NEWS

Solidarity from a neighbor

The letter arrived at the office of Rafael Varsano like any other letter, without delay. Varsano had written an article that appeared in Kathimerini on October 8 in relation to the trial involving Plevris’s book. Despite his advanced years, he was determined to come to Athens, to the appeals court hearing. He wanted to say, «I’m here, you’re writing about me,» to say that he had survived Auschwitz by chance. The following day he received the following letter. Dear Mr Varsano, Although we have been neighbors since 1989 (separated only by a wall), I don’t know you personally. I have merely exchanged polite greetings with your sons. For that we are both to blame, as well as our impersonal, deserted industrial district. You article in yesterday’s Kathimerini brought me close to you, not because it reminded me of this neighborhood, but mainly because the Jews of Thessaloniki and the history of the Jews, culminating in the Shoah, have had a striking impact on my life. I am the offspring of Pontian Greeks who underwent their own genocide and who passed on to me the deep feeling of anger and pain that one has when undergoing unjust mass persecution. Our sufferings do not of course match yours in terms of either intensity or time, but they enable me to commiserate with you and stand by you when ridiculous deniers of history try to diminish humanity’s shame at what was done to you. I came into the world on the day that Thessaloniki was being emptied of my Jewish compatriots and that gives me a permanent sense of emptiness and guilt. I am writing this letter to offer you my sympathy and friendship and I would be delighted to offer you a coffee soon. [Signature]