The archives of the Jewish communities stolen by the Nazis during their withdrawal from Greece will be returned by Russia.
For many decades, the return of these documents was an important task for the Greek government. In the official statement of the press service following the meeting of Mitsotakis and Putin, as reported by RIA Novosti, it is said:
The Greek Prime Minister asked Mr Putin to resolve the long-standing issue of returning the archives of Jewish communities. The Russian President granted this request. The agreement, announced during joint statements by the two leaders, will initiate the repatriation of archives stolen by the Nazi occupation forces during their withdrawal from Greece and then recovered by the Soviet army in Berlin after the capture of the city.
These are archives, religious objects and books from 30 synagogues of Thessaloniki, libraries, public institutions, which were plundered by the Nazis on July 11, 1942. The documents were taken to Moscow in May 1945, after the occupation of Berlin by the Soviet army. Since 1997, Greece has tried in vain to repatriate the archives. Katimerini wrote about this on April 5, 2021, referring to the report of Stavros Papantoniou:
“Among the important conditions put forward in recent years were the return of the archive of the Russian Consulate General in Chania and the payment of compensation for the storage of Greek archives in Moscow. Both conditions were included in the protocol signed between the two parties in 2014. The financial condition established by the Russian side ( 87,000 euros), was fulfilled, since the amount of compensation was frozen, and the General State Archives had already digitized the archives of Chania.However, recently, in 2020, Russia set a different condition that was not in the 2014 protocol. new terms, the Greek side is ready to raise the issue of returning at least two files of the old consular authorities, which were documented for public records in Russia. “
Welcoming the long-awaited return of the archives, the Israeli Central Council of Greece states in today’s statement:
“On the 200th anniversary of the beginning of the struggle for Greek independence, our history is finally returning home! For Greek Judaism, these archives illuminate its historical path, sacred relics that capture the light of life and the darkness of plunder. The fulfillment of this decision will mean justice and will pass on knowledge about the part of the Greek people that contributed to the development of the country, but it no longer exists, namely the 60,000 Greek Jews who were displaced and exterminated in the Nazi death camps. “
Russian President Vladimir Putin said that it is important that both Greece and Russia attach dignified importance to caring for important historical and cultural sites for both countries, and preserving the rich historical heritage. Putin assured that the archives of the country’s Jewish communities, taken by the Nazis to Germany during World War II, will be handed over to Greece. Since 1945 they have been in Moscow. All necessary formalities will be completed in the near future.