Before the Holocaust, Thessaloniki was home to 80,000 Jews. In 1943 under Nazi occupation some 60,000 Jews were deported to Treblinka and Auschwitz, approximately 90% of whom were murdered. A number of Thessaloniki Jews were involved in resistance acts both in the Warsaw uprising and the October 1944 attack and bombing in Auschwitz. Over 300 Greek Gentiles have been recognized by Yad Vashem as Righteous Among The Nations for risking and giving their lives to help the Jewish people during this time.
Holocaust survivor Maria Curtis (formerly known as Rachael Seror) is a 91-year-old woman who was born in Thessaloniki, but during the Nazi occupation lived in a Jewish ghetto outside of Thessaloniki from where she escaped when she was 20 years old with the help of a Russian Greek family. Curtis attributes her survival to this family of a Greek Orthodox priest. She had previously been fiends with one of the two daughters of this priest. This family hid her, fed her and protected her for about 18 months until the end of the war. Apart from her sister, Curtis’ whole family was killed by the Nazis. Today she lives in Melbourne, Australia.
Below is a link to a video testimony of Maria Curtis that was taped on August 19, 1997: