Abravanel, the Blog

Jewish life and not only in Greece / Εβραϊκή ζωή και όχι μόνο στην Ελλάδα

Archive for Ιανουαρίου 2008


Posted by Abravanel, the Blog στο 27/01/2008

Remember… That is the imperative that one finds in the writings of people who took part in the Holocaust/Shoah as witnesses and involuntary victims. Remember…is what is repeated each year when the ceremonies for the Shoah take place or when the monster of hate rises to threaten jews and non-jews alike.

Still the imperative “remember” assumes different meanings for the different people who utter it. This is fairly obvious in the different ways society deals with the Day of Remembrance. Right-wing politics flock to show that despite their friends, their sayings and their stands they still are not “jew haters”. Left wing politics fail to even show up, since the jews are the new “fascists” to compete against. The Institutions simply see it as a burden to bring forward in the less obvious way possible, lest be accused in succumbing to the jews. The Media simply broadcast the same old archives from foreign documentaries and deal with it the same way they deal with the tsunami, a bad thing but that happened far-far away to “others”. The rest of the Society doesn’t know or care and frankly, seen how Politics, Institutions and Media deal with the Day, they have their fair share of excuses.

On the other hand I grew up in a house where no one ever had to tell me to remember. For me the Holocaust was strange tales about a place far-far away the grownups in my house were involved in. The only tangible aspect of these stories were the blue numbers tattooed on their arms. I used to be so stupefied by these numbers for they transformed a tale into a reality which I could touch, scrutinize and fantasize upon. I was just a kid but it was fairly obvious that something had indeed happened and these numbers told of a story which I could only get glimpses and half truths from its comprehensibly reluctant narrators. Still to them it was not the historical event that later became the Holocaust; to them it was simply τα στρατόπεδα/“the camps” were they had gone but even if they wanted they could never truly shed from them since the mark of the camps was not only in their minds but on their physical shelves. This number, hard as they might have tried should they have wanted, could not be erased and hard as I might have tried should have I wanted could not be forgotten.

At that time I didn’t have the faintest idea how different the war had been upon them. I remember that I used to harass them regularly to have them tell me stories which were adapted to suit a 5 year old and which invariably fascinated him. From these stories I can only remember parts that I, as a small pampered kid, could understand remotely: having to rise with shouts – getting beaten – being hungry. Hell, I remember that hearing “Raus” and “Schnell” seemed extraordinarily funny and I repeated them same way today a kid will parrot a phrase from the telly.

As I grew up my perception of the Holocaust changed and its memory was perpetuated through the Absence than through the Presence. It was no longer necessary to see the numbers on the arms or hear stories to remember; it was enough to seeremembrance08 what was missing. There were no stories that passed from generation to generation, no relatives to visit, any family relics or photos. When I was little this absence didn’t weigh on me since I didn’t actually realize it and the immediate present was just enough. As I grew up, the natural urge we all have to discover our past and make bonds with it also kept growing only to find itself bump against an invisible wall which defined Before and After. One could, through research, get to know more about what had happened 500 years ago to his family than know more about the generation immediately prior to the Holocaust. The Absence was what defined the Holocaust and the generations past it; people focalizing on this specific moment trying to secure little threads of memories which could be extricated from the WW2 maelstrom. In my family a single photo whose members but one were dead by 1943, reconstituted from the pieces it was torn, is the sole remainder of all the generations that passed before; it struggles to rise up to the immense role of filling the Absence but it isn’t the only one that defines the past – the tangible absence of all the others is a monolith to whom this humble photo has to confront with.

Remembering for me is not only a token of respect to those who were murdered, gassed and burned. It is a vital need to fill up the void, a deep drive to give meaning to all those who lived before me and found their entire lives clinging upon a meager photo before fading in the oblivion. And if the Holocaust physically erased thousands of persons it managed to go even past the Holocaust generation and burn itself unto the generations that were to come by eliminating their Past and through the Absence it created make it a part of their life in a painfully contemporary way.

So I must admit I lied when I said I keep the memory vivid in me; I’ve never had to remember because the cataclysm the Holocaust had been, never actually left me.


PS. Yad Vashem has a page for the schools approved by the Greek Ministry of Education and Religion – visit it.

Posted in me myself and I, Shoah | Με ετικέτα: , , | 4 Σχόλια »

Agit Prop

Posted by Abravanel, the Blog στο 13/01/2008


     Agit Prop/агит проп («αγκίτ προπ») derives from the word «agitazia» and «propaganda»; with the first aiming to instigate the heart and the soul of the receiving audience, while propaganda is the political argumentation which addresses his mind.

It’s also the name of a very good –greek language– blog whose authors have a keen interest on the jews of their hometown, Thessaloniki/Salonika. Among their various articles I’ve singled out those of greek jewish interest, (the first three being truly exceptional), although by no means fail to read some of their other stuff, especially if you’re concerned about Human Rights or advocate Open Source software/OS like myself!

I’ve added the site to my Blogroll and warmly salute the authors – ενας πραγματικά εξαιρετικός ιστότοπος. :-)

Posted in greek please, Recommended | Με ετικέτα: , , , | 1 Comment »

Jews and the Twin Towers by tuki8eblom

Posted by Abravanel, the Blog στο 11/01/2008

fiddler on the roofI would be ungrateful if I didn’t admit that through this site I’ve had the chance to be wonderfully surprised by many people who seem to have the sheer recklessness to go against the mainstream views here in Greece. One of these people is touki8eblom, affectionately known as touki.

On this particular occasion the article that grasped my attention was a small but well documented essay on the widely spread myth that jews, (or Mossad, the israeli Secret Service), were responsible for 9/11. The rumor has it that 2-3-4-5.000 jews working in the World Trade Center were «alerted» and failed to show up that day for work; ergo jews knew about it or even organised it. Διαβάστε τη συνέχεια του άρθρου »

Posted in greek please, Recommended, the jews did it! | Με ετικέτα: , , , , | 3 Σχόλια »

The new Thessaloniki Metro and the Jewish Cemetery Station

Posted by Abravanel, the Blog στο 05/01/2008

As you all know a new subway is currently being build in Thessaloniki.

excavationsAt the same time many witnesses have reported that part of the jewish cemetery has been unearthed by the excavations. Argos has posted twice about in, (in greek) in «Oh, a necropolis» , «Continuing on the necropolis» where the photo on your left origins from.

On a greek forum dedicated to the subway readers have reported that workers in the cemetery the reader was seeing was the jewish one.

Argos didn’t hesitate to point out how local media downplayed the find and remained positively vague about the subject. Reading all these worried me but then I noticed a paragraph in the Attiko Metro’s, (the company that is responsible for the construction), webpage:

ATTIKO METRO S.A. in cooperation with the Ministry of Culture shall display the most significant archaeological finds of the Project in especially configured areas in the central stations of the network. Therefore, the benefit from the construction of the Project shall be double for the city of Thessaloniki: speed, safety, comfort and reliability using the best public transportation mode and invaluable knowledge about our cultural heritage.

Could I make a suggestion then? That the Metro, the new subway be a means to increment the knowledge of Thessalonicean’s about their own city? Wouldn’t be a respectful touch to name the subway station of Panepistimio as Jewish Cemetery Station? Or if this is impossible then the station of Panepistimio be dedicated, through photos and tombstones which still lie around, to the cemetery which lies underneath it, (or above it if the metro indeed will dig farther down to avoid further trouble by the cemetery)?

Don’t you think that a permanent and extensive photo exhibition would be the correct way of facing it’s past? Would it be this difficult to accept that the Jewish Community of Thessaloniki is exactly this: of Thessaloniki and make it’s cemetery a part of all Thesalonicean’s past?

This photo comes form the Jewish Museum of Thessaloniki and depicts and old woman searching for a tomb.
I chose it because the name of the photo is «Looking for the tomb» which I felt that was
appropriate and depicting accurately the state that the inhabitants of Thessaloniki, jews and christians alike,
feel towards this issue. Let’s hope they find it…

Posted in greece, thessaloniki | 10 Σχόλια »

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