Guelfo Zamboni on the measures against Jews in Thessaloniki in 1943

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R. Representation of Italy for Greece, Athens

c.c.

R. Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Rome

Classified

14th March 1943,

Class./Measures against the Jews of Thessaloniki.

The Jews of Thessaloniki have been entirely excluded from any activity and have for over a week now been confined to the ghetto, unable to leave it for any reason whatsoever.

Their entire property has been seized and will be managed through fiduciaries, who will have to deposit the proceeds from sales in a special blocked account. So far it is not precisely known if part of the sums thus obtained will be used for the sustenance of destitute Jews, who are the great majority.

Several sources confirm that their transfer to Poland should start anytime now.

German authorities have requested from the Jewish Community a list of 120 prominent persons to be regarded as hostages. In this list there are also 12 Italian citizens of Jewish race who, together with the others, were summoned on the 7th inst. to the Community`s premises where a German officer gave a short speech and explained that they would answer with their own persons for any accident or act of sabotage that might occur. He added that it would have been his duty to intern them at once in a concentration camp, but that due to the assurances given by the Chief Rabbi he would let them stay free for the time being. The said prominent persons are also required to provide out of their own means for the needs of the poorer Jews.

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I have approached the Befehlshaber and was able to obtain his assurance that the Italian citizens will be removed from said list and we reached an understanding that they will no longer comply with the instructions and the orders they should still receive through the Jewish Community.

Due to the zeal displayed by the offices in charge of carrying out the adopted measures, I find myself compelled all the time to undertake steps to prevent our fellow-citizens from being hampered in their usual commercial activity. Until now, however, there have been only inevitable repercussions of a very limited and modest relevance.

The sudden removal from town life of over 50 thousand people, who for centuries had continuously been engaged in important activities, has been the cause of serious inconveniences. A great many services that were provided almost exclusively by Jews are now missing, and the price of commodities has increased sharply, to the point where the local press has been clamouring for severe steps against the Greek merchants who exploit the present moment.

Due to the closing of the great many Jewish shops, to the diminished traffic in the streets and to the scarcity of public in cinemas and in restaurants-cafés, the town has acquired a look pervaded by a sense of sadness.

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The Greek element, except for the merchants who have seen their dreaded competitors disappear, displays no enthusiasm for all that is being done, quite the opposite, they worry about the immediate and future consequences.

The Jews who had been issued by us with a pass have been prevented by German authorities from reaching our zone. I have enquired to see if some exception might not be granted for the most serious cases, but have received a negative answer, in fact I was told that they would request that those who had already moved into our territory be returned to them.

(Guelfo Zamboni )

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