The Newsletter of the Jewish monuments of Greece            ONLINE ARCHIVE home page culture shop
Jewish Heritage tours to Greece

Kol haKEHILA editor and stuff do not necessarily share the views and opinions of the authors.
To view the Greek texts below, please use encoding "Greek"
mail to: KOL haKEHILA


Table of Contents    
Exhibition on Greek Jews by Zanet Batinou - 7.01.

The Holocaust of the Greek Jews: The persecuted and the rescuers." An international traveling exhibition of the Jewish Museum of Greece (J.M.G.).
In the spring of 2000 the Jewish Museum of Greece received an interesting proposal from Mr. Christos Failadis, head of the Strasbourg Press Office, for the creation of an exhibition of photographs on the subject of the Holocaust. The Ministry of Press and Mass Media expressed its intention to cover the production cost of this exhibition as well as the cost of a number of presentations in capital cities in Europe, the U.S.A. and Israel over a long period of time.
This particularly creative and attractive proposal was immediately accepted, as it was entirely in keeping with the J.M.G.ís concerns and priorities surrounding research into and education on the subject of the Holocaust. It presented a first class opportunity to reach a huge audience and tell them the hitherto unknown stories of real people from a dark and bitter page in the history of the 20th century. The Jewish Museum of Greece produced an extensive exhibition of photographs entitled "The Holocaust of Greek Jews: The Persecuted and the Rescuers".
Through the presentation of this exhibition, the Museum aims to make known the history of the Holocaust in Greece, placing it within the context of the centuries-long history of the Greek Jews. Among the J.M.G.ís main aims are research, documentation and presentation of this historic genocide in Greece, the preservation of the memory of the victims of the Shoah and the payment of tribute to those individuals and organizations who were instrumental in saving some of those persecuted. The Museum has always been steadfast in its belief that teaching people about the Holocaust helps to achieve understanding, tolerance and solidarity among nations. Behind the tragic decimation of the Greek-Jewish communities there lie amazing stories of heroism and self-sacrifice on the part of Greek Christians, stories which the J.M.G. feels it is under an obligation to tell.
The exhibition has taken on board pre-existing material as well as the results of recent research, and is divided into 18 subject areas with introductory texts and labels in English and French. There are 170 photographs from the time of the Holocaust, as well as of letters, documents and objects from the Photographic Archive and Collection of the Jewish Museum of Greece. This material is presented on a large number of display boards of various sizes. The exhibition also includes a slide presentation, metal exhibition stands and three-dimensional objects of art in wire and metal.
The subject areas under the general title include a brief history of the Greek-Jewish communities from antiquity to the present day, and present the events of World War II and the Holocaust by subject and chronology.
With a view to drawing attention to the human aspect of this tragic time, the exhibition includes accounts of personal experiences. It by-passes the story of the persecutor, preferring, instead, to tell the stories of the ordinary people who were persecuted and whose lives were in danger, and those of their fellow human beings who reacted and acted, risking life and limb to save them. It speaks about the Resistance fighters, the named saviors, and the nameless neighbors. The names of the people involved, whether victims or benefactors, are given wherever possible. Because every human being has a name and because there are still many to whom tribute is due, and it has not yet been paid. The obligation remains.
The exhibition unravels the grim tale with historical accuracy and fidelity, through the accounts of those who lived through it, not those who wrote it. It makes no attempt to analyze all the historical facts, only those which have a direct bearing on the documents, photographs and stories told of the people involved. The purpose is not to detail all the events of World War II in Greece with the scientific clarity and lucidity of a history book. On the contrary, it attempts to convey the air of confusion, uncertainty, fear and anxiety which reigned at that time, but it also tries to convey the instances of faith, hope, strength, humanity, self-sacrifice and unbelievable heroism.
The factors which determined the reactions of people in the face of the tragic events of the time, remain one of riddles surrounding the Holocaust. An answer to this question, as complex as the human soul itself, may never be found. This exhibition certainly makes no attempt to put forward answers. It neither interprets nor does it judge. It allows the visitor to interpret and react.
Its simple and timeless message concerns us all. This genocide did not target a nation of martyrs or victims. It happened to ordinary people, people with dreams, people who loved and people who had problems. It happened to people just like us. And if it can happen once, it can happen againÖ
The exhibition was first displayed in the foyer of the Ministersí Committee in the Council of Europe building in Strasbourg, City of Human Rights, from 12th to 26th February 2001. At the same time and space as the exhibition of the Jewish Museum of Greece, Artemis Alkalaiís individual exhibition entitled "Remembrance" was on display, with a series of sculptures, photographs and paintings. Both were inaugurated on Monday, February 12, by the Mayor of Strasbourg, Ms. Catherine Trautmann, the Secretary General of the Council of Europe, Mr. Walter Schwimmer, the General Secretary of Information of the Ministry of the Press, Mr. Yianni Nikolaou and the representative of the Museumís Board of Directors and the Greek-Jewish Community, Mr. Minos Mordochai.
The simultaneous presentation of both exhibitions reinforced their common message by combining the weight of historical context with artistic expression. The joint exhibition aroused the interest of diplomatic circles and the Strasbourg public at large, but also the press, as well as radio and television networks in Greece and France.
The next presentation of this Holocaust Exhibition has already been organized by the Press Office in Copenhagen, Denmark. The exhibition will be set up at the Odd Fellow Palace, from 21 - 30 May 2001.

Zanet Battinou is the curator of the Jewish Museum of Greece in Athens.

Copyright: Kol haKEHILA 2000. All rights reserved. 
Any reproduction, duplication, or distribution in any form is expressly prohibited.

mail to: KOL haKEHILA