This year marks the 500th year since the expulsion from Spain in 1492 of the Sephardic
Jews, who then sought sanctuary elsewhere in Europe and in Africa.
One of the main countries that welcomed them was Greece, where thousands of Jews came to
settle, especially in Thessaloniki, the Hellenic world's second most important city of the
The presence of the Jews in Greece, however, according to historical evidence, can be
traced far further into the past, as far back as the 3rd century B.C. Over their 2,300
years in Greece, the Jews participated fully and freely along with the other Greeks in all
walks of life.
In modern Greece, moreover, the Greek Jews always coexisted in complete harmony with their
Orthodox countrymen, contributing good works in numerous fields.
One example of the brotherly love and assistance extended by Christian Greeks to the
Jewish Greeks was the unique, magnificent letter written by Damaskinos, then Archbishop of
Athens, in defence of the Jews who were being persecuted by the Nazis. This letter, which
expressed the feelings of the people at large - incited the rage of the Nazi general Strop
who threatened the Archbishop with the firing squad.
It is a fact no similar document of protest to the Nazis during the Second World War has
come to light in any other
It is reproduced in this volume - published in commemoration and tribute to our Jewish
brothers - along with the other major monuments to Jewish life that stand today as a
testimony to the age-old history of the Jews in Greece. These monuments are open to the
public and all visitors to this country are welcome to view them.
Konstantinos Pylarinos Secretary General of the Greek National Tourist