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July 26, 2014 / 28 Tammuz, 5774
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Germany Urged to Resolve Greek Holocaust Ransom Issue

Wednesday, March 5th, 2014

The World Jewish Congress urged Germany to address a request by the Greek Jewish community of Thessaloniki to be paid back for a ransom it had surrendered to the Nazis when they occupied Greece during the Second World War.

In 1942, the Greek Jewish community paid 1.9 billion drachmas (about $61 million in today’s money) to a Nazi commander for the release of about 10,000 Jews who were forced to perform hard labor on roads and railroads. About 50,000 Thessaloniki Jews were killed during the Holocaust.

The Jewish community of Thessaloniki first brought the request to return the money before Greek courts in 2007. This year, the Jewish community is suing Germany over the issue in the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg, although Germany’s Finance Ministry has so far rejected the request.

“Surely the German government, which has settled so many Holocaust-era claims righteously, can find a resolution for this claim, which the Jewish community of Thessaloniki in Greece has pressed for decades and is extensively documented,” World Jewish Congress President Ronald S. Lauder said Tuesday. “As German President Joachim Gauck makes an official visit to Greece this week, now is the time to bring closure to this episode.”

Thessaloniki Jews Suing Germany in European Human Rights Court

Monday, February 24th, 2014

The Jewish community of Thessaloniki is suing Germany for the return of a ransom paid during the Nazi occupation of Greece.

The papers were filed Friday in the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg, France, the community’s president, David Saltiel, told JTA.

The move to the European court comes after a struggle of two decades in Greek courts, including the Supreme Court, which ruled that Germany had immunity under international conventions.

“It is the end of a long process,” Saltiel said. “We have finished with the courts in Greece and now we hope that the Human Rights Court can help restore the ransom money that the Jewish community paid to Germany.”

The ransom was paid to free some 9,000 of Thessaloniki’s Jewish men, aged 18 to 45, from forced labor by the Germans, who took control of the city in 1942. The German civilian administrator of the Thessaloniki , Max Merten, demanded some 2.5 billion drachmas to release them.

“They were sick and dying and starving and working without food, so the community collected the money to pay,” said Saltiel.

In total, 1.9 billion drachmas, or nearly $69 million, was paid before the Germans began transporting Thessaloniki Jews to the death camps. More than 49,000 Jews out of the city’s prewar Jewish population of 55,000 were deported. Fewer than 2,000 survived.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/thessaloniki-jews-suing-germany-in-european-human-rights-court/2014/02/24/

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