• Memorial to the Jewish Martyrs of Ioannina
On March 25, 1944, troops of the German Wehrmacht deported all the Jews from Ioannina. Most of them were murdered in the gas chambers of Auschwitz-Birkenau upon their arrival there. A monument in Ioannina commemorates the fate of the former Jewish community.
Image: Ioannina, undated, View of the city, Benaki Museum
Ioannina, undated, View of the city, Benaki Museum

Image: Ioannina, 2004, View of the memorial to the deported Jews, Alexios Menexiadis
Ioannina, 2004, View of the memorial to the deported Jews, Alexios Menexiadis
Ioannina with a population of 100,000 is the capital of the Epirus periphery in north-western Greece. Prior to 1944, there was a Jewish community in Ioannina - its history reaching back to antiquity - with its own Jewish quarter. Unlike most of the Jews living in Greece, who had immigrated from Spain at the end of the 15th century, the Jews of Ioannina were Romaniotes. They spoke Greek with elements of Hebrew, Italian and Turkish.
Between May 1941 and September 1943, Ioannina was under Italian occupation. After Italy had changed sides, the German Wehrmacht took control of Italy's occupation zone in September 1943. Soon, the new occupation authorities began registering the Jewish population in the region of Epirus. The deportation of the Jews of Ioannina was not prepared by the Reich Main Security Office like the deportations in the rest of Greece, but by the XXII Mountain Corps of the Wehrmacht. For a long time, the Jews of Ioannina thought themselves to be in safety; many believed the Germans' reassurances that they would only be deporting Sephardic Jews. The Jewish community was therefore much surprised by the order of the commander of the Ordnungspolizei (regular police) on the morning of March 25, 1944, according to which they were to leave their houses within three hours and assemble at collection points. Members of the Ordnungspolizei, the military police and the secret military police, assisted by Greek police, surrounded the Jewish quarter in order to prevent anyone from escaping. In the winter cold they forced men, women and children to board open trucks, which were to bring them to the city of Larissa. From there, they were deported to Auschwitz-Birkenau by train. The journey lasted several days. Most of the deportees were killed immediately upon arrival in the gas chambers of the death camp.
Image: Ioannina, undated, View of the city, Benaki Museum
Ioannina, undated, View of the city, Benaki Museum

Image: Ioannina, 2004, View of the memorial to the deported Jews, Alexios Menexiadis
Ioannina, 2004, View of the memorial to the deported Jews, Alexios Menexiadis
Almost all of Ioannina's Jewish residents, about 1,750 men, women and children were deported to Auschwitz by the German Wehrmacht in March 1944. Despite German threats that Jewish hostages would be shot, some fled to nearby nearby mountains where they joined various partisan groups. Over 100 Jews had already fled to the mountains while Ioannina was still under Italian occupation.
Image: Ioannina, March 25, 1944, A group of Jewish women and children boarding the deportation truck, Bundesarchiv Koblenz
Ioannina, March 25, 1944, A group of Jewish women and children boarding the deportation truck, Bundesarchiv Koblenz

Image: Ioannina, 2004, Inscription on the memorial to the deported Jews of Ioannina, Alexios Menexiadis
Ioannina, 2004, Inscription on the memorial to the deported Jews of Ioannina, Alexios Menexiadis
The monument in honour of the deported Jews of Ioannina, which is located at the wall to the old Jewish quarter, was erected on the initiative of the city and unveiled in 1994. It symbolically depicts a Torah scroll out of metal. Each year on January 27, Holocaust Memorial Day in Greece, a commemorative ceremony is held at the monument. Other than the monument, there is little that would serve as a reminder of the once thriving Romaniote community of Ioannina. One exception is the Old Synagogue, which was erected in the Citadel around 1826. Today, it is one of the largest and most famous synagogues in Greece.
Image: Ioannina, 2004, Translation of the memorial's inscription, Alexios Menexiadis
Ioannina, 2004, Translation of the memorial's inscription, Alexios Menexiadis

Image: Ioannina, 2010, Interior of the Old Synagogue, Daniel Reiser
Ioannina, 2010, Interior of the Old Synagogue, Daniel Reiser
Name
Mnimeio Ewreon Martyron Ioanninon
Phone
+30 (0)265 102 519 5
Fax
+30 (0)265 102 519 5