NEWS

An unrepentant collaborator

As a young girl in Thessaloniki in 1944, she couldn’t understand how her grandfather, gynecologist Moisis Matalon, suddenly lost the respect of the townspeople. The family became hostages in the Hirsch ghetto. Luckily her grandfather found a way out. Her father, mother, sister, grandfather and his other daughters caught a caique to Piraeus. From there they scattered to other houses in Athens and Argos. «We stayed in Athens, where we had the good fortune to be taken under the wing of Father Chrysostomos, a Greek Catholic priest. He was in the resistance and he helped us with his network. Although we were Jews, we girls went to the Greek-French school. Life went on, in hiding and in great fear, but it went on. Until one day my father didn’t come home. He had bumped into a merchant from Thessaloniki who was a collaborator of the Germans, an avowed Nazi, who had moved to Athens, to Neo Iraklion. He denounced my father at once. They tortured him to see who had hidden him; the next day they came for my mother. She came back alone from Auschwitz.» Her father tried to make sure the informer’s name would not be forgotten. Apart from what he told his wife, he wrote the name down on a scrap from a paper bag. Just the two words, name and surname. Mioni saw that piece of paper and saw the name again years later. «When I saw the name of that particular family on the list of guests to my wedding, I was astounded. I asked my husband about it. The informer’s son was an acquaintance of his. He couldn’t believe what that man had done to me. I later learned that the wife of another Jew was one of his victims. I discovered that he had left Greece with the Germans and lived abroad until the amnesty proclaimed by Plastiras’s government, then came back. He had become a factory manager in Neo Iraklion.» Is it hard to live in a city in which such things took place? «At one point I couldn’t stand it, and telephoned him. He realized who I was; he knew from the cancellation of the wedding invitation. ‘How can you live and laugh after what you did?’ I asked him. He cursed me, vulgarly, and said vile things about soap and who knows what else.»