The Greek Jews

When word spread that the Germans were coming down to Greece, a great terror seized the small Jewish community of this city. They all started selling up, others were making gold sovereigns, they were all shouting that they should scatter and hide among the Greeks. The community was all quaking, they had to scatter immediately in order to save themseves. [...] They took them all: the deaf hamam-carer, and the old women and men and those who wanted to work on Saturdays and the others who wouldn't touch fire and their small children with the pimples and the children of Sabethai Kabilis and Siemo and Sabethai Kabilis himself. And they were all lost - four thousand souls, apart from the few you could count on your fingers who did not want to listen to Sabethai Kabilis and broke the ties and left, hid among the Greeks or took to the mountains where EAM supporters had summoned them.
In a few hours the Jewish community had disappeared without trace. With its Synagogue, its shops, its money gathered drachma by drachma. Catching its breath, our small town heard the lamentation and the mourning rising from the Jewish quarters.

(Dim. Chatzis, 'Sabethai Kabilis', in: Frang. Abatzopoulou, I logotechnia os martyria. Ellines pezographoi gia ti genoktonia ton Evraion, Thessaloniki, Paratiritis, 1995, p. 93)

From Thessaloniki to Auschwitz

From February 1943, all Jews were forced to wear the yellow star. And from the beginning of March we were not allowed out of the ghetto, that is, those quarters where we were confined. [...] In the meantime, from 15 March 1943, shipments of Jews had started to leave Thessaloniki for Poland. Naturally we couldn't suspect what lay in store for us. [....] We were stacked in a wagon made for animals, 80 people in each wagon, with a barrel for our bodily needs and scanty food. The journey lasted eight days. Many old and sick people died on the way. We reached Auschwitz-Birkenau. [...] They dressed us in striped uniforms and they tattooed a number on our left arm. My number is '111.383'. They kept us ten days in quarantine. We asked the Kapos, who were Polish or German criminal inmates, when we would meet our own people. They laughed ironically, pointing at the crematoria with the tall chimneys that were emitting smoke all the time, and said: 'That's where your relatives are.' [...] They started assigning us heavy tasks. We carried wagons with dust, we broke stones, we built roads. The food was scanty. In a week you were ready for the oven because often, especially when new shipments arrived, they made selections and wiped out the older convicts who had been exhausted by the heavy work. In one of these shipments, which were arriving continuously, I saw a mother holding a baby in her arms and dragging by the hand an older child who was asking: 'Mammy, where are they taking us?' And she replied: 'First we'll have a bath and then we'll meet daddy, grandpa, grandma and the rest.' [...]
On 18 January 1945 Auschwitz was evacuated, because the Russians were approaching. We were taken to Gleiwitz, two days' walk away. Those who couldn't walk were executed. From there we were loaded onto wagons, in temperatures 25 degrees below zero, and distributed among various camps. I was released by American troops at Gusen II in Austria, which is a branch of the Mauthausen camp. I had reached the point of exhaustion. [...] When the Americans came and were collecting corpses, they also took me for dead. They saw that my pulse was beating and they realized that I was alive. I saw my friends standing over me and shouting at me: 'Sami, wake up! We are free! Don't leave us now!' They were holding a Greek flag they had made from rags they had picked up here and there and were singing our national anthem: 'Hail to thee, o hail, freedom.' I was, as they later told me, 28 kilos. The Americans took good care of me for three months, with serums and sterilized blood. When I recovered and stood on my feet, I was sent to France, where I completed my recovery, and then I returned to my beloved Greece, kissing the earth and crying with joy.

(Sam Propheta, 'Thessaloniki-Auschwitz', mag. To Dentro, issue. 37-38, March-April 1988, in: Frang. Abatzopoulou, To Olokaphtoma stis martyries ton Ellinon Evraion, Thessaloniki, Paratiritis, 1993, p. 142-146)