Russia returns Jewish archives to Greece

The decision of the Russian government to return looted Jewish archives to Greece, as reported in Israel Hayom,  sets a hopeful precedent for the return of other Jewish archives to their rightful owners. However, 10,000 volumes from the Chabad book collection remain behind in Moscow, despite Chabad winning a 2010 case ordering its shipment to New York. (With thanks: Nancy, Lily)

The Monastir synagogue in Thessaloniki

Our history returns home!” the Central Board of Jewish Communities in Greece (KISE) said in a statement after the news was announced by Russian President Vladimir Putin during a joint press briefing with Greek President Kyriakos Mitsotakis in Sochi on Wednesday.

The majority of the looted archives were taken by Nazis in July 1942 from Thessaloniki, which once had a thriving Jewish community. Nazi forces plundered archives, books and religious artifacts from 30 synagogues, libraries and communal institutions in the city. The Russian army seized possession of the archives when it conquered Berlin in May 1945 and transferred the materials to Moscow, where they were held until now.

“For Greek Jewry, these archives bring light to its historic course – sacred heirlooms of the light of life, and the darkness of the looting and the Holocaust,” said KISE. “Their restitution would mean justice and would transmit knowledge about a part of the Greek people that contributed to the progress of the country and no longer exists – that of the 60,000 Greek Jews who were deported to and exterminated in the Nazi death camps.”

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