Postwar Identity in the Making: Hidden Children in Volos (Greece)

Published: Jun 19, 2019
Holocaust memory testimony post-war hidden children Resistance
Pothiti Hantzaroula

The high percentage of Jewish Holocaust survivors from Volos, compared to the devastating death rate in the rest of Greece, makes the city a case of its own. Scholars have analysed the factors that contributed to the survival rate of 74 percent of Volos’ Jewish population and dealt with survivors’ struggles to rebuild their lives after the Shoah. Yet, less attention has been paid to the construction of the memory of survivors, its complex reworking and its importance in shaping the lives and identities of communities. The study of the “exceptional” case of Volos through a microhistorical approach offers an opportunity to understand the variety, as well as the commonalities, of experiences of survivors among various communities in postwar Greece. Thus, questions such as postwar reintegration in the city, relations with the Christian population, the role of antisemitism in shaping postwar identities, and mixed marriages can be better understood when situated in a comparative perspective. The persistence of antisemitism in Volos against a highly assimilated community shows that there are no easy equations, either between survival and assimilation or between help by non-Jewish locals and a lack of antisemitism. By focusing on child survivors that went into hiding during the Shoah and by exploring the mutual relations and perceptions between the non-Jewish and Jewish population, the article aims to understand the ways in which such relationships and perceptions shaped postwar Jewish identities.

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Author Biography
Pothiti Hantzaroula, University of the Aegean
Pothiti Hantzaroula is Assistant Professor of Historical Anthropology at the Department of Social Anthropology and History at the University of the Aegean. She studied Classics at the University of Athens, did an MA in Social History at the University of Warwick and completed her PhD thesis in History at the European University Institute of Florence in 2002. Her thesis entitled «The Making of Subordination: Domestic Service in Greece, 1920-1945» is an oral history of domestic service in inter-war Greece. As post-doctoral researcher she participated in the project Pythagoras Research Action: Gendered Aspects of Migration in Southeast Europe: Integration, Labour and Transnational Communication (GAME), EPEAEK II (Department of History, Archaeology and Social Anthropology, University of Thessaly) (2004-5). She was member of the network Servant Project under the FPS-Key Action of the European Commission (2001-3). She participated in the project "From the Inter-War Period to Reconstruction (1930-1960): Documenting the Experiences of the Greek Jews" supervised by Henriette Benveniste (University of Thessaly) and funded by the John S. Latsis Public Benefit Foundation (2011). Among her publications is Σμιλεύοντας την υποταγή: Οι έμμισθες οικιακές εργάτριες στην Ελλάδα το πρώτο μισό του εικοστού αιώνα [Sculpting subordination: Waged domestic workers in Greece in the first half of the twentieth century] (Athens: Papazisis, 2012). Her research interests include the history and historiography of gender and sexuality, intersections of class and gender, memory and history in the Second World War, and the history of emotions. She has translated in Greek Benedict Anderson’s Imagined Communities (Φαντασιακές κοινότητες, Athens: Nefeli 1996).
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