Skopje, and more on Thessaloniki…

An addendum to the Thessaloniki post…

Before 1917 the population of Thessaloniki was half Jewish. Then there was a huge fire that tore through the city. Much of the burg was destroyed. Many Jewish families left the city at that time, moving to Palestine and the USA among other spots. In all reality, the Jewish people built that city and were the primary bankers, shippers, traders, and businessmen for over 150 years. The city would not exist if it were not for them. Then came the Second World War and Hitler, and Eichmann, and the Nazi Final Solution.

First the Nazis rounded up all Jewish men between the ages of 18 and 40 and sent them to work camps around the area. The whole population of Thessaloniki rallied to their defense and secured their release through a huge ransom payment. Then the Nazis desecrated the enormous Jewish graveyard, digging it up, destroying the remains, and smashing all the monuments. The University of Thessaloniki now resides on that once hallowed ground. After that, the entire Jewish population of 50,000 ( it is estimated that only 2 0r 3% evaded capture) was rounded up and packed into cattle cars off to Aushwitz-Birkenthau. On arrival 77% were immediately gassed and cremated, and those that remained were sent to labor. many of them died as well. Very few survived the war.

As of today, in a city of over 350,000 people there are only about 1000 Jews. Their neighborhoods are filled with posh looking cafes and strip joints. Anyway, I have only one question…

Where were the people of Thessaloniki when the cattle cars were being loaded? Was the Nazi propaganda machine that good?

So I left Thessaloniki, gratefully, and am now in sunny, peaceful, although turbulent, Skopje, Macedonia. The food is great (vishla sausages…yum!) and I am on my way tomorrow to visit an AA friend in a nearby town. She works in the Peace Corps. After that, on to Sarajevo…The journey is indeed the thing…

Johnnyboy

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Johnnyboy

Johnnyboy is a queer recovering alcoholic. For the moment he is also the primary caregiver for his mother, who suffers from age-related cognitive impairment. She is happy as a lark and is surrounded by a crew of sober women which gives him the freedom he needs to get out of town. When he is not at home in Somewheresville, he is searching out the proper path to travel for happiness and joy. He is a photographer who believes in the digital age, but feels that film is still where its at. He has a darkroom and works in it. He is single and is in remarkably great physical condition for all the damage he has submitted his body to. His cardiologist is very happy. Johnnyboy is over the age of 35.

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