A different meeting, which focused on people, was the commemoration event in Ioannina for the 80th anniversary of the deportation of the city's Jews on March 25, 1944 and the extermination in the Nazi camps of more than 1.800 Ioannina Jews. The Israeli Community of Ioannina and Epirus Memories organized last Monday at the General Archives-Historical Archive of Epirus (Sufari Sarai), the group exhibition "80 Years Later", which moved on multiple levels, catching the thread of memory through people's stories who perished, but also of those who survived.

Η photography exhibition presented by Artemis Alkalai with photos of Jews from Ioannina who survived the Holocaust and which were exhibited for the first time in the city, it attracted interest because, among other things, it showed the faces "returning" to their homes, the people who, with their lived lives, formed part of the collective identity of the city city ​​as it was formed during the centuries of coexistence in Ioannina.


For the last decade, Alkalai has been photographing Holocaust survivors, men and women, in Greece or abroad, and combines in her frame a visual "home", signaling the indissoluble relationship between man and his home, a relationship that was dissolved in the Nazi camps concentration in 1943-44.

The art installation was also presented "Memorial Dresses" by Adi Liraz, which in recent years systematically investigates visually the expression of the gender side of the presence and absence of the Jews of Ioannina with a tragic milestone in 1944. At the base of the dresses and two of the sewing machines that were left behind in the houses that were emptied of people that cold morning of March 25, 1944 so that the few women who returned in 1945 and searched for them to even manage to sew their clothes could hardly find them.

They still showed up excerpts from the ongoing documentary by Chrysantho Konstantinidis about the destruction of the Jewish community of Ioannina with the testimonies of Jewish survivors, as well as an audio document with the testimonies of the Gianniots contained in the book by Christoph Schminck-Gustavus "Memories of Occupation II", published by Isnafi, while high school students presented a play about the "uprooting".

"Never again"

The guided tours that concluded the events brought people to landmarks that mark the long multicultural history of Ioannina and the presence of the Jewish community, but also a present that in its own way shouts a "never again". In the Synagogue that opened for the day, a few meters away from the site of the events in the Castle, the hundreds of names on the walls of those who were exterminated are a reminder that people's lives always have their own imprint. And memory nowadays is not only historical documentation, but also the inclusion of life itself, of people, as an expression of History itself.

Source: EFSYN, 28.3.2024