This is a picture of my cousin Tori Modiano (first from left), my brother Danny Alvo (second from left), my cousin Rosa Saltiel (second from right), and myself.
My mother’s sister Lily, was married to an Italian Jew. His name was Dario Modiano and he was an Italian citizen. They had two children. Tori, whose full name was Salvador, and a daughter, Rosa, who now lives in America.
My mother’s brother Sento married a first cousin of his, Mathilde Gattegno. They had two children. Rosa, who is exactly the same age as me, and Flora who is five or six years younger.
We would go in the garden with our cousins. When we were around ten years old, our life was in the garden. There was a basement in the garden, quite big, where the gardener used to store his tools and the pots that he didn’t want to leave out for the whole of the winter.
We had taken this place and we had turned it into our own spot, like our room, and we had put boxes and newspaper and pillows on top of them.
And mother was shouting at us, because we had taken the pillows and we had transformed the basement to a small house. My cousin Renee used to come down, from the first floor and we would take the gardener’s trolley and play around. We played girls and boys together.
The Saltiel family were Spanish citizens. During the war after the deportations ended in Thessaloniki, they gathered all the Spanish citizens in the synagogue. And they told them, you have two hours to take your personal belongings and come here.
The train is ready. Come back here. We will send you to Spain. Sento with his father Daniel and his wife Mathilde, all left together. They took them to Bergen-Belsen first.
From there they passed on the train through the whole of France that was occupied, and they got to Spain, were they stayed for around 20 days in Barcelona, and from there they took them to Morocco and to Casablanca, were the allies French-English had already entered.
Later, through Morocco they went to Gaza and to Tel Aviv, where they had relatives.
Sento's wife, Mathilde remained hidden and didn't turn up when they gathered all the Spanish citizens. She managed to get to Athens and hide there. But she suffered. The Spanish that left from Athens weren't taken to Spain.
They took them to Bergen-Belsen. So she thought that she was doing better than her husband and hid on her own, but she suffered much more. She did survive though, she and her two daughters, Rosa and Flora.
After the war, Rosa got married to Marcel Nadjari and they left for America.
When her husband died, she remarried a Jew from Thessaloniki who was living in Paris. His name was Charles Joseph. After he died, Rosa came back to Greece. Nowadays she is living in Athens.
Aunt Lily survived too. When the deportations started, the Italians with an army train took all the Italian citizens who were in Thessaloniki and moved them to the Italian zone.
They didn't let the Germans take them. So, they came down to Athens and hid. When Italy fell and surrendered, Aunt Lily was hiding in Athens with her two children.
Her husband went to the mountains, with the partisans. They helped him go and hide there with his two brothers and his eldest son Tori.