March 15, 1943: The first train bound for the Nazi concentration camp in Auschwitz departs from Thessaloniki. March 2023: 80 years later, the 25th Thessaloniki International Documentary Festival organizes a tribute, honoring the memory of the Jewish community of the city, that was exterminated during World War II. Bringing to the fore painful testimonies and shocking facts, the films of the tribute «Adio kerida*: From Thessaloniki to Auschwitz – 80 years» shed light to one of the darkest pages in world history. Τhe unhealed universal trauma act as a reminder and warning for the future.
*Adio kerida (or Adiós querida): A traditional Sephardic love song, written in Ladino, talks about separation, love, death. According to an urban legend of the Jewish community, ««Goodbye beloved» was sung by the Jewish people, just before entering the trains that would take them to the Nazi concentration camps.
The most shocking record of the horror of the Holocaust, «Shoah» (1985) by Claude Lanzmann, which has been voted the best documentary of all time by many film theorists, will be screened as part of the tribute. The mind-blowing 566-minute documentary will be screened in its full version.
Lanzmann worked non-stop for 11 years, conducting interviews with prison guards, witnesses and ex-Nazis and explored in depth the historical, anthropological and cultural impact of the Holocaust. A true cinematic accomplishment, Shoah ensures that the Holocaust will never be doomed to historical oblivion or fall under the excuse of ignorance.
In a special event, the power of music and the magic of cinema will come together on the stage of the Olympion theater. The «Golem» (1920) is an allegory for the tragic fate that would soon befall the Jews and is one of the first films to address issues of anti-Semitism. Directed by Paul Wegener and Carl Boese, this rare iconic film from the beginnings of German expressionism, paved the way for masterpieces such as Nosferatu and Metropolis.
The film draws inspiration from a medieval Jewish legend and today, beyond its historical value, is recognized as a cult science fiction gem. Beloved director and musician Yannis Veslemes wrote specially for the event an original score, which will be played live during the screening of the film.
The shocking film «Heroes of Salonika» (2021) by Tom Barkay focuses on the horrors of daily life inside the concentration camps. Six Jews from Thessaloniki, survivors of the Holocaust, most of whom live in Israel, describe in chilling detail the tortures, the extermination methods, the diseases, the starvation, the experiments they underwent. It is one of the rare times that we feel so deeply the brutality of Nazism and the extent of this universal crime.
In «Salonique, ville du silence» (2006), director Maurice Amaraggi, born in Thessaloniki, pays tribute to the glorious multicultural past of the city, called «Jerusalem of the Balkans», which comes into conflict with the narrative of a single national identity that prevailed after the end of the Balkan Wars. Combining images from the modern city with testimonies of Holocaust survivors, this nostalgic revival attempts to break the silence on the tragic fate of the Jewish community of Thessaloniki.
In the heartbreaking documentary «Children in Hiding» (2011) by Vassilis Loules, five elderly Greek Jews recount the terrifying experiences they had in occupied Greece during the Second World War.
Through the words and stories of people who lived the horror firsthand, we too become participants in a tragedy that will never cease to concern all of humanity.
The documentary «By-standing and Standing-by» (2012) by Fofo Terzidou traces both the rich history of the populous and thriving Jewish community of Thessaloniki and the less prominent path of the Jewish community of Katerini.
Through testimonies, evidence and analyses from historians, the film deals with the ever-present issue of official historical memory, exploring the destructive stereotypes that continue to this day to create prejudices and maintain the silence of the most inhumane crimes.
The full line-up of the tribute will be announced soon.