11 results

Mico Alvo

Beniko Saltiel was the son of Grandfather Daniel's elder brother. Beniko was the first timber merchant of Thessaloniki, the richest and most successful one. He was in the fifty-member council of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Thessaloniki. He knew my father very well. They had a good relationship. They had built a house together at the Androutsou bus stop, and when he stopped living there, it became the Yugoslavian Consulate.

My father didn't do business with any of his relatives. He had a different job than anyone else. All of them were in the lumber business. But this was a great business then because after the Great Fire, the whole of Thessaloniki was being rebuilt, so they needed thousands of acres of wood. And there weren't that many traders. At the new timber area there were about four or five timber shops.
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Renée Molho

Normally, I go to the cemetery in Thessaloniki, where the great majority of my relatives are buried. My father was buried in Athens. His dead body was taken care of by the Spanish embassy and I left as soon as possible and a couple of hours later the Germans were there, looking for me, but I was gone. When I left that house, I stayed with Mrs. Lembess and from there after many adventures went to Israel. I didn't know where my father was buried; it was only when I came back from Israel that I learned that he was buried in the Jewish section of the 1st cemetery of Athens, which is a Christian cemetery with this small Jewish section. Of course I have visited my father's grave and prayed and paid my respects.

In the cemetery I start with the grave of my mother who is buried with my grandfather, their names are Stella Saltiel and Samuel Saltiel. Then I go to the graves of Uncle David Abravanel, who died first, and then to Uncle Pepo Abravanel, then to Aunt Mitsa Abravanel. The next grave I go to is my husband Solon Molho's.

Then I go to the grave of Jeannette Bensousan, the mother of Rena Molho, my daughter-in-law, who is married to my son Mair. Next is Renée Avram, the second wife of Joseph Avram, a friend who had been married in his first marriage to my best friend, Tida Saporta, who later became sister-in-law to my sister, who married her brother Rafael. After that, I go to Mme. Gentille Saporta who is Tida's mother and her grave is next to my mother's.

Next I go to Maurice Haim. He was an employee we had at the shop who was killed by the 'rebels' when he was drafted into the army during the civil war [27]. I cannot remember any other Jews taking part in the civil war; after all it's sixty years back and I simply can't recall.

Then I go to the monument for the ones lost in the concentration camps and say a prayer. Then there is a series of rabbis, and I also say another prayer over their graves. Oh, I forgot, I also go to the graves of Uncle Sinto and Aunt Bella Saltiel, the brother of my father and his wife.

Of course, we recite the Kaddish at the memorial anniversary of my father's and mother's death. First, I refer to them and then I have written down all the names of the men and women that I feel should be remembered.

A few years ago I would go to the synagogue for those anniversaries, but now I call a rabbi to recite it at home. His name is Daviko Saltiel. Naturally, we make a separate memorial for each one of them and I take the opportunity to refer to all the names of the dead people I would like to remember.
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mario modiano

In the early days of January, after the end of the uprising, there was a call for interpreters in the Greek Army. By that time Father had made contact with Reuters and had a steady job. He and Mother moved to the Grand Bretagne Hotel, which was the headquarters of the British military, since living anywhere else in Athens was dangerous.

I falsified my birth date on my German identity card and pretended I was old enough for the army as an interpreter. But I was still only seventeen. I was accepted and given the rank of second lieutenant. I served first in Kalamata and then in Tripoli in the Peloponnesus.

At that time there were still clusters of communist guerrillas on the mountains. I worked as an interpreter with the British military mission, which was instructing the newly recruited Greek army in all military drills. I was translating some of the manuals of the British army for the use by the Greek army, and I was demobilized about two years later, in 1947.
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Athens was liberated on 12th October 1944. We left the home of our saviors and moved to the Veto hotel which was near Omonoia Square [the most central point of reference in Athens]. We were still there when the communist uprising [see Greek Civil War] [10] broke out in December. The hotel was in no man's land. Everyday we would see dead bodies outside the hotel. At one end of the street, the British troops were firing from the rooftop of a hotel and at the other there were communists who were holed up in a brothel and were firing back. In these circumstances it became rather difficult to get food as well as charcoal for heating and cooking. At that time we were absolutely penniless.
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Mirou-Mairy Angel

My brother Albertos was very courageous. He was working here and there after the war. Then his friend Alchech gave him medicines to sell at pharmacies on commission. He was very capable and hardworking. But after a while my brother Albertos was called to the army. He would be sent to Athens were there was still the ‘Kinima.’ Two of his friends had already died there. He had survived the Germans and didn’t want to die because of the rebellion. So he left and went to Israel. Things were very hard for him there.
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Mrs. Katina proposed that I should stay and have fun with them. We would go to theaters, thus I stayed. But the ‘Kinima’ [24] started. Greeks started fighting among themselves. Mrs. Sergios and Mrs. Katina were so much afraid that they went hiding with the English. I stayed with their children and their two servants. The Mania children and I were having a good time. We were staying in, eating, drinking and having fun.

But at some point we had to learn what was going on outside the house. We went out and we were caught because Mairy Mania, Sergio’s and Katina’s daughter was holding a newspaper of the other party than the one that caught us. We didn’t know where they were taking us. I think it was some mountain.

I approached the people that had caught us and told them that I was Jew and that these people had saved my life. Somebody heard me and said that he would help us escape. And as we were making a turn somewhere, Mairy, Mania’s servant Nitsa, the man that said he could help us and I started running to the opposite direction than the one they were taking us and we were saved.

When the ‘Kinima’ ended Katina and Sergios came back. Mairy Mania gave me some money and told me to go to the house I was hiding and give the money to Mrs. Vasiliki as a gesture of appreciation. Mrs. Vasiliki’s family was poor and illiterate.
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deniz nahmias

So when the war was over we were in Athens hiding in a place in Sina, Arahovis and Akadimias Streets, this was the last house we were hiding in. We wanted to get back home but almost immediately after the [Great] War the [Greek] Civil War started. We were living in the center were the English were, opposite the Anglican Church. I remember the English were hiding in their church and from there they bombarded the Elasites, the guerillas of the left. Every day it was possible to walk freely only for two hours and then you had to hide at your home because the streets were turning into battlegrounds.

Whenever the battles ended people used to get out of their houses in order to find something to eat. And it was so difficult to find something to eat! Everything was so expensive, we couldn't afford it! We bought the necessary things at the black market near Kolonaki by exchanging goods for olive oil. Olive oil was so expensive you needed several pounds to buy just one liter. Well we bought anything that was available on the market. At that time you really had no choice. Some people even lacked fuel to cook. I remember we used to take our food to the French Academia and we cooked it there. Things were really difficult.

I remember once a truck full of dead people was passing by. And the only thing we could do was to pull the curtains... This entire situation lasted two or three months. The English were at the center of Athens and the guerillas were all around.

My father said nothing about the situation and his only comment was, 'We have to be brave.' He was a very optimistic person. He used to say, 'The war is going to be over soon. In one month we will be free.' And we replied, 'Dad you keep telling us the same thing over and over again.'

Well the most tragic of all was the fact that from one war we went right into another. The Elasites were armed and they got this opportunity. They wanted to take over Greece. But there was an agreement that they should have kept. I remember the day of the liberation. I mean when the Germans left. We rushed out into the streets and we were enjoying the taste of freedom but soon after that the Elasites were walking in the streets singing: 'EAM [14], ELAS' and those that liked the monarchy were singing: 'The King is coming.' Gradually the guerillas became more and more aggressive. In the end only the guerillas were walking freely on the streets and the Civil War started. We could feel this tension: the guerillas of the left on one side and the warriors of the right on the other.

When we were hiding during the Civil War the guerillas were looting store- houses. But I must tell you we felt like paralyzed during the Civil War because we didn't know what was going to happen. In Thessaloniki communists were in charge of the city. In Athens things were different; we managed to get rid of them. When the Civil War ended the communists left Athens but in Thessaloniki things were different. There was still this feeling of uncertainty. All that time, even after I got married and returned to Thessaloniki in 1950-51, we still felt this danger that the Russians would come and take over Greece, and it would eventually become a communist country. This rumor was in the air for many years. Even when I got married in 1949. We were afraid that the Russians would take over Greece. We had the feeling that this could happen anytime. This was the climate of the Cold War. And the guerillas of EAM had taken over Thessaloniki. My mother's sisters were so much affected by this political uncertainty that they decided to leave Thessaloniki and immigrate to Mexico. They were already married to two brothers and they all went to Mexico.
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When he was in Athens, during the period of the Civil War [8], a British soldier, who was drunk, hit him in the stomach.
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Nico Saltiel

I even went there during the civil war, the so-called ‘Dekemvriana’ [17]. There were demonstrations. I had been in one, from Omonia to Klafthmonos Square [a square in downtown Athens]. But this demonstration was progressing very slowly, they were shouting, singing, holding flags. I don’t know why, but I left the demonstration at one point and went back. Maybe I was bored or they waited for me at home or something like that, and I had to go. 

Afterwards I heard that as this demonstration continued until Syntagma Square [the main square of Athens in front of the Parliament building], policemen were waiting there and they started to shoot them. There were killings. It was the first demonstration, at the beginning of December. And in this demonstration I gather I held a red flag. We personally had been saved by people from the EAM. 

During the Dekemvriana, I remember I followed things closely, though I didn’t take part. I had no connection whatsoever. We had gone through so much, that we didn’t need this. We no longer had connections with EAM. Those that had saved us had disappeared. We don’t know what became of them. We didn’t even know their names. They acted completely anonymously.

Kallidromiou Street is high up, and we lived at the highest point, on Strefi Hill. And one day, as my brother sat in the bathroom, a bullet passed next to his head. A stray bullet. Because they were shooting from morning until night, even during the night occasionally.
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Moris Florentin

After World War II, there was the civil war [13], basically all the resistance communists from the mountains had hid their guns, which was exactly what their opponents, the government party feared. After the civil war came the great exodus of the communists and they went to places like Yugoslavia, Georgia, Taskendi, which is in Georgia, Kazakhstan etc. A lot of them stayed for good but some of them returned later on.

As for me, politically I had no involvement but my beliefs were left then and are left now. We felt the civil war in our daily lives because there was turmoil in Athens, nothing was functioning properly, to the extent that there were battles in Sidagma [very central area in Athens]. Emigrating never crossed my mind but I know a lot of people who did and went to Israel but also Canada, Italy, the USA.
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Roza Benveniste

During the civil war [17] we had no participation, we were already in a bad position to get involved. Both my brother and my brother-in-law had gone to Israel.
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