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The Jews of Ioannina


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 time.
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
European country.
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 Organization


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