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Reviewed by:
  • The Holocaust in Greece ed. by Giorgos Antoniou and A. Dirk Moses
  • Henriette-Rika Benveniste
Giorgos Antoniou and A. Dirk Moses, editors, The Holocaust in Greece. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2018. Pp. xv + 378, 14 illustrations, 2 maps. Cloth $77.36.

Recent decades have seen an increasing interest in the Holocaust in Greece. A collective volume on the subject is most welcome. It would have been useful if the two editors, Giorgos Antoniou and Dirk Moses, who provide only a brief introduction, had attempted a historiographical survey. Instead, they claim that the present volume revises "the dominant line … which held that Greek society was not complicit in the rounding up of Jews and the plundering of their assets" (12). However, a dominant line in public history is not always in agreement with the findings of the actual historiography.

The book is divided into four sections: "Perpetrators," "Collaborators and Victims," "The Question of Property," and "The Aftermath: Survival, Restitution, Memory." Old historiographical problems, such as the Jewish resistance and the Jewish councils, are absent; they nevertheless remain crucial in the perspective of an integrated history.

The book opens with a chapter by Iason Chandrinos and Anna Maria Droumpouki, who offer a chronicle of the implementation of anti-Jewish measures in the three occupation zones (Bulgarian, German, and Italian). Chandrinos and Droumpouki insist on the false sense of security of the victims and provide the numbers of the deportees and the death toll of the Jewish population. Two chapters then adopt a state's perspective. Mark Levene's essay is an attempt to situate "Greek behavior in response to Jewish destruction" by placing it within "the bigger picture of nation-state building in this part of the Aegean littoral" (39). Levene draws on studies of wartime Croatia, Hungary, and Romania and emphasizes the extreme violence inflicted by Bulgarians on Christian and Jewish Greeks alike. Insisting that the road to genocide began with the Balkan Wars and that ethnic cleansings were pursued by all nationalisms acting in the area, Levene runs the risk of normalizing the Holocaust in a stream of nationalistic atrocities, as though German occupation played only [End Page 239] a secondary role. On the contrary, on the basis of extensive archival research, Andrew Apostolou offers a solid account of the collaborationist prime ministers' involvement in the deportations. He refuses to consider the Greek government and local authorities as "weak" or as "emergency administration" and shows the role they actually played in the context of major military and political developments (101). When faced with the threat of Bulgarian annexation of northern Greece, both aimed to please Germany, even by enforcing German antisemitism. Meanwhile, anti-communism was a common interest of both collaborators and Germans. Only when they forsaw the end of the war did collaborators issue spurious protests against the persecution of Salonika Jews.

Three chapters discuss Jewish identity. Paris Papamichos Chronakis' essay revisits Katherine Fleming's questionable idea about the emergence of Greek Jewishness from an external ascription in Auschwitz or in the U.S. and Israel (Fleming 2008). Using eyewitness accounts, Papamichos Chronakis investigates how the Jews from Salonika experienced Greekness in the concentration camps, including their linguistic alienation from Yiddish-speaking Jews and their sense of community as members of a group transferred from Auschwitz to Warsaw and other labor camps. He shows that "in Auschwitz or elsewhere 'Greekness' was developed primarily as predicated in social practices and speech acts" (172). Papamichos Chronakis does not take into account that most of the witness testimonies were collected in the 1990s and were conditioned by the places where survivors found themselves living after the war and by an already shaped collective memory. Moreover, for Salonika's Jews, "Greek Jewishness" results from an identity-making process that goes back to the prewar period, and to many other places such as schools, the front of the Greek-Italian war, the mountains where resistance fighters met, etc.

Kateřina Králová asks what being a Holocaust survivor meant in Greece during the first postwar decade. Her essay is based on oral testimonies and on the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee Archive. She points out that the survivors' recollections of the postwar...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1086-3265
Print ISSN
0738-1727
Pages
pp. 239-243
Launched on MUSE
2020-04-28
Open Access
No
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