Παρασκευή, 15 Ιουνίου 2012

Lecture on the history of Thessaloniki during the 20th century at UCLA draws crowd of Greeks and Jews

LOS ANGELES - Jun 14, 2012
Last Monday, a lecture by Paris Papamichos Chronakis, a Rothschild Foundation post-doctoral teaching fellow at the University of Thessaly and a visiting research scholar at UCLA, filled the auditorium at Royce Hall at the University of California, Los Angeles. The lecture discussed the history of Thessaloniki from the late 19 th to the mid 20 th Century.
The lecture and event was co-sponsored by the UCLA Department of History, the Consulate General of Greece in Los Angeles, the American Hellenic Council, the Hellenic University Club and the Greek Heritage Society of Southern California.
Dr. Chronakis, a resident of Thessaloniki, presented the item of his primary research. His main focus was the ethnic transformation of the city during the last few decades of its Ottoman rule and after 1912 and its annexation into the Greek nation-state. He described how Jews and Greeks interacted and how they contributed to the modernization of the city and he addressed the relations between the two major ethnic groups, sometimes peaceful and sometimes not so friendly, until WWII. Of particular interest was Dr. Chronakis' comment of the feelings of the Jewish population of Salonika towards their sense of home. His thesis was that, ironically, the majority of them did not identify the city where they grew up and lived in as their home until their tragic deportation to Auschwitz-Birkenau.
The event was a very well attended event by both Sephardic Jews and Greeks of the Diaspora alike. Los Angeles is home to both populations. Many Greeks immigrated here in the 1950s and 1960s. Likewise, the City of Angels was the recipient of a big proportion of Salonika Jews, survivors of the Holocaust, who, having returned to Salonika after the end of WWII and seeing a place they could no longer relate to, left to start a new life in the New World.
The attendees were positively impressed with the depth of information provided and Dr. Chronakis addressed a vivid Q&A session. Notable attendees included the Consul General of Greece in Los Angeles, Ms. Elisabeth Fotiadou and her husband Vasili Berdoukas who were instrumental in organizing the event, representatives of the American Jewish Committee, the Italian Consulate and Mr. Dario Gabbai, one of the last few Sonderkommandos still alive, a resident of Los Angeles, who was born and grew up in pre-WWII Salonika.
In a strange coincidence, during the same time, Thessaloniki was host to Laurent Dassault, CEO of Dassault Aviation, whose family tree includes the Allatini family, a Jewish family in pre-war Salonika. Mr. Dassault spoke on TV about his roots and his heritage and how those were so important in helping his grandfather creating one of the largest aviation giants in the world. (see video to the right)
The event in Los Angeles was followed by a reception. The American Hellenic Council thanks all those contributed to a successful event including Ms. Fotiadou, Zoe Rose Bonaiuto, Shelley Papadopoulos, Zafiris Gourgouliatos, Dr. Myers and the sponsors of the reception Van Ambatielos and Mike Begakis.
http://www.americanhellenic.org/press/2012-06-14_ucla_salonika_lecture.php

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