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Subjects in FocusThessaloniki from the 18th  to the 20th century

Thessaloniki from the 18th to the 20th century

Thessaloniki in the First World War
Vardaris Square at Thessaloniki
The cityscape of Thessaloniki
Travelling in Thessaloniki with N. G. Pentzikis
The inhabitants of Thessaloniki
Professions and trades
The Jews of Thessaloniki
The refugees in Thessaloniki
Entertainment in Thessaloniki
Thessaloniki in the Balkan Wars
The fire of 1917 in Thessaloniki

Images on this page

Jewish girl in Thessaloniki
Late 19th century picture postcard with Jewish girl in Thessaloniki, 1600-1910, Thessaloniki, G. Megas archive.

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The Jews of Thessaloniki

Jewish girl in Thessaloniki
1600-1910, Thessaloniki, G. Megas archive

Persecuted under the Spanish Inquisition, most of the Jews came to the city in the mid-16th century upon the Sultan's invitation. They breathed new life into the city after the decline that had followed the conquest of 1430.

Until the arrival of the refugees from Asia Minor in 1922, the Jews made up 30 to 50% of the population. Thessaloniki became the "Mother of Israel", a "second Jerusalem", and an important spiritual centre for the world's Jewry.

Exceptionally rich or exceptionally poor, they managed through hard work to dominate the city's commercial life. Their philanthropic events were days of celebration for the whole city. Their social organization, closed, religious and strictly patriarchal, played a decisive role in the preservation and prosperity of the Jewish community.

At the turn of the century, the Ottoman Empire's first labour federation came into being as a result of the community's manoeuvres, led by Abraham Benaroya. The Nazi occupation meant the virtual annihilation of the Jewish community; about 40,000 of its members were either executed, or deported to concentration camps.

Macedonian Heritage
Content courtesy Ekdotike Athenon S.A.