Synagonistis: The Greek Jews in the National Resistance

synagonistis-exhibitionThe exhibition “Synagonistis: The Greek Jews in the National Resistance – The Ones Who Never Wore the Yellow Star” was officially launched in Washington. Greek Minister of Foreign Affairs Nikos Kotzias, Greek Ambassador. Christos Panagopoulos, Senior Rabbi Bruce Lustig and the Director of Athens’ Jewish Museum Zanet Battinou, as well as several diplomatic, academic, cultural, journalistic and social elite representatives of the Greek-American and American-Jewish communities were present at the launch event.

The exhibition, originating from the Jewish Museum of Greece and presented by the Embassy of Greece, aims to honor the contribution of the Greek Jewish fighters to the struggle against the Nazis in occupied Greece, as well as dispute the theory that all Jews succumbed to the Holocaust like “lambs to the slaughter.” Apart from the historical reality of 1941-44, the exhibition presents the personal stories of Greek-Jews who participated in the National Resistance during the Second World War and joined in all the Greek resistance organizations of the era.

Thorough research that went on for five years resulted in the collection of personal stories of men and women from various Jewish communities of Greece, who took up arms in the dark days of the Occupation and were named “comrades in arms,” the supreme title of honor among Resistance fighters. Photographs, documents, letters, proclamations, resistance newspapers and other relevant material are being presented for the first time. The exhibition is accompanied by a bilingual catalog, a documentary film by David Gavriilidis, as well as a specially designed educational program for schools.

“Synagonistis” is the Greek word for “fellow fighter” and it’s exactly this notion that the exhibition is highlighting: Greek Jews fought side by side with Greek Christians against the same enemy, in defense of the same country. It is a duty to save them from oblivion and this is the goal of this exhibition. “It is also a voice against anti-Semitism and racism,” said Press Counselor Christos Failadis, exhibition manager on the part of the Greek Embassy in Washington, D.C.

Along with the fake IDs given by the Greek authorities to Greek Jews, the official protest by Archbishop Damaskinos against the persecution of Jews and the salvage of the Jewish population of the island of Zakynthos thanks to the heroic actions by Metropolitan Chrysostomos and Mayor Lukas Karrer, “Synagonistis” is another glorious page in the modern history of Greece.

A letter from Archbishop Demetrios of America was read during the launch event, where he stressed that “that the contribution of the Jewish population of Greece in the fight against the Nazi-Fascist powers has been much greater than usually described due to the limited first-hand information.”

“Synagonistis” is presented in Washington, D.C. by the Embassy of Greece with the contribution of the Secretariat General of Communication of Greece. The exhibition will be presented in the Washington Hebrew Congregation, from April 1 to May 26. Furthermore, a proposal has been made for the exhibition to travel to several U.S. states.