In a climate of emotion, the residents and local bodies of eastern Macedonia revolted tribute to Jews of Kavala and Dramawho met a tragic death in her concentration camps Treblinka and Auschwitz. Everyone’s memories went back eighty years, when the Bulgarian occupation troops in the two cities forcibly rounded up the Jewish populations at the request of their Nazi allies and after first subjecting them to torture, forcing them to live in a tobacco warehouse of the time in deplorable conditions, then they were taken, on a long railway journey, to their extermination camps.

In the Jewish cemetery of Kavala, the pain for the 80 years of the annihilation of 386 families in Treblinka, he met the pain of the 57 families in Tempi, all present exclaiming “NEVER AGAIN». In the municipal conservatory of the rural city of Drama, the descendants of one of the most important Jewish families traveled from California, USA to Greece in search of family roots again. In both cities, the marble monuments that have been erected to the memory of the total 2076 Jewish citizens (1484 from Kavala and 592 from Drama – about 4500 throughout the region of eastern Macedonia and Thrace), gathered a large number of people, who laid wreaths, in the hope that humanity will not experience another Holocaust.

In the city of Kavala, the six-day commemoration and honor events, organized by the municipality with the AMTH Region, the Central Israeli Council and Europe Direct of Eastern Macedonia-Thrace, ended at noon on Sunday, with a symbolic march in the center of the city, in the presence of of Israel’s ambassador to Greece Noam Katz, representatives of organizations and descendants of Kavala Jews living abroad.

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E. Kopovka: “Memory is the way of shaping the future”

In the emblematic building of the Megali Leshi, two photo exhibitions were hosted throughout the week, with the theme: “Places of memory, places of martyrdom” by PhD candidate in Architecture Nikos Kosmides and “History, Memory, Holocaust” by Charalambos Aitsidis.

The opening of the two exhibitions was attended, among others, by the director and scientific advisor of the Treblinka Museum, Dr. Eduard Kopowka and Mr. Malizewski respectively, who conveyed to the audience what happened in occupied Poland 80 years ago, the history of the construction of the Treblinka camp, which “was not a concentration camp, but a camp for the immediate extermination of all who were taken to it” .

They described the death route of hundreds of thousands of Jews from his country and the rest of Europe, making special reference to the last journey of Jews from the region of North Macedonia and Thrace. They emphasized that the memory of the victims calls us to acts of resistance to the modern crisis, “because memory is not only the commemoration and preservation of information, but the way of shaping the future for Peace, respect for the otherness and the value of of human life”.

Memory march in the center of Kavala

In the context of the above events, the charter of the creation of a Network of Cities against Anti-Semitism and the Dispersion of Racial Hate was signed in Kavala by the mayors of nine municipalities of the AMTH Region.

The events of memory and honor were completed in Kavala at noon on Sunday, with a modest musical event in the only surviving building of the Jewish community of the old elementary school where today the Greek High School of Kavala is housed. Afterwards, a memory march started from there that ended up in the modern memorial for the extermination of the Jews of Kavala, exactly at the place where the old tobacco warehouses were located, right there where they were gathered.

Honoring the contribution of an important family

The city of Drama welcomed on Saturday afternoon at the municipal conservatory, the descendants of a family of Draman Jews, distinguished scientists from California, USA, who returned with emotion to the birthplace of their parents, exclusively for the commemoration of March 4, 1943, day during which the Bulgarian occupation troops rounded up all the families of the Dramino Jews and drove them to the concentration camps of Treblinka and Auschwitz.

These are the grandchildren of Emilios and Elvira Kakki, whose presence in the cultural, social and economic life of the city in the decades of the 1920s and 1930s was particularly important. The Kakki family brought electricity, short wave radio, the creation of a great theater and together the creation of an important cultural tradition to the city of Drama. Both loved the theater. They loved music, were founders and warm supporters of the city’s conservatory.

THE Emilios and Elvira Kakki they left Drama, due to the Second World War, going first to Thessaloniki, where Emilios breathed his last, and then to become refugees in their own country. Elvira Kakki with her four children, Mr Jack, Carmen, Albert and Fred, had an active participation in the resistance against the invaders through EAM and EPON, while they managed to be saved from the Holocaust. Unfortunately, the remaining 22 members of their family did not make it.

After the end of the war, Elvira Kakki and her children left for the USA. In fact, Fred Kakkis, son of Emilios and Elvira, has also written a book about his family entitled “The Legacy of Courage”describing the adventures and survival of his mother and siblings who refused to submit to the German invaders.

The attendees were welcomed by Dimitra Hatzidimitriou, president of the association “Friends of the Archaeological Museum of Drama, Cultural and Natural Monuments of the city and region of Dramas”, while a greeting was followed by the mayor of Drama, Christodoulos Mamsakos.

E. Kakkis: “The era in Drama was never forgotten”

Speaking on behalf of all the members of the Kakki family, Emilio’s grandson, Emil, did not hide his emotion, saying characteristically: “I am here to honor grandfather Emilio and grandmother Elvira, who lived for many years in Drama, supporting the sciences and the arts in the local community’. He made special mention of the family home in Drama, which, he said, “was always on our minds.” In fact, Emil Kakkis explained that in his uncle Jack’s house, in California, there was a painting of the family’s ancestral home and because of that, the time in Drama was never forgotten.

He also focused on the contribution of his ancestors to Drama, technology, science, music and culture, emphasizing that they, the descendants of Emilios and Elvira Kakki, continue to serve and support the same principles as their ancestors . Emil Kakkis characteristically quoted a phrase his grandmother, Elvira, had told him in 1982: “It is our duty to do good to other people in the world in whatever way we can.” This, Mr. Kakkis added, she and his grandfather Emilios did in the years before the war in Drama.

On Sunday morning, the focus of the events of honor and memory was the park of Agia Varvara. The Most Wise rabbi of Thessaloniki, Aaron Israel, read a memorial service at the memorial of the Dramino Jews, while the performance of a Jewish prayer by the soprano Mariangela Hadjistamatiou followed. Following the event, wreaths were laid by the citizens and the representatives of the local bodies and a little later a speech was given by Georgios Antoniou, assistant professor of the Chair of Jewish Studies of the Faculty of Philosophy, AUTH, on the topic: “The Holocaust in Greece. From history to memory”.

I. Cohen: “The world here has no intolerance”

One of the most touching moments of the modest ceremony was the presence in it of the last Jewish Jew of Drama, Iakovos Cohen, who now lives between Thessaloniki and Drama. Mr. Cohen, speaking to local media, spoke of a moving event, and added: “I am the last Jew of Drama, but for some years now, because I am a widow and a monk, I have been going to my son in Thessaloniki. To have a company too. I see a lot of people came. This shows that people over here are not intolerant. I grew up in Drama, from the age of 6-7 until now. I had my uncle’s business. Drama has a good crowd. They loved me very much. I say them and get emotional, because if you live in a city for so many years and you love and are loved, it’s hard to unhook from here».

D. Saltiel: “The city loved the monument”

Finally, in his statements, the president of the Central Jewish Council of Greece, David Saltiel, who attended the events, emphasized among others: “I am very moved by this modest ceremony that we commemorated the Jews from Drama and from northern Greece who were lost. I remember 24 years ago, I was a speaker here again at the inauguration of the monument. I am really pleased that the monument is without the slightest blemish, as it was then, 24 years ago. Unfortunately, other monuments are tarnished, damaged, but here I see that the monument was loved by the city and is exactly as it was 24 years ago. It is a day of respect for the Draman Jews who perished unjustly, as well as the 6 million Jews who perished in the Holocaust.”