Greek refugees front Asia Minor, tine Jews stood a better cltance of survival, t!tanks to the support of the Greek population and especially of the resistance movement of EAM/EIAS. Furtltermore the fiat terrain around Salonica made it more difficult for die Sepharadis to escape to die mountains. Among the most important defenders of the Jews against the Germans and the Greek collaborators was a group of intellectuals, professionals and clerics under die leadership of the prelate Damaskinos, Greek Orthodox Archbishop of Adiens and all Greece.
When the war ended, less dian 10,000 Jews, out of a pre-war population of some 80,000, were alive, the majority having found shelter in the mountains. Few returned from the camps, and those that did, found Salonica a very hostile environment, with the authorities refusing to return properties to dieir rightful owners and the collaborators still in power. In the midst of a civil war when die Second World War ended, Royal Greece forgot the collaborators and at times enlisted their support to fight the EAMBLAS, former resistance fighters who were now embroiled in the international politics of die cold war.
Many of the Jews left and die small Jewish community, concentrated in Adiens, with a few hundred in Salonica has had to endure the vicissitudes of Venizelos' ghost and the pro-Arab and anti-Semitic policies of most of the succeeding governments, especially die Socialists.
Salonica, the heart of the Sephardic nation in the Ottoman Empire is no more. Even the souvenir of its Jewish presence has been eradicated after die great fire and the leveling of the Jewish cemetery. Sometimes one can see some Sephardic names on some of the stores, hastily covered by the new owners with a Greek sign. On November 23, 1997, nearly fifty years after the end of die Second World War, the memory of the Holocaust has finally been remembered in Salonica, with die erection of a monument to its Sephardic martyrs.