Dr. Amy Zahl Gottlieb, was a member of the first Jewish Relief Unit sent overseas in February 1944 by the Jewish Committee for Relief Abroad in Britain. Following service in Egypt and Greece, she joined the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee and directed the emigration of thousands of Jews living in displaced persons camps. Listen to her tell of conditions in Athens upon the return of the refugees at the end of the war.
U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum
In the spring of 1941, the Germans defeated the Greek army and occupied Greece until
October of 1944. The country was divided into three zones of occupation: Bulgaria annexed Thrace and Yugoslav Macedonia; Germany occupied Greek Macedonia, including Thessaloniki, Piraeus, and western Crete; and Italy occupied the remainder of the mainland and the islands. Where Jews resided determined not only their subsequent fate, but also their ultimate possibility of escape.
Greek resistance groups, both communist and non-communist, battled the Axis occupiers in an effort, not only to save Greece, but also to save the Jews living there. The small number — 8,000 to 10,000 of Greek Jews that survived the Holocaust
was due in part to the
unwillingness of
Greek people
to cooperate with
German plans for
their deportation.
In addition, the
Italian occupying
authorities refused
to facilitate or permit
deportations from
the Italian zone of
occupation until Italy
surrendered in
September 1943

The indigenous Jewish communities of Greece represent the longest continuous Jewish presence in Europe. These communities, along with those who settled in Greece after their expulsion from Spain, were almost completely destroyed in the Holocaust.

Members of ELAS
Greek Resistance Movement

compliments of Dr. Michael Matsas
One of the first Greek officers to die in World War II, Mordechai Frezis, a Jew from Chalkis
Members of ELAS Greek Resistance Movement
Deportations in Thrace, March 1943
Dr. Amy Zahl Gottlieb
Deportations in Thrace, March 1943
Jewish Museum of Greece

Even though deportations did not start until March of 1943,
Greece lost at least 81 percent of its Jewish population during the Holocaust. Between 60,000 and 70,000 Greek Jews perished, most of them at Auschwitz-Birkenau. Only 5,000 Jews presently live in Greece, mostly in Athens and Thessaloniki.

One of the first Greek officers to
die in WWII, Mordechai Frezis,
a Jew from Chalkis
compliments of Kehila Kedosha
Janina Synagogue and Museum, N.Y.