Thursday, July 29, 2010

Day 3: Jackie Handaly - Sephardic Holocaust Survivor speaks out

During our visit to Yad Vashem this afternoon we also met Jackie Handaly, one of the few Sephardic survivors of the Holocaust who miraculously survived the Nazi death camp of Auschwitz and other concentration camps during World War II. Handaly was one of the 50,000 Jews living in the Greek port city of Salonica and in his early teens when the Nazis deporting him and his family to Auschwitz to be murdered. His parents and siblings were exterminated at the death camp but due to miracles he ended up working in the camp’s kitchen which allowed him to survive. Toward the end of the war, he was involved in the death marches out of Auschwitz and sent to other Nazi death camps which he again managed to survive.

At the end of the war a little less than 2,000 Greek Jews from Salonica survived the genocide with the majority of the population being completely obliterated by the Nazis. Handaly said that Greek Jews perished and suffered tremendously because unlike their Ashkenazi brethren in the death camps, they could not understand the German guards speaking to them nor could they endure the tremendous frozen temperatures of eastern Europe.

The following are three different videos from Handaly’s story I captured during his re-telling of his experience at the hands of the Nazis…

- Karmel Melamed

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