The city does not forget the Yanniot Jews who perished in the Holocaust

The event for the Day of Remembrance of the Greek Jewish martyrs and heroes of the Holocaust, a day that has been declared by a decision of the Hellenic Parliament, January 27 of the year, was held jointly by the Region of Epirus, the municipality of Ioannito, the Israeli Community of the city and the Joseph and Esther Gani Foundation, in an event held on 5.2.2024.

But it was the event that, apart from the millions of absentees who perished in the hells of the concentration camps, including almost 1.800 souls of Yianniot Jews, the late mayor and for many years president of the Israeli Community of Ioannina, M. Elisaf, shined through his absence. A few days before the one-year anniversary of his death, Monday's event came as a powerful reminder of his own legacy, as in his own day Remembrance Day was an occasion to bring to the fore and make known all those aspects of Nazi atrocities.

January 27 was chosen by the Hellenic Parliament as it was on that date in 1945 that Soviet troops liberated Auschwitz-Birkenau in Poland, the largest concentration and extermination camp of the Nazi regime.

After all, the 1850 Yanniot Jews, who were displaced on March 25, 1944, and of whom very few survived, had also been led to this.

The deputy regional governor Agni Nakou gave the greeting on behalf of the Region of Epirus to be followed by the mayor of Ioannina T. Begas who stood on the double message of the annual event which is both the preservation of the living memory of the victims of the Holocaust and against racism. "The Holocaust was not only a case of hatred and bigotry, but it was also a period of heroism for many Greeks who defied their lives to save the lives of their Jewish compatriots," he said, among other things.

The president of the Israeli Community of Ioannina, Markos Batinos, also addressed the event with a reference to the Memorial Day as well as to the late M. Elisaf and a representative of the Jewish community of Arta. At the beginning of the event, a message from the Deputy Minister of Social Cohesion and Family Maria Kefala was read.

"From disaster to recovery"

The keynote address was given by Janet Batinou, Director of the Jewish Museum of Greece on the topic: "Jewish community of Ioannina, from destruction to restoration". Then the documentary "The Song of Life" directed by Fotis Lykouresi was shown. The documentary records, with shocking testimonies, the history of the Jewish Community of Zakynthos. In Greece, the Jewish Community numbered thousands of members, who suffered the Nazi atrocities.

In Zakynthos, however, the Jews survived the Occupation, thanks to the bravery and courage shown by the then Metropolitan of Zakynthos Chrysostomos I and the mayor of the island, Loukas Carrer, as well as the ordinary islanders.

When the German administration of the island asked the two to hand over a list of all the local Jews, all they did was give two names. Theirs.
In the whole of Europe, the Jewish Community of Zakynthos is the only one in which its population was saved from the Nazi brutality. The number of persons of the Jewish Community was 275.
The director Tonis Lykouresis has recorded through the excellent documentary "The Song of Life", this unique story, with protagonists in fact, surviving Jews of Zakynthos, who visited the island decades after their redemption.

SOURCE: Epirus online, 7.2.2024