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The present work focuses on the underlying seminal causes of the Annihilation of Jewish Greeks in Bulgarian occupied Northern Greece, in particular the regions of Eastern Macedonia the cities of Kavala, Serres and Drama and Thrace the cities of Alexandroupolis, Komotini and Xanthialong with the Annihilation of their libgo of the cities of Didimoteixo, Nea Orestiada and Soufli of the Evros Prefecture of Thrace occupied by the Germans 70 years ago.
A definition of the Holocaust is given that broadens the term beyond prestiada peak point that of the actual assassination of Jews by the Germans and some of their allies. The definition includes all past historical events and practices that fermented the path orestiaad destruction of the European and North African Jewry during the World War II as well as the now and current state practices.
Starting milestones are the Preliminary Peace Treaty at San Stefano and the Peace Treaty at Berlin both of the yeareven though seeds of the later calamity were sowed much earlier: The sum total of seemingly unrelated historic events led inexorably to the final act of the tragedy. Also, the nation states that were created in the wake of the First World War and the ensuing Peace Treaties are shown to be fraught with all those ingredients that fertilize the national psyche to accept as legitimate racist and exclusive policies along with antiSemitic and prejudicial ones.
The distinction of Racial Anti—Semitism versus the millennia old Religious one is emphasized.
During the night of March 3rd to March 4th,Bulgarian Occupation Forces swept the towns of Alexandroupoli, Komotini, and Xanthi in Thrace and the towns of Kavala, Drama, and Serres in Macedonia and, in one swift stroke, they apprehended all Jewish Greek oresitada, rousing them in the middle of the night, confiscating their belongings and property.
They assembled and held them in mainly tobacco warehouses.
A few days later, they moved them to transitory points in Bulgaria proper 2. From there, they swiftly deported them outside the Bulgarian borders to the German Eastern Regions sicin accordance with the Dannecker — Belev Agreement signed in Sofia, on February 22nd, 3.
This was accomplished by delivering them, via Danube river boats, from Lom to Vienna. From there they were expedited by train convoys to Treblinka in occupied Poland 4. This sealed the fate of those souls and it marked the first ever instance of mass deportations and certain subsequent annihilation of Jewish Greeks from occupied Greek territory.
Actually, this marked the first time ever of deportation of Greeks with the sole intention that of their murder. This event took place livro full ten days before the first death train left Thessaloniki, with destination the Auschwitz—Birkenau Concentration and Death Camp, on March 15th, on German initiative.
This is factual History. Today we are here in the heart of the Balkans and, as the title of this Conference insinuates, we celebrate the millennia old presence of Oredtiada across the Balkans, their history, society and orestuada. However, another way of approaching the topic is to change the order of the actors in the title and we arrive at the following: Lkbro Balkans and the Jews: History, Society and Culture.
In this context the Jewish inhabitant is peripheral pa and in the Balkans and to the nation—states that comprised and still do them.
How did the particularities of Balkan history and of the constituent societies affect the Jews present in this lla and were tangential to the greater picture? Also, how did particular politics of oa various Balkan nations were ancillary to fatal decisions taken by the others and vice versa? How did other ideas, politics, events and actions propagating and emanating from other European nations in the course of the last two centuries shaped, influenced and abetted the final decision of Bulgaria of the time to deport the Jewish Greeks?
Balkan History of the last two hundred years is inexorably linked with the fortunes and misfortunes of the Jews in the Balkans and vice versa. Without loss of generality, the lower half of Central Balkans as well as the Southern Balkans constituted part of the Ottoman Empire.
Centuries old simmering orestiwda of the non—Muslim populations being subjugated people and the emergence and awakening of national consciousness and aspirations lead to the beginning of the disintegration of Ottoman dominance in the area. The Empire or the Sublime Porte never understood and never addressed early on and sufficiently enough all those factors that would librk its cohesion.
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The same holds true also for the Austro—Hungarian Empire. The first people to rebel and throw off the yoke of Ottoman subjugation were the Greeks in After all their national consciousness spanned millennia language wise, their lineage was traced in Hellenized Byzantium, and Orthodox Christianity, since the 4th Century CE, further cemented the nation. The provisional Constitution of Epidaurus in 6 guaranteed full freedom of Religious belief and worship.
The Treaties of London of that created the Modern Greek State enshrined full emancipation for all 7. This principle was a constitutional mandate of all succeeding Greek Constitutions. Greece never recognized minorities only Greeks equal under lubro Law. Civil rights were de rigueur as opposed to group rights. As expected, the Sublime Porte became apprehensive that other Christian people of the Balkans might follow suit.
In addition, the Great Powers of the time, especially Russia, were also vying to expand territorially or acquire influence with the Christian populations at the expense of the Ottoman Empire. The Sublime Porte started the process of divide and rule disguising it as the carrot and the stick. A paradigm of the latter was the Danubian Principalities, Wallachia and Moldavia, precursors of modern day Romania.
At the Treaty of Paris on March 30, they were put under the higher authority of the Porte 9. Arduous deliberations in Constantinople by the conference of representatives of the powers resulted in the laying down of the Principles of February 11, which introduced the basic principles of civil and other rights for all inhabitants of the Principalities, something that the proclaimed livro of the rulers of the newly semi—autonomous areas was completely against Nonetheless, their desires prevailed and a watered down article supposedly guaranteeing those rights appeared at the Paris Convention between Great Britain, Austria, France, Prussia, Russia, Sardinia, and Turkey, relative to the organization of the principalities of Moldavia and Wallachia signed at Paris, August 19, The enjoyment of those rights may be extended ogestiada other religions by legislative arrangements.
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This phenomenon of Treaty Articles creating ambivalence and not being clear—cut and forceful will reappear, with boring regularity, in future similar treaties and conventions! Even the thought of emancipation ogestiada granting of rights to Jews in Roumania was anathema to its rulers.
They concerned themselves more with the ways to keep them apart than to integrate them into the national fabric The means to achieve and maintain this apartheid were the withholding of citizenship which was the precondition for acquiring full rights.
Even in Russia, Jews were second class citizens but citizens nevertheless. With the benefit of hindsight, this was the first measure that the German Reich took for disenfranchising Jewish Germans, who, automatically, reverted to just being German Jewish subjects — not citizens It was also a crucial step in Bulgarian occupied Eastern Macedonia and Thrace not to grant Bulgarian citizenship — and thus protection — to indigenous Jewish Greeks, hence putting them in a precarious position.
This demonstrates that the devastation of European Jews in general and of their brethren in the Balkans in particular during WWII was an incremental process, and the cause was the sum total of the accrued minor or major steps and events. The persecution and mistreatment of the Jews were such in Wallachia and Moldavia that, amongst others, Correspondence respecting the Persecution of Jews in Moldavia, totaling 33 pages was presented to both Houses of Parliament in the UK in However, it seems that the mistreatment of Jews was the norm and not the exception in the area as it is reflected in the Correspondence Presented to Parliament respecting the condition and treatment of the Jews in Servia in totaling 31 pages, and in the Correspondence Presented to Parliament respecting the condition and treatment of the Jews in Servia and Roumania: The Sublime Porte is not standing idle; now is the opportune time to divide and rule the Christian subjects of the Empire, mainly in the Balkans.
The agitation of various majority Christian populations against the domination of the Porte, also acquiring ethno—national characteristics on the way, alarms it. Via the Exarchate, the national awakening and rallying point of Bulgarians is strengthened to the detriment of the Rum— Hellenic element To the above we have to append the interest shown by the Powers, especially Russia sharing the Orthodox Christian creed, in portraying themselves as the sole protectors of the well being of the Christian subjects of the Sublime Porte Actually their concern was overwhelmingly geopolitical using their professed worry for their co—religioners as the excuse for their self—serving interests.
The Preliminary Peace Treaty of San Stefano 20in the wake of the Conclusion of the Turkish — Russian war, created a Greater Bulgaria at the expense of other native national groups which were opposed Also, the other powers were worried of a large Bulgaria under Russian influence So, in the Berlin Peace Congress a few months later and in the Treaty signed on July 13th,the final size of Bulgaria was much reduced This left a perpetual resentment that fueled continued irredentism.
By the way, intervention by major European Jewish Communities, during the deliberations, was instrumental in including clauses about religious freedom and political rights for their brethren for Serbia, Roumania and Bulgaria Unfortunately, these remained, in most instances, dead letters. This was enhanced also by the mistreatment of Jews in Russia proper, as it is documented, just a few years latter inin the Correspondence respecting the orestiaca of Jews in Russia, presented to both Houses of Parliament and totaling 74 pages For decades, Roumania, for example, hindered the acquisition of citizenship by its Jewish inhabitants as an expedient for not granting rights With the conclusion of the Balkan wars of and and the end of the Great War 32Bulgaria is left without the coveted access to the Aegean Sea and still fretting and grudging for the loss of the San Stefano territories, now even more so.
The inclusion of Articles on Minority Group rights in the various Peace Treaties as well as particular articles on religious liberties and other rights in specific Treaties pertinent to specific laa such as the Treaty of Neuilly—sur—Seine for Bulgaria 33 which, actually, reiterated previous commitments as regards to those, attest two things: First, the nation — states in question in our part of the world, that is Serbia, Bulgaria and Romania, were continuously lukewarm in transubstantiating Treaty commitments and their own Constitutional mandates into deeds Second, the Jews, by not belonging to any national group and, oreztiada, having no particular nation — lirbo to claim and care for them, are left powerless.
The glorification of group rights at the expense and detriment of the civil rights boded dire omens for the Jewish inhabitants During the inter war years and up to the invasion of Greece and Yugoslavia by the German Reich in April 6,the various attitudes of discrimination and intolerance, as well as age orestiafa practices of prejudicial Anti — Judaism orestiava Yugoslavia, Bulgaria oresstiada Romania, are molded into an underlying ensemble of mind—setting stances and negative feelings towards the Jews.
Even though not officially sanctioned, they are nonetheless maintained by the state and permeated the society at large. In the mean time in Germany, the Reich is in power.
Already millennia old religious Anti — Semitism has mutated to a racial one. This is another pseudo scientific concoction in the quiver of the determined lbiro assassins. The Jew, the perennial outsider and the occasional standard scapegoat for all ills, does not belong to the Volk It is in this climate of creeping Fascism and National Socialism oredtiada Europe is heading to a crisis.
Opportunism takes hold of the foreign relations orientation of Bulgaria of the time Realism drives the actions and reactions of Yugoslavia, sharing now a common border with the Reich. So, the first passes the Law for the Protection of the Nation 39 to please Hitler and the second two Anti—Semitic Laws in order to appease him Furthermore, the accession of Bulgaria to the Tripartite Pact was rewarded, just a couple of months later, with oredtiada concession of Greek occupied territory that of Eastern Macedonia and Thrace However, Yugoslavia was occupied since, in the end, it renounced its association with the Reich and, thus, was invaded.
Jewish Greeks remained such albeit all the efforts of the occupiers to turn them against their Christian brethren. In early the fortunes of war for the Axis were changing inevitably for the worse The Germans became impatient and were pressing for deliverance of the Jews for transport to the Eastern Reich Territories.
The Bulgarians of the time, even though not genocidist, had to repay the German largess and, thus, the fate of the Jews of the new Bulgarian Territories was lkbro The step from plain Anti — Semitism to annihilation loomed, and was proven so, very short. This effectively concludes the events. Bulgaria today has no comparison with its old self. Neither has Romania or Serbia for that matter. Nonetheless some issues with accepting responsibility for acts of the past remain.
I am optimistic that they will be resolved. In that respect, as well as for educative orestada for the younger generations, Memory and Remembrance of past events play a pivotal role. Remembrance should be a continuous dynamic process and not an instantaneous static one. That entails activities, historiography, argumentation, research, education and teaching.
In Greece the calamity that befell the far superior numeric wise Jewish community of Thessaloniki 45 overshadowed the destruction of the Jewish Greeks of the Bulgarian occupied territories.