(photo credit: Courtesy)
Greek Holocaust survivors who lost their citizenship after leaving their native
country in the 1930s will be eligible to retrieve this citizenship as a result
of recent legislation, a spokeswoman at Greece’s embassy in Tel Aviv said on
earlier this week.
Three Holocaust survivors went to the embassy this
week and formally asked for Greek passports, the spokeswoman said..
legislation has been in the works ever since Greek Prime Minister George
Papandreou, who has dramatically steered Athens’s policy toward Israel in a
positive direction, took power in 2009.
Karolos Papoulias, Greece’s
president, told a group of Greek Holocaust survivors he met with during his
visit here in July that he would look into returning passports to the
descendants of Jews who lost their citizenship in the 1930s. Among these Jews
were hundreds of port workers who came from Salonika to build Haifa
Some of the descendants of these workers, as well as descendants of
Greek Holocaust survivors, are keen on regaining the Greek passport because it
will enable them to live and work in any of the 27 EU countries. In
recent years thousands of Israelis have sought European passports – primarily
German – on the basis of their parents’ or grandparents’ ancestry.
are believed to be around 100 Greek Holocaust survivors in Israel.
passport issue came up in February when a delegation from the Conference of
Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations met with Greek leaders before
coming to Israel for their annual conference.
At the time, Deputy Foreign
Minister Dimitris Dollis was reported to have announced that Jews whose
citizenship was revoked would be able to reclaim it. Legislation,
however, was needed to make this possible.
Implementation of the new law
“puts an end to one period and marks the beginning of a new one. This law makes
possible giving Greek citizenship to Jews of Greek origin who, together with the
tragedy of the Holocaust, also faced difficulties of emigration and being cutoff
from the place of their birth,” the Greek Foreign Ministry said on
The law, the statement said, made possible the reconnection of
Greece with a big part of its diaspora that, “together with their identity as
Israelis, never stopped feeling Greek, loving Greece and following all its
developments over the years.”