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600 Days in Hiding: A Jewish Family in Nazi-Occupied Thessaloniki, Greece Reviewed By Norm Goldman of Bookpleasures.com
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Norm Goldman


Reviewer & Author Interviewer, Norm Goldman. Norm is the Publisher & Editor of Bookpleasures.com.

He has been reviewing books for the past fifteen years when he retired from the legal profession.

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By Norm Goldman
Published on May 7, 2018
 

Authors: Andreas Algava with Daniel Levine

Publisher: For Passion Publishing Company, LLC

ISBN: 9781983462542



Authors: Andreas Algava with Daniel Levine

Publisher: For Passion Publishing Company, LLC

ISBN: 9781983462542

Thessaloniki also familiarly known as Salonika is the second-largest city in Greece with over 1 million inhabitants. It is located on the Thermaic Gulf at the northwest corner of the Aegean Sea. It is Greece's second major economic, industrial, commercial and political center and a major transportation hub for Greece and southeastern Europe, notably through its port.

Approximately fifty-six thousand Jews lived in Salonika before World War ll, which made up about seventy percent of the total number of Jews living in all of Greece. These Sephardic Jews arrived in Salonika soon after their expulsions from Spain in 1492 and it was nicknamed “la madre de Israel” (mother of Israel), as Jews were free to practice their religion without interference. Jews, Christians, and Muslims lived in harmony for centuries in Salonika.

Sadly, after the occupation by the Nazis in 1941there were only three Jewish families that are known to have survived deportation to the death camps. There were also a few individuals who had survived who were married to Orthodox Christians or who were fortunate to be hidden by their friends. About one thousand Jews returned from the concentration camps and today the Jewish population is estimated at nine hundred.

Andreas Algava, co-author of 600 Days In hiding: A Jewish Family in Nazi-Occupied Thessaloniki, Greece, and after conducting several interviews with his parents as well as conducting his own research, decided to open his past and that of his parents and grandparents all of whom hid from the Nazis for six hundred days in Salonika.

As previously mentioned, only three families who remained in Salonika during the war miraculously avoided sure death at the hands of the Nazis. One was the Algava Clan consisting of Andreas, his parents Henri and Allegra and his grandparents, Avram and Myriam as well as a sister who was born near the end of the war. At the time of the German invasion, Andreas was sixteen months old.

This extraordinary memoir begins with a brief history of the immigration of Sephardic Jews to Greece, continues with the Italian invasion of Greece in 1940 and subsequently to the German takeover in 1941. The pages that follow present a captivating narrative, taking the reader on an haunting trip back in time where we follow the the day-to-day struggles of the Algava family whose lives will never be the same as they hid from one place to the next.

Surviving under the noses of the barbaric Nazis required a great deal of ingenuity and even luck on almost a daily basis. As an example, Andreas's mother had to pretend she was Catholic and she even attended church services with him. It also required foresight in not believing the Nazi propaganda about a safe haven for Jews in Poland which was a prime motivation in convincing the Algava family to escape the ghetto where Jews were forced in live. In addition, there had been a great deal of trust in many friends who were able to provide safe havens, although some of these hideaways were not exactly a bowl of cherries such as the first one where six people lived in one room in a dilapidated house with a dirt floor, few chairs, and a simple hearth in the wall that served as a stove.

The memoir is also an attestation to how several ordinary men and women show immense courage, decency and compassion in helping the Algava family escape Nazi terror even though they would expose themselves to certain torture and death if they were caught. These were unique individuals that provided the family with hiding places notwithstanding that within their own communities the attitude of many of their neighbors was characterized by apathy, indifference, greed, and even open complicity in the persecution of Salonika's Jews. For example, Andreas recounts how his father Henri with a mix of astonishment and horror watches a small army of several hundred Greek workers tearing up the grave sites located in a Jewish cemetery that was in existence for over four hundred and fifty years. It was as if Thessaloniki's Jewish history was being destroyed before his eyes forever.

600 Days In hiding is a remarkable and heart wrenching story of survival against all odds. Readers will gasp with wonder at the miracle that this family was able to come out of the war alive and it is a reminder of the unbelievable horrific events that should not be forgotten. It is also testimony to the humanity, generosity and courage of those individuals who refused to stand by while their Jewish friends and neighbors were being persecuted and slaughtered. I applaud Andreas Algava for telling his story

Follow Here To Read Norm's Interview With Andreas Algava