Jane Wilson-Howarth

Blog

 
 

City of Ghosts

Monday, 27 January 2020
In 1492 Spain expelled its Jews but, recognising their language skills, awareness of the Renaissance as well as knowledge of medicine, printing, cartography and weaponry, the Ottomans encouraged them to settle in Thessaloniki. Jewish enterprise enriched the city and by 1864, 70,000 Jews called Thessaloniki home. They made up half the population of the city. Other citizens were Christians and Muslims and postcards of Thessaloniki from the beginning of the 20th century show a city dotted with minarets.
Around 1922 though there was a huge forced exchange of people – Christians living in Asia Minor moved into Greece and Muslims left for Turkey. There were plenty of atrocities that are remembered by successive generations. Now the Muslim community has largely disappeared and not one functioning mosque remains today.
I guess – despite the oft-repeated spin about the cosmopolitan, open atmosphere of the city – that the Sephardic Jews were not especially well integrated into the community. They lived in one circumscribed area of the city and continued to speak Ladino, indeed one source mentioned the difficulties some people had in hiding their Jewishness during Nazi occupation because they couldn’t speak Greek.
Although the Nazis were responsible for implementing Hitler’s Final Solution and although there were undoubtedly many instances of Greeks sheltering and trying to protect Jews, some Greeks weren’t sorry to see them leave. Perhaps they couldn’t imagine that about 49,000 – one third of the population of the city – would perish in the death camps. The Nazis worked hard to mislead their victims. Counterfeit money was even printed that they were told they’d be able to spend in their new home in Poland.
A happy serendipitous meeting drew my attention to memorial stones, stolpersteine, placed recently amongst the cobblestones of the Port of Thessaloniki commemorating five men who had worked there. A German artist, Gunter Demnig, has been making these memorial stones for those who were persecuted by the Nazis. There are many in Berlin and some have already been placed at the site of a school in Thessaloniki where lessons were interrupted so that 149 children could be taken to the ghetto and thence to Poland. Only two survived.



Seeing these memorial stones and a trip to the Jewish Museum in Thessaloniki got me thinking about the choices we make and the good and bad that life flings at us. I found myself wondering whether any of my children’s distant cousins – descended from Jews who fled from the Iberian Peninsula but eventually arrived in London – might be represented on the sobering memorial wall that lists all the people taken from Thessaloniki to Auschwitz and Bergen-Belsun.
Just over 1000 of the 49,000 survived that war, so the turmoil of the first half of the 20th century ethnically cleansed the city of both Jews and Muslims. Two novels, Louis de Bernières' towering Birds without Wings and Victoria Hislop's The Thread, are set in those dark days. 
 
Holocaust monument near the port in Thessaloniki

Now Middle Eastern conflicts have sent a new wave of migrants into Greece: refugees seeking a safe place live in amongst a people who haven’t the resources to cope with their own crisis let alone play host to others. It is career suicide for Greek politicians to engage with the crisis never mind that international aid has brought money and employment opportunities into the country. Tremendous prejudice remains, here as well as elsewhere in Europe. Recently members of the small Muslim community in the city applied to create a cemetery but the application was blocked by the Greek orthodox church. Greeks want to keep their city 'pure' it would seem.
I wonder how many of those of us who call Europe our home are descended – at least in part – from national and international migrants? Surely hostility and violence begets hostility and violence. Perhaps it is time for all of us to try to open our hearts to those who have lost everything because of conflict. We need to build bridges of compassion. 
 
Kurdish refugee's drawing of a helicopter
and smiling troops loyal to Asad shooting a weeping victim
Posted: 27/01/2020 16:01:43 by Global Administrator | with 0 comments
Filed under: Asad, ethnic cleansing, Greece, holocaust, Jews, Kurds, refugees, stolpersteine, Thessaloniki, xenophobia



    Pontifications
    Travel
    Wildlife
    Writing
    October 2021(2)
    August 2021(1)
    June 2021(1)
    May 2021(5)
    April 2021(3)
    March 2021(4)
    October 2020(1)
    August 2020(2)
    July 2020(1)
    June 2020(1)
    May 2020(1)
    April 2020(4)
    March 2020(4)
    January 2020(1)
    October 2019(2)
    June 2019(2)
    April 2019(2)
    March 2019(9)
    January 2019(2)
    October 2018(3)
    August 2018(3)
    June 2018(4)
    May 2018(5)
    April 2018(3)
    March 2018(1)
    January 2018(4)
    October 2017(4)
    August 2017(3)
    July 2017(2)
    June 2017(2)
    May 2017(1)
    April 2017(1)
    March 2017(4)
    January 2017(1)
    October 2016(7)
    August 2016(2)
    July 2016(1)
    June 2016(1)
    January 2016(3)
    October 2015(1)
    August 2015(1)
    July 2015(1)
    May 2015(2)
    April 2015(2)
    March 2015(2)
    January 2015(3)
    October 2014(4)
    July 2014(1)
    June 2014(4)
    May 2014(1)
    April 2014(1)
    January 2014(4)
    October 2013(1)
#righttobreathe / 100 word story / 100-word story / 50 Camels / 50 Camels and She's Yours / A Glimpse of Eternal Snows / A Wide Woman on a Narrow Boat / Aberdeen / Abuja / accidents / Active Fairness System / Adam Reta / Admissions / adventure stories / advertising / affairs / age concern / aging / air pollution / air quality / Akwanga / alcoholism / Alicia Ostriker / Ama Dablam / Amadablam / Americanisms / Amharic / animal reservoirs / ANM / Annapurna / antelope / anthology / Arrivals / Asad / assisted suicide / audacity / audible / audio musical project / audiobook / author / Author from Hull / author interview / author reading / author-to-author / Auxiliary Nurse Midwife / ayurvedic toothpaste / Bagarchhap / Baglung / Bagmati / Bajaj / Bajaj Pulsar / Bajura / banknotes / BBC Radio Cambridgeshire / bear precautions / Benjamin Langley / Bertrand Russell / Bethlehem Attfield / Bhotang / bicycle / bike trip / birdlife / birds / black bear / black kites / black pine forest / Blitz / blood oxygen / Bloodshot Books / Blue sheep / book launch / book review / border guards / Boreal Wildlife Centre / bottled gas / Bradt / Bradt Travel Guides / Brahmin / brain surgery / breakfast / bridge / brown bear / buckwheat / buckwheat bird / buffalo cart / Building Back Better / BuildingBackBetter / bulbul / camaraderie / Cambridge / Cambridge writers / Cambridgeshire / camping hazards / canals / carcinogens / caste / catastrophe / cave diving / celtic / chaite-dhan / Chandragiri / Chele / childbirth / children's books / Chirang / Chisapaani / Chisapani / Chobhar / Chobhar Hill / Chomolungma / Chough / city cycling / civet / climate change / clinics / cobbler / cold / cold desert / colourful hat / comfort / coming of age / coronavirus / Covid / covid vaccine / COVID vaccines / Covid-19 / cows / creating characters / cycling / cyclist / daisy chain / dal bhat / dangerous wildlife / dawn / dawn chorus / Dead Branches / death / demonstration / Department of Roads / desert / development / development work / Devon / Dhading / Dhading besi / Dhading District / Dhangadhi airport / Dhaulagiri / Dhee / dhulomandu / doctor memoir / Dolpa / Dolpo / domestic violence / Dr. Katrina Butterworth / dragon / dragons / Drakmar / drinking water / droppings / Dunai / dust / early marriage / earthquake / earthquake alarm / earthquake damage / earthquake today / earthquakes / East Anglia / eco-resort / eco-tourism / Edinburgh / efficacy / elbow sneezing / electrics / embankments / emergency / England / English journey / English language / environmental crisis / Eräkeskus / eternal snows / Ethiopia / ethnic cleansing / euthanasia / evacuation / Everest / evocative smells / Ewell / expat / exploitation / Fagu Purnima / Falgun / FCDO / feelgood read / Fens / festival / festival of colour / festivals in March / fiction / Finland / fire-tailed sunbird / fishing / fishtail / Fish-tailed mountain / flash fiction / flash literature / flash prose / flood / flood protection / floods / folk story / football / footbridge / footpath / forest / forest fires / friends / frostbite / Gai Tihar / gaming / Ganesh himal / Gangetic Plain / garden / garment / Ghami / Ghemi / ghoral / giant crab spider / giving birth / global warming / goodread / goral / gorge / Gorkha / gossip / GP writer / grandad / Greece / grey-headed canary-flycatcher / haiku / handwashing / hand-washing station / hangry / happiness / happyness / hare / Hatibhan / hawkmoth / health assistant / Heffers / Heffers bookshop / Hell's Grannies / Henningham Family Press / Henry Marsh / hill walking / himal / Himalaya / Himalayan Black Bear / Himalayan foothills / Himalayan Goral / Himalayan griffon vulture / Himalayan Hostages / Himalayan Kidnap / Himalayan serow / Himalayan Sunrise / Himalayan woolly hare / Himalayas / himals / Hindu festival / Hindu kingdom / Holi / Holi Purnima / holocaust / home care / home delivery / honey buzzard / hoopoe / horror / hot springs / Hotel Deep of Worldtop / Hotel Peace Palace / house crows / how long to write a book? / human kind / human spirit / idyllic childhood / immigration / Indonesia / Indra Jatra / infidelity / inspiration / inspiring fiction for children / Ireland / irrigation / Is She Dead in Your Dreams? / jackal / Janajibika Hotel / Jane Wilson-Howarth / Jews / Joe Wilson / Jomosom / Jomsom / joy / jungle / Jungle book / Juphal / Kaag Beni / Kag Beni / Kali Gandaki / Kali Gandaki gorge / Kalopani / Kalunki / Karnali River / Kashigaon / Kashigoan / Kathmandu / Kathmandu Valley / Katrina Butterworth / kestrel / khana / Khartoum / Khumbu / Khumbu microbus / kickstart / kidnap / kindness / Kipling / Kipling's jungle / kites / Kolkata / Krishna / Kumari / Kurds / Kurentar / Kusma / labour / ladoos / lama / Lamjung himal / lammergeier / lammergeyer / landscape / landslide / landslides / Langtang himal / language / language gaffs / langur / Large Indian civet / largest tribuary of the Ganges / Laxmi Puja / leave no one behind / leave no-one behind / LeaveNooneBehind / Leaving no-one Behind / letter-writing / lichen / life lessons / Livelihoods / living goddess / lockdown / lockdown project / LoMantang / Lombok / London pigeon / loneliness / Lord Ganesh / Lord Krishna / loss and recovery / love / Lukhu river / Lukla / Machhapuchare / Machhapuchhare / Makwanpur / Manang / Manbu / mani wall / married life / Marsyangdi / Martinselkosen / Mary Kingsley / masala tea / maskmandu / masks / maternal mortality / Maya and the Dragon / medical emergency / medical evacuation / medical memoir / medical Students / Melamchi / memoir / memoirist / memory / Michael Rosenberg / microbuses of the Khumbu / microfiction / middle grade readers / Middle Hills / mineral water bottles / Monsoon / morning mist / mortality / Moth Snowstorm / motorbike / motorbike trip / motorbikes / motorcycle / MottMacDonald / mountain / mountain medicine / mountains / mouse hare / mouse-hare / Muktinath / Mukwanpur / mulberries / Mustang / nag puja / nak cheese / narrator / narrow boat / National Reconstruction Authority / nature / Naubisi / neighbours / Nepal / Nepal Communitere / Nepal road trip / Nepal roadtrip / Nepal Valley / Nepal wildlife / Nepali / Nepali food / Nepali tea / Nepali Times / Nepali topi / Nepali wildlife / Nigeria / Nigiri himal / nilgai / Nilgiri / Nilgiri South / non-fiction / Nonsuch Palace / Nonsuch Park / Northumberland / novel / nuthatch / Nuwakot / obstetrics / onions / on-line newspaper / orb spider / ox-cart / Oxford / Oxford vaccine / oximeter / oxymeter / pandemic / Pangboche / pangolin / parenting / Passer montanus / passing places / passive pleasure / Patan / Patan Durbar / Patan Durbar Square / payer / PCR test / People in Need charity / percussion / Pfizer vaccine / PHASE / PHASE Nepal / PHASENepal / Phewa Tal / Philippines / Phoksundo / phonetics / photoktm2016 / pigeons / pika / pike / pilgrims / plastic waste / pleasure / PM 2.5 / poem / poetry / Pokhara / Police My Friend / pollution / polytunnel / pony trekking / post earthquake recovery / post-earthquake reconstruction / Potatoes / powder / pregnancy / Pridhamsleigh Cavern / prose / publishing / puja / Pul Chowk / Pulsar / Pungmo / Purnima / Purnima programme / Pyncnonotus cafer / Qatar / rabies / Rajapur / Rajapur bazaar / Rajapur Island / Rajapur market / Rajapur town / rat snake / reading / reading aloud / Real Fairness for Real men / reconstructed dialogue / recording / recovery / recycling / Red Dawn Rising / red-vented bulbul / refugee camp / refugees / relief work / Remover of obstacles / Requiem for Potatoes / retirement / rhododendron / rice / ricefields / Richard Mabey / Ringmo / risk takers / river crossing / river island / river-crossing / road trip / roadtrip / Rock Doves / rock shelters / Roe Deer / Royal Enfield Riders Club / Royle's pika / rubbish / Rufus-breasted Niltava / rupees / Russian border / rustling / rustlings / safety / Sagamartha / Sagamartha National Park / Sally Haiselden / samosa / Sappros / Sarengkot / sarus cranes / School rebuilding / scorpion / screening / Second World War / Seeta Siriwardena / self-harm / senses / serow / Setopati / Shadow Spark Publishing / Shangri La / Shangri-la / Shanti bazaar / Shey-Phoksundo National Park / Shivapuri / Shivapuri Nagajung National Park / Shivapuri National Park / Shivapuri Village / Shivapuri Village Resort / short fiction / short story / shrikes / silk / Simon Howarth / Sindhupalchowk / Sinhala / Sinhalese / Six degrees of Separation / skipper butterflies / skippers / snow leopard / Snowfed Waters / social isolation / solid waste / solid waste disposal / Soti / South Sudan / spaghetti electrics / sparrows / Speaking Tiger / species leap / spider venom / Spiny babblers / spotted owlet / squirrel / Sri Lanka / Sri Lankan author / Stephanie Green / stink bug / stolpersteine / street art / street dogs / Subsistence agriculture / Sudan / Suli Gad Khola / Suli Gad river / Summit Air / sunbird / sunrise / surgeon / Surrey / suspended bridge / Sussex / Suttee / Tahr / tales / tar tattoo / tato pani / Tatopani / TBS Kathmandu / tea / tea shop / teacher / teashop / Teku / Teku Hospital / Teku infectious diseases hospital / Temporary Learning Centre / Tengboche / terai / Thamel / Thankot / Tharu / Tharu people / The Book Warren / The British School Kathmandu / The Lonely Cat / The Lost Spell / Thessaloniki / Thumki Danda / time / To be blessed / totobobo / traffic / traffic jam / traffic rules / traffic uncles / transHimalaya / transHimalayan / translation / travel / travel anthology / travel narrative / travel writing / traveling with children / travelling with children / tree sparrows / trekking / Tribhuvan International Airport / trust / Tsirang / Twin Otter / Uganda / UK / UK aid / UK aid in Nepal / UKAid / unbound / unplanned pregnancy / Upper Mustang / urban cycling / urban life / urban pollution / urban water supply / vaccinating / vaccination / vaccine / Valley / vampires / vegetarian / velvet-fronted nuthatch / Viiksimontie / Village dogs / village life / village sounds / visa / volunteering / vulture / Wai / Wanderlust / water supplies / water tankers / West Sussex / western Nepal / white lies / WHO / widower / wild goat / wild places / wildlife / wildlife stories / William Matthews / winter madness / winter Wheat / Witchford / women of a certain age / Women Travellers / wood fires / words / wordsmith / World Book Day / World Book Day 2020 / World Cup 1990 / World Environment Day / world herritage / world's deepest gorge / writer / writers group / writer's life / writing / writing about writing / writing characters / writing exercise / writing for children / writing group / writing habits / writing prompts / xenophobia / yak cheese / year fives / yeti / young mother / young motherhood / Your Child Abroad / zoonoses