Sunday, January 23, 2011

The extermination of the Jewish community of Drama (1941-1943)

by Pr. I.K. Hassiotis
Lengthy extract from an article published in Chronika, 25/178 .March-April 2002, p. 6–12

There is historical evidence of the presence of a Jewish population in Eastern Macedonia in general, and in the Drama district in particular, from at least as far back as the early centuries of Turkish rule. This presence becomes more marked in the 19th century, a period when Drama and its neighbouring cities of Serres and Kavala were developing into notable production and trade centres within Northern Greece. Indeed, it is highly significant that some of the Jews of Drama, breaking to a certain degree with the tradition that identified them always and exclusively with urban craft and commercial trades, were associated with economic sectors directly dependent on rural activities – particularly so on tobacco cultivation. This change was marked in the early years of the 20th century by an increasingly broad rapprochement between Christians, Muslims and Jews in the occupational sector, after centuries of socio-religious demarcation.

This rapprochement continued during the difficult period of the first Bulgarian occupation (1912–1913). It is worth noting that this convergence, which constituted a kind of defence against the persecution of the new rulers, was encouraged by the religious leaders of all three communities, with...