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Exploring South Korea’s Greek Mythology Museum

Greek mythology museum Korea
The Greek Mythology Museum in Jeju, South Korea. Credit: Screenshot/Youtube

The island of Jeju in South Korea is home to the Greek Mythology Museum where visitors can immerse themselves in the world of the Greek gods.

The museum itself is modeled after classical Greek architecture, featuring a row of columns outside.

As visitors enter the Greek mythology museum, which is located on Jeju Island, a popular tourist destination, they immediately encounter replicas of ancient Greek statues and famous paintings depicting scenes from Greek mythology.

The impressive museum is divided into seven large galleries that are all focused on one aspect of Greek mythology, such as the “Olympus Galley,” the “Love Gallery,” and the “Hero Gallery.”

Greek Mythology Museum in Korea home to countless replicas of ancient Greek sculptures

Each gallery features spectacular white-plaster replicas of imposing ancient sculptures, as well as information regarding Greek mythology and history in both Korean and English.

It even features a replica of an ancient Greek village that visitors can explore, as well as historically accurate costumes they can wear, which help to transport them through time back to ancient Greece.

In the “Olympus Gallery,” replicas of famous ancient Greek sculptures of the gods line the room, along with copies of famous paintings depicting stories from Greek myth.

greek mythology museum south korea
A sculpture of Demeter in the Greek Mythology Museum in Korea. Credit: Screenshot/ Youtube

Visitors can learn about each of the twelve gods and admire the artwork displayed in the museum. The site is also home to a number of replicas of important items from Greek mythology, such as the Trojan Horse, albeit in a smaller scale.

The museum also features interactive displays about zodiac signs and the constellations, and even explains the Greek myths behind many of the constellations.

Korea’s Greek Mythology Museum is the perfect place for both children and adults to deepen their knowledge of Greek mythology while also having fun, as the museum also features a number of “trickeye,” or optical illusion, displays.

Jeju Island, located in the Korean Sea just below the Korean Peninsula, is a popular tourist destination for Koreans due to its warm weather, stunning beaches, and dramatic landscapes.

Despite being separated by a great distance, Greece and Korea have shared a strong bond since the two countries opened a diplomatic relationship in 1961, but even before then, when Greece sent 10,000 troops to fight in Korea in 1950.

During an event honoring sixty years of diplomatic relations between the countries that was held in October 2021, Greek musician and composer Tsalikian Miran played the Korean national anthem on the bouzouki, an iconic Greek instrument.

This was the first time that the bouzouki was used to play the national anthem of a nation, apart from Greece, at an official event.

Tomb Of Constantine II, Former King of Greece, Damaged By Severe Weather

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The abandoned Tatoi Palace. Credit: Wikimedia Commons

The tomb of the former King of Greece Constantine II suffered damage caused by severe weather, according to a local TV news show, but was swiftly repaired within hours, the report added.

Mega TV’s Live News aired footage on Friday showing corroded soil around the tomb, which hasn’t been set in marble yet as religious customs in Greece see the engraved headstone constructed in the forty days following a person’s passing.

The former monarch of Greece was laid to rest at the estate of the former royal residence of Tatoi, north of Athens, on January 16, during a private ceremony in the presence of members of royal families from all over Europe.

There, Constantine II was buried near the tombs of his parents, King Paul and Queen Frederica of Greece, and other royal ancestors.

The royals buried at Tatoi besides King Constantine II

Tatoi Royal Cemetery is a private cemetery located on the south end of the vast estate surrounding the former royal residence, in a large wooded area.

Besides Constantine II, five late Kings of Greece are buried at Tatoi; also four Princes and eleven Queens, Princesses or Grand Duchesses – which makes it a place of unique historical significance.

In the early 20th century, a separate mausoleum was built to house the bodies of King Constantine I, his Queen Sophia, and their son Alexander, the young King who died tragically from the effects of a monkey bite in 1920.

The rest of the royals are buried in tombs with crosses near the Royal Chapel at Tatoi.

Graves of Constantine I of Greece, Sophia of Prussia and Alexander I of Greece in the Tatoi Palace mausoleum.
Graves of Constantine I of Greece, Sophia of Prussia and Alexander I of Greece in the Tatoi Palace mausoleum. Credit: Catlemur CC by SA 4.0 via Wikimedia Commons

Tatoi Palace in disrepair despite announced preservation plans

A decade ago, the former royal residence in Tatoi was shortlisted among the fourteen most endangered monuments and sites in Europe, according to Europa Nostra, a pan-European Federation for Cultural Heritage.

Purchased by King George I, with private funds he had brought from Denmark during the 1880s, the Tatoi estate was passed down as private property to Constantine II until 1994, when the royal estates were officially confiscated by the government as a result of the abolishment of monarchy in Greece in 1973.

The property was abandoned completely by the Greek state until 2007, when consecutive governments started to speak of preservation plans which never really took off until 2019.

But in summer 2021, the estate suffered a new blow, as it became engulfed by catastrophic wildfires which destroyed the natural landscape, as well as a number of important estate buildings and any heirlooms that were stored in them.

Following the passing of Constantine II, which forced local authorities to speed up the clean-up of the burnt land ahead of his funeral, Culture and Sports Minister Lina Mendoni said that the government intended to open the doors of Tatoi estate to the public as a museum by 2025.

The budget for the project is estimated at 90 million euro, according to Mendoni.

Decoding Linear A, the Writing System of the Ancient Minoans

linear A
Linear A incised on tablets found in Akrotiri, on the Greek island of Santorini. Credit: /Wikimedia Commons/CC BY-SA 3.0

Linear A, a writing system that was used by the ancient Minoans from 1800 to 1450 BC, has never been fully decrypted.

Used in governmental and religious writings of the Minoan Civilization, the script has intrigued and frustrated experts for centuries.

Now, for the first time, scientists and archaeologists believe that they have decrypted symbols denoting numerical fractions in the Linear A writing system.

The alphabet called Linear A was first discovered and named by British archaeologist Sir Arthur Evans, who lived from 1851-1941.

Linear A has never been dechipered

It was succeeded by Linear B, which was used by the Mycenaeans to write an early form of Greek. No complete texts in Linear A have ever been deciphered.

The term ‘linear’ derives from script that was written by using a stylus to cut lines into a clay tablet, as opposed to “cuneiform,” which was written by using a stylus to press wedge shaped letters into the clay.

Linear A belongs to a group of scripts which are similar to hieroglyphics, but they evolved independently from the Egyptian and Mesopotamian writing systems.

During the second millennium BC, there were four major branches of this alphabet: Linear A, Linear B, Cypro-Minoan, and Cretan hieroglyphic.

In the 1950s, archaeologists deciphered Linear B as Mycenaean Greek. They found that Linear B shares many symbols with Linear A, and they may notate similar syllabic values.

But neither those nor any other proposed readings led to a language that can be read by experts.

The only part of the script that can be deciphered and read are the signs for numbers — which, however, are still only known as numerical values. The actual words for those numbers remain unknown.

One symbol for each fraction

But now, researchers in Bologna, Italy have deciphered the mathematical quantities for these symbols by combining methods of linguistics, mathematics and archeology and comparing the material with the corresponding hieroglyphic symbols from Egypt and Mesopotamia, which are known.

The researchers started with the hypothesis that the simple division by two, the fraction ½, was the most common and that any fraction greater than ½ can be expressed as ½ + x. On this basis, the researchers calculated the various combinations and the frequency of the fractions they saw.

The Bologna researchers created a table in which all the possible symbols of the fractions of Linear A were classified into specific numerical quantities.

Published in the Journal of Archaeological Science, the table shows semicircular symbols with a serial number of lines for the fractions 1/4, 1/5 or 1/20, 1/30 and so on up to 1/60.

The symbol for 1/10 is reminiscent of the letter T. However, the fraction most often found on clay tablets is ½, which is like the letter J. The researchers from Bologna are optimistic that the combined method they used will one day lead to the decipherment of the entire enigmatic Linear A writing system.

The researchers found that tens were marked with horizontal lines or dots, hundreds with circles and thousands with circles framed by lines. What is striking is that the Minoans used even decimal fractions for their calculations and for recording quantities.

According to the researchers, Linear A contains 17 symbols which obviously meant fractions.

These decimal fractions were represented by triangular or semicircular symbols supplemented by one or more dots.

Scientists had already discovered this, but to date they had not been able to find the correspondence of the symbols with specific fractions.

The clay tablets that have survived are often fragmentary, and the correspondences have changed over time.

Linear A texts have been found throughout the island of Crete and also on Kythera, Kea, Thera, and Melos in the Aegean and on the Greek mainland.

The Bologna researchers believe that by continuing the study, they will one day decipher all the Linear A symbols and gain better insight into the language.

Thessaloniki Film Festival Joins European Festivals Alliance

Olympion Cinema Thessaloniki
Thessaloniki International Film Festival Joins European Festivals Alliance. Olympion Cinema Thessaloniki. Credit: Zorba at Wikinews / Wikimedia

Thessaloniki International Film Festival (TIFF),  has joined Smart 7, a new cooperation network of seven European festivals from different cultural and geopolitical areas across the continent.

The network was launched as an alliance to meet the current needs of the filming industry and to provide a vision for the future of festival culture, TIFF says in an announcement.

The initiative’s program will carry out the design and development of four specific workshops over a period of two years, focused on the ways to deal with the new challenges facing the industry.

Aiming to foster the transnational circulation of European titles, Smart 7 will also feature a competitive section, consisting of a selection of seven national films – one from each member country – which will compete for a prize of 5,000 euros and will be judged by a jury of university students.

European cinema from Reykjavik to Vilnius

Supported by Creative Europe MEDIA and the European Festival Networks, Smart 7 is the result of a natural collaboration process between seven agents, the announcement notes.

The participating countries – Poland, Lithuania, Portugal, Spain, Greece, Romania and Iceland – share similar goals and visions, thus the main purpose of Smart 7 is not only to respond to current needs, but also to define common trends for future growth and development of the industry and festival culture.

This will be achieved through enriching the experiences of the festivals and their teams, promoting the professionalization of the sector, developping new audiences, and expanding the exhibition circuit for European cinema.

The funds obtained through this call will help to develop a professional framework that favors the implementation of a full activities program aiming to create a forum for international exchange and learning.

All seven festivals will incorporate the program developed in the network and will work closely together, while respecting their own individual identity and programming criteria each.

Filming workshops and competition

The four workshops for filming professionals will cover topics such as programming and audience development, sponsorship and fundraising, promotion and sales, sustainability and green practices.

However, the initiative will be open to participation of other cultural agents, in order to amplify the impact of the experience and to boost and strengthen the cultural industry in general.

Besides the workshops, Smart7’s selection of films in the competitive section will represent all the member countries in the network and will be screened in each of the festivals.

According to TIFF, the films taking part in the competitive section must be made by emerging filmmakers committed to new narratives and innovative cinema language.

The jury will be formed by university students from each country, to encourage the development of young audiences and their familiarization with European cinema.

Video Released of Memphis Police Beating Tyre Nichols

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Tyre Nichols Memphis Police
On Friday, a video was released which showed the beating of Tyre Nichols by Police officers in Memphis. Credit: Memphis Police (Officer Body Cam)

A video was released today on January 27, by US authorities, which showed members of the Memphis Police Department (MPD) beating Tyre Nichols during his arrest.

Five police officers were charged on Thursday with second-degree murder over the incident which took place in early January.

According to the police, Nichols was pulled over for reckless driving on January 7. He then tried to run before a second “confrontation” with the police.

After the arrest, Nichols complained of suffering from shortness of breath. He was taken to a hospital but died on January 10.

The city of Memphis has been bracing for the release of the video, which many fear will spark widespread unrest. US President Joe Biden called for calm ahead of the video’s release.

Biden speaks with the Nichols family

President Biden called Tyre Nichol’s parents ahead of the video’s release. “I know it’s devastating,” the president said to Nichol’s parents. “I know people say that to you. But I do know – I’ve lost my son in a war, the consequence of a war in Iraq, being there a year. I lost my daughter when a tractor-trailer broadsided and killed my wife and daughter.”

“I don’t know how you stood there – I didn’t have the courage to do what you did,” Biden added, referring to a press conference held earlier concerning Nichol’s death.

Earlier on Friday, the president took to Twitter to express his condolences. “Jill and I extend our hearts to the family of Tyre Nichols – they deserve a swift, full, and transparent investigation,” Biden tweeted.

“Tyre’s death is a painful reminder that we must do more to ensure that our justice system lives up to the promise of fairness and dignity for all,” he added.

The incident

On January 7, Nichol’s vehicle was stopped by police in the city of Memphis, Tennessee,  for what was later described as “reckless driving”. According to the Memphis Police Department, Nichols ran before officers had another “confrontation” with him.

Nichols died three days later in hospital. An independent autopsy determined that he died from “extensive bleeding caused by a severe beating”. The Nichols family lawyer Antonio Romanucci claimed that “He was a human piñata for those police officers.”

About three weeks after the incident, on January 27, five ex-police officers who were involved in the incident were charged with second-degree murder. They also face charges of aggravated assault, aggravated kidnapping, official misconduct, and official oppression.

The police incident and subsequent death of Tyre Nichols have sparked another debate concerning police treatment of African Americans in the US. The five policemen charged with Nichol’s murder, a black man, are also all black.

The police officers who have been charged in relation to the incident have been identified as Demetrius Haley, Desmond Mills, Jr, Emmitt Martin III, Justin Smith, and Tadarrius Bean.

HACC Forum on Tourism and Study Opportunities in Greece

HACC forum
The forum will appeal to international students that are considering starting or continuing their studies in “sunny” Greece. Credit: Greek Reporter

The Hellenic-American Chamber of Commerce (HACC) organizes a virtual forum on Saturday, January 28 on Greek tourism and opportunities to study in “sunny” Greece.

Titled “Greek Tourism for all seasons and in many forms,” the forum will explore the favorite destinations and alternative forms of tourism in Greece. It will delve into what Greece has to offer in terms of sports tourism, religious destinations, gastronomy, luxury, and unique places for all seasons.

The forum will also appeal to international students that are considering starting or continuing their studies in Greece. Experts will explain how graduates with an International Bachelor’s or Master’s degree, can be taught in English, from highly ranked Public or Private universities in “sunny” Greece at low cost.

Also, they will explain how to study for a joint degree between Greek and US Universities (including Ivy League), while studying in Greece and how to join accredited summer school sessions, short-term or semester abroad programs, and international archeological, cultural, and heritage programs.

The virtual forum will be held at 10.00-13.30 NY time (17.00-20.30 Athens time)

Speakers at the HACC forum

Among the speakers are Olympia K. Anastasopoulou, Secretary General for Tourism policy and development of Greece, Angela Gerekou, President of the Greek National Tourism Office, Nicholas Kelaiditis, President of the Hellenic association of travel and tourism agencies (HATTA), George Vernicos, General Secretary of SETE, Association of Greek Tourism Enterprise, Joanna Kalafatis, Travel writer, and producer, NikosVernicos, Shipowner, President EmeritusICC-Hellas, Member ofthe board of Hellenic Chamber of Shipping, Chef Maria Loi, Chef, entrepreneur, Greek FoodAmbassador, Philanthropist, Author, TVHost&Healthy Lifestyle Expert, Angelos Syrigos Deputy Minister of Education and Religious Affairs of Greece and Dr. Loren J. Samons, Chief Academic Advisor &Executive Director of the Institute for Hellenic Culture and the Liberal Arts, The American College of Greece.

For the full program of the forum please follow the link.

HACC promotes economic and cultural ties between Greece and the U.S.

The Hellenic-American Chamber of Commerce was formed over 70 years ago for the purpose of promoting and strengthening the economic and cultural ties between the United States of America and Greece.

Since that time, the organization has grown and its scope has broadened beyond the express purpose of fostering and developing commercial and trade relations between Greece and the United States.​

Beyond its traditional commercial role, the Chamber administered the “George E. Athans Scholarship Fund” (prior to entrusting it to the Office of Financial Aid at New York University), and continues to assist in the selection of its recipients.

The Chamber honorees for achievement have not been limited to commerce but have come from the arts and politics as well. The Chamber has co-sponsored investment seminars and hosted political leaders.

The Chamber today is a multifaceted organization that offers different things to different people and provides a network and forum for its members to meet, interact, and exchange ideas. It is a vehicle from which to gain an additional perspective.

The Greek Origin of the Ancient City of Troy

Ruins of the ancient city of Troy
Ruins of the ancient city of Troy. Credit: /Wikimedia Commons/

The Trojan War is one of the most famous events in Greek mythology. It was a mighty, ten-year war between the Greeks and the Trojans. But what many people do not know is that Troy itself is actually Greek – at least according to what the mythology tells us.

The Greek origin of the Troad

The story of Troy’s origin begins with a man named Teucer. He would have lived around two centuries before the Trojan War. In the Aeneid, the Roman writer Virgil tells us that Teucer was originally from Crete. By this point, some two centuries before the Trojan War, Crete was a Greek island (previously Minoan civilization flourished.) The Greek historian Dionysius of Halicarnassus presents a slightly different version, in which Teucer came from Attica in Greece. In either case, Teucer was definitely Greek, whether from Greece itself or from Crete.

According to Virgil, Teucer and numerous of his companions left Crete during a time of famine and settled in northwest Anatolia, near the Scamander River – the region that later came to be known as the Troad in honour of Troy. He thus founded a dynasty there.

After Teucer set up his kingdom, another founding figure arrived. This was Dardanus. The historian Dionysius explains that he came from Arcadia in Greece. After arriving in the area, Dardanus married the daughter of Teucer. A record from the fourth century BCE supports this, stating that Dardanus married into ‘the royal house of Crete’. Since Teucer did not have a son, Dardanus inherited his kingdom and became the new ruler of the Troad.

The Greek origin of the city of Troy

"Achilles in his chariot rides over the body of the slain Hector" by Antonio Raffaele Calliano, 1815. A scene from the Iliad
Achilles in his chariot rides over the body of the slain Hector”. A scene from the Iliad. Credit: Antonio Raffaele Calliano / Wikimedia Commons CC BY-SA 4.0

Dardanus’s grandson was named Tros. He inherited the kingdom and named it ‘Troy’ after himself. The inhabitants of the Troad – the descendants of Teucer and his Cretan companions, as well as the descendants of Dardanus – thus came to be known as Trojans. However, the actual city of Troy had not yet been built. It seems that the chief city of the people was still the city built by Dardanus at the foot of Mount Ida.

Tros had a son named Ilus. While he was still young, he went to the nearby kingdom of Phrygia and won a wrestling competition. As part of his reward, the king of Phrygia gave him a cow and asked him to found a city wherever the cow decided to lay down.

Following this instruction, Ilus founded a city which he called Ilios in honour of himself. Because Ilios was the new chief city of the Trojans, the name ‘Troy’ was applied to it. This is why the city was known both as ‘Ilios’ and as ‘Troy’.

Homer’s account of the Trojan War in the Iliad supports the Greek origin of Troy. He presents the Trojans as speaking the same language as the Greeks, having the same culture as the Greeks, and worshipping the same gods as the Greeks. The historian Dionysius went so far as to say that ‘the Trojans were a nation as truly Greek as any’.

The Archaeology of Bronze Age Troy

The Bronze Age city of Troy was called ‘Wilusa’ in Hittite records. This is clearly a form of the name ‘Ilios’ (Greek: Ἴλιος). Troy was also called “Ilion”. The name Ilion is used by Homer, the author of the Iliad and the Odyssey, interchangeably with Troy. In fact that is the reason that the epic poem is named “Iliad”. Beyond this, scholars do not know very much about Bronze Age Troy. It was obviously a powerful city, but almost no written records have survived from it. The only written records that have been found are written in Luwian.

However, it is interesting to note that one Hittite record refers to the king of Wilusa as being a man named Alaksandu. Most scholars agree that ‘Alaksandu’ is a Hittite spelling of the Greek name ‘Alexandros’. This lends some support to the idea that the ruling class of Troy had a Greek origin.

One of the primary characters in the Iliad is called Alexandros (and occasionally Paris). He was a descendant of the royal family of the city of Troy, more specific the son of the king of Troy, Priam. Alexandros, also known as Paris was the person who took Helen and triggered the Trojan war

Some scholars suggest that the Alaksandu of Hittite records might have had a Greek name only because of being the son of a Greek concubine, a slave woman captured by the king of Wilusa.

The Archaeology of Dark Age Troy

It is much more probable that the legendary accounts of Troy being founded by Greek settlers came from distorted memories of much more recent events in the history of Troy. After a destruction in c. 950 BCE, Troy experienced a period of near-total abandonment. About half a century later, in c. 900 BCE, Greeks started settling the region of Troy.

It was still very weak and poorly inhabited at this point. About one century later, in c. 800 BCE, notable construction work occurred at Troy. If the Greek settlement of the area in c. 900 BCE corresponds to the legendary arrival of Teucer and then Dardanus, then the building work in c. 800 BCE would logically correspond to the ‘founding’ of the city of Troy by Ilus, the great-grandson of Dardanus.

Greek mythology tells us that Ilus had a son named Laomedon. He was responsible for fortifying Troy with large defensive walls. Interestingly, just half a century after the building work in c. 800 BCE, archaeology reveals that there was additional construction work, including fortification work in particular.

The Holocaust of Greek Jews: When 59,000 Perished in Nazi Camps

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Holocaust of Greek Jews
The Holocaust of Greek Jews: When 59,000 Perished in Nazi Camps. Image: Registration of the Jews of Thessaloniki, Greece during the Holocaust by the Nazis, July 1942. Credit: Public Domain

The Holocaust of the Greek Jews was one of the darkest episodes of the Nazi occupation of the country.

Once part of thriving communities in several Greek cities, approximately 59,000 Greek Jews were victims of the Holocaust — at least 83 percent of the total number living in Greece at the time of World War II and the German Occupation.

Thessaloniki was the cultural hub for Sephardic Jews who had been expelled from Spain in 1492. The city counted 50,000 Jews, about two-thirds of Greek Jewry. Thessaloniki Jews were politically, economically, and socially well-integrated into Greek society after hundreds of years living there.

During the German Occupation (1941-1944), Thessaloniki Jews suffered a terrible fate. The Nazis confined them to ghettos, forced them to wear a yellow star on their clothes and banned them from public spaces. Jewish newspapers were closed, and synagogues, businesses, and hospitals looted.

In 1942, German authorities, with the assistance of local authorities, demolished an ancient Jewish cemetery. Today, it is the site of the campus of the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki.

On July 11th, 1942, a day that would come to be known as “Black Shabbat,” Jewish men aged 18-45 were called to Eleftherias Square for forced labor and made at gunpoint to perform humiliating physical activities. One year later, some 54,000 Jews were sent to Nazi extermination camps, mainly Auschwitz-Birkenau. More than 90 percent of the city’s Jewish population was murdered.

Holocaust of Greek Jews
The humiliation of the Jews, Eleftherias Square. Credit: Public Domain

In Thrace in 1943, the Bulgarian authorities that had allied with the Germans deported Thracian and Macedonian Jews to the Treblinka death camp and fewer than 10 percent of the total of 4,000 survived. They even arrested and deported the three Jews who were living on Samothrace Island.

In Ioannina, there were the Romaniote Jews, who called themselves Yanniote Jews. They were a thriving community of about 4,000 to 5,000 at the beginning of the 20th century.  By the time World War II started, there were only 2,000 left because the rest had immigrated, mostly to America. By the end of the Nazi occupation, only 50 survived; the rest had met a horrible fate in the death camps.

In Athens, the Italian occupation forces did not participate in the deportation of Jews to the camps. However, when Italy surrendered to the Allies on September 8th, 1943, its occupied zone was turned over to the Nazis, who put Jews on trains and sent them to their deaths.

The local population of the capital city participated little in the destruction of the Jewish community. About two-thirds of Athens’ Jews survived the war due to the brave actions of Archbishop of Athens Damaskinos and Police Commissioner Angelos Evert, who had issued many fake identification cards for Jews and had implored Athenian citizens to help them.

On the island of Zakynthos, the city mayor and bishop successfully hid all 275 Jews living there.

Some 59,000 Greek Jews perished during World War II, murdered by the Nazis, representing about 83 percent of the total Jewish population. It was one of the highest percentages in Europe.

Holocaust survivors in Greece

There are very few Greek Jews who survived the holocaust who are still alive today. One of the longest-surviving victims was Esther Cohen, who described the atrocities the Nazis put her through in the following interview.

She and her sister were the only survivors from all her family. Her parents and the rest of her siblings were killed.

Most of the Jews who survived the war and the Holocaust lived in Athens, Greece.

“I was but a child but I forgot nothing,” 83-year-old Lola Angel recounts, talking to AFP about the days in the Nazi concentration camp. “The memories still haunt me, and the intense smells of the camp are ever-present.”

The Angel family fled to Athens from Thessaloniki. In April 1944, the little girl and her family were put on a train to an unknown destination. “We were packed atop each other and could hardly breathe. Many died en route,” she said.

At Bergen-Belsen, the Nazis used another method. “It was slow death by disease. After the Allies landed in Normandy, the Nazis began concentrating people there, hoping they would die of typhus.”

Her father fell ill with the disease while Lola caught measles. As a child, she survived through her childhood distractions, like her doll.

Just before Bergen-Belsen was liberated in April 1945, little Lola was removed by train to north Germany, to be exterminated before the Allies arrived.

The girl was lucky, though. After days of traveling, the soldiers fled and abandoned the train. The prisoners were found by American soldiers a few hours later. Most of them were close to death due to starvation and exhaustion.

“Even today I have nightmares. And I rarely board trains,” Lola Angel told AFP.

Greeks who saved Jews

To date 352 Greeks have received the title of “Righteous Among the Nations”, an honorific used by the State of Israel to describe non-Jews who risked their lives during the Holocaust to save Jews from the Nazi claws.

The best known of them are the late Archbishop of Athens and All Greece Damaskinos, Greek resistance heroine Lela Karagianni, former Chief of the Hellenic Police Force Angelos Evert, former Mayor of Zakynthos Loukas Carrer, late Metropolitan of Zakynthos Chrysostomos, and late Metropolitan of Dimitriada Ioakeim.

There are several stories of Greeks who helped Jews avoid a horrible death in the extermination camps. Jews had been in Greece for centuries and were incorporated in the country’s culture. During the Nazi occupation, the bonds between the two peoples became evident as some Greeks risked their own lives to protect their fellow men.

The most striking example was the story of the Jews of Zakynthos. In 1943, the German commander of Zakynthos asked the island’s mayor, Loukas Karrer, to give him a list of every single one of the Jewish people who lived on the island.

The mayor knew very well what would happen to the 275 Zakynthos Jews, and consulted with the bishop of the island, Chrysostomos. The two men took the brave decision to deny to write down the names of these people.

The commander became furious and threatened the two men to come up with the list or else he would order them shot. The next step the two community leaders took was to write a list with two names only — the mayor’s and the bishop’s.

Along with that, the mayor wrote a letter directed to Hitler himself, saying that he put all the island’s residents under his wing, in the hope that the German leader would not give orders to wipe out a whole village. He also advised the 275 island Jews to disappear from the public eye and hide.

Indeed, such an order never came to Zakynthos and the Germans put the deportation plans on hold and stopped asking for the list. None of the 275 Jews of Zakynthos ever fell into the hands of the Nazis.

Then there is the story of Melpomeni Dina, the brave teenager from Veroia, who along with her two older sisters, hid all seven members of the Mordechai family in her home during the Nazi persecution. She is still alive today, at 92, and in November 2019 had a beautiful meeting with all the descendants of the family she had saved in Israel.

Holocaust of Greek Jews
Princess Alice had called herself a Greek when the Nazis questioned her about her activities.

The grandmother of Prince Charles who saved Jews in Greece during Holocaust

In January 2020, Britain’s Prince Charles visited his grandmother’s tomb at the church of St. Mary Magdalene in Jerusalem, Israel.

It is a little-known historical fact, but Princess Alice herself had sheltered Jews in Greece during the Holocaust.

The Prince of Wales paid tribute to his grandmother at the World Holocaust Forum, which was attended by dozens of world leaders, coinciding with the 75th anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz death camp.

“I have long drawn inspiration from the selfless actions of my dear grandmother, Princess Alice of Greece, who in 1943, in Nazi-occupied Athens, saved a Jewish family by taking them into her home and hiding them,” Charles said.

Princess Alice is named Righteous Among the Nations, an honor bestowed by Israel’s Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial on non-Jews who risked their lives to save Jews during the Holocaust.

She was married to Prince Andrew of Greece in 1903 and had five children, including Prince Philip, the future Duke of Edinburgh and consort to Queen Elizabeth II. Political turmoil in Greece led to the family’s exile — twice.

Later in her life, she was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia and spent years in a sanitarium in Switzerland. She became a Greek Orthodox nun in 1928 and returned to Athens in 1940, where she devoted decades of her life to serving the needy.

During the German Occupation, Princess Alice sheltered three members of the Cohen family, circumventing the Gestapo, which had sought her for questioning.

Fitch Ratings Upgrades Greece to BB+ Outlook Stable IDR

Fitch Ratings
Fitch Ratings upgraded Greece’s Long-Term Foreign-Currency Issuer Default Rating (IDR) on Friday. The IDR is now rated BB+ Outlook Stable. Credit: Gideon Benari / Flickr CC BY-2.0

Fitch Ratings upgraded Greece’s Long-Term Foreign-Currency Issuer Default Rating (IDR) to “BB+” on Friday. The previous rating was “BB”. The Outlook is now Stable.

The news is positive for the Greek economy, which has been on a bumpy road since the sovereign debt crisis rocked the country in 2009.

According to Fitch, the upgrade reflects improved fiscal outturns, reduced banking sector risks, structural strengths, as well as the country’s macro outlook and reform momentum. Fitch also addressed the impacts of inflation, stable financing costs, the external balancing sheet, upcoming elections, the country ceiling, and ESG scores.

Fitch upgrades Greece’s IDR

The decision to upgrade Greece’s IDR was based on several factors. Improved fiscal outturns played an important role.

According to Fitch’s rating action commentary, Greece is expected to generate “better deficit and debt outturns and projections in 2022-2024, thanks to stronger nominal growth, budget over-execution and a favorable debt-servicing structure.”

Fitch also projects “a further narrowing of the general government deficit to 1.8% of GDP in 2024 from an estimated 3.8% in 2022, in part due to streamlining of temporary support measures.”

“This implies an improvement in the primary balance of 2.5pp, to a surplus of 0.9% in 2024 (and balanced position in 2023),” the finance and insurance company added.

Fitch pointed out further positive economic indicators. “In 2022 Greece benefited from a very strong snowball effect given decades-high nominal growth and only a very modest increase in average interest rate costs, leading to an estimated record narrowing of 24.5pp in the general government debt/GDP ratio to 170%”.

Nevertheless, the forecast for Greece’s debt ratio remains high. In 2024, the debt ratio is projected to be 160.6%, which is more than three times Fitch’s “BB” median. However, the firm notes that “mitigating factors such as low-debt servicing costs, very long maturities (close to 20 years) and substantial liquid cash buffers (around 15% of GDP) reduce public finance risks.”

Banking sector

Reduced risks in the banking sector were one of the other primary factors which contributed to the revised “BB+” rating.

According to Fitch, “There continues to be important progress in reducing non-performing loans (NPL), with the domestic NPL ratio falling to 9.7% in 3Q22, under 10% for the first time since 2009, driven by securitization transactions under the Hellenic Asset Protection Scheme (HAPS) and broad-based economic recovery.”

Fitch also expects “further improvement in the sector’s asset position supported by contained new inflows, and as the banks complete pending inorganic actions.”

“Demand for household credit remains weak, but overall credit to the private sector accelerated in 2H22 (only slightly below inflation) driven by corporates,” Fitch noted. “Reduced macro risks, resilience in the labor market, government support measures and continued increase in real-estate prices should moderate pressure on borrowers.”

Seven People Killed in Jerusalem Synagogue Shooting

Seven people have lost their lives due to a shooting that took place outside a synagogue in Jerusalem
Seven people have lost their lives due to a shooting that took place outside a synagogue in Jerusalem. Credit: GB News / Twitter

Seven Israeli people were killed in a shooting at a Synagogue in Jerusalem on Friday night. Local police have described the incident as a terrorist attack.

The shooting occurred at a synagogue in the Neve Yaakov neighborhood of East Jerusalem. According to Israeli police, the gunman arrived by car at around 20:15 local time and opened fire at people around the synagogue.

The gunman then left the scene but was intercepted by police. He then reportedly shot at the police who returned fire. He was killed in the ensuing gunfight.

Shooting incident at Jerusalem synagogue

According to Israeli media sources, the gunman was a local resident of East Jerusalem. He reportedly waited in his car near the synagogue until Shabbat prayers concluded and then exited the vehicle and began firing at people as they left the building.

Magen David Adom ambulance service has said that their medics had found that seven people were killed at the scene. Others were injured.

The unidentified gunman fled from the scene of the shooting towards the Palestinian neighborhood of Beit Hanina. He was however intercepted and “neutralized”, according to the police.

The shooter’s motive and identity remain unknown, although Palestinian media sources have claimed that he was a Palestinian from the Shuafat neighborhood of East Jerusalem.

Tensions remain high between the Israeli and Palestinian populations living in Jerusalem and elsewhere in the country. Incidents of violence are not uncommon.

2022 marked one of the most violent years in recent history for Israelis and Palestinians. “The violent trends that dominated the last months of 2022 continue to take a devastating human toll. The violence must stop,” said Tor Wennesland, Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, during a United Nations Security Council briefing.

Reactions

Officials representing the United States have decried that attack. Secretary of State Anthony Blinken is scheduled to visit Israel, as well as the West Bank, and Egypt just days after the Jerusalem shooting.

“This is absolutely horrific,” State Department spokesman Vedant Patel said, “We condemn this apparent terrorist attack in the strongest terms. Our commitment to Israel’s security remains ironclad, and we are in direct touch with our Israeli partners.”

We stand with the Israeli people in solidarity,” he added.

Greece’s ambassador to Israel, Kyriakos Loukakis, also condemned the attack. “Appalled by tonight’s hideous terrorist attack at Neve Yaakov synagogue on Int’l Holocaust Remembrance Day,” he said on Twitter, “Our thoughts to the victims & condolences to their families. We deplore loss of human lives and condemn all acts of terrorism.”