Sephardim, or Sephardic Jews, are descendants from the Iberian Jews expelled from Spain and Portugal in the late 15th century. They speak a language known as Judeo-espagnol, or Ladino, which is derived from Old Spanish and other Romance languages with heavy influences of Hebrew and Aramaic, as well as the languages of the Ottoman Empire. For many centuries they flourished in communities throughout the Mediterranean, especially in present-day Turkey, Greece, and the Balkan countries. During the Nazi occupation of the Yugoslavia and Greece, most of the Sephardim were deported to concentration camps, where the majority of those perished.
The following bibliography was compiled to guide readers to materials about the experiences of Sephardic Jews during the Holocaust that are in the Library’s collection. It is not meant to be exhaustive. Annotations are provided to help the user determine the item’s focus, and call numbers for the Museum’s Library are given in parentheses following each citation. Those unable to visit might be able to find these works in a nearby public library or acquire them through interlibrary loan. Follow the “Find in a library near you” link in each citation and enter your zip code at the Open WorldCat search screen. The results of that search indicate all libraries in your area that own that particular title. Talk to your local librarian for assistance.
Abramson, Henry. “A Double Occlusion: Sephardim and the Holocaust.” In Sephardic and Mizrahi Jewry: From the Golden Age of Spain to Modern Times, edited by Zion Zohar, 285-299. New York: New York University Press, 2005. (DS 135 .S7 S4525 2005) [Find in a library near you]
Argues that the Holocaust is incorrectly perceived as an event that affected only Ashkenazi Jews in Eastern Europe, and not Sephardic Jews, and that this popular misconception has resulted in a dearth of analysis on the experiences of North African and Balkan Jews, especially the Sephardim, from the scholarly record. Includes research notes for further study by country, and endnotes.
Ayoun, Richard. “The Memory of the Sephardic Jews,” in Pro Memoria: Information Bulletin 19 (June 2003): 55-61. (D 805.5 .A96 P76) [Find in a library near you]
Reviews Sephardic history from settlement in Spain, through the expulsions of 1492, and the destruction of Sephardic communities during the Holocaust. Presents a country-by-country account of the Sephardic Jews living in Austria, Denmark, France, Greece, Italy, the Netherlands, Portugal, and Yugoslavia. Also includes a section on Sephardim today.
Ayoun, Richard. The Judeo-Spanish People: Itineraries of a Community = Los djudeo-espanyoles : los kaminos de una komunidad. Paris: Ministère de la Défense, 2003. (DS 135 .S7 A9613 2003) [Find in a library near you]
Documents the history of Sephardic Jews from earliest known history to the present. Includes photographs, color reproductions of artwork and other artifacts, documents, maps, and a bibliography; text is bilingual in English and Judeo-Spanish.
Azses, Hayim. The Shoa in the Sephardic Communities: Dreams, Dilemmas & Decisions of Sephardic Leaders. Jerusalem: Sephardic Educational Center in Jerusalem, 2005. (D 804.3 .S57194 2005) [Find in a library near you]
Presents the country-specific Holocaust history of Sephardim from Bulgaria, France, Greece, Holland, Italy, North Africa, and Yugoslavia. Includes timelines, personal accounts, photographs, maps, endnotes, and classroom activities for teachers and students.
Bedford, Robert. An Introduction to Literature on the Holocaust in Greece. Brooklyn: Sephardic Historical Committee, 1994. (Z 2302 .N27 B43 1994) [Find in a library near you]
Details English-language publications on Sephardim during the Holocaust. Includes lists of Sephardic organizations, journals, publishers, and newsletters. Also includes Holocaust vocabulary, chronology, maps, and statistics about the destruction of Greek Jews.
Ben, Joseph. “Jewish Leadership in Greece during the Holocaust” In Patterns of Jewish Leadership in Nazi Europe, 1933-1945: Proceedings of the Third Yad Vashem International Historical Conference, Jerusalem, April 4-7, 1977, edited by Israel Gutman and Cynthia Haft, 335-352. Jerusalem: Yad Vashem, 1979. (D 804.3 .Y33513 1977) [Find in a library near you]
Discusses the actions of Jewish community leaders in Salonika and Athens in light of the deportations and various occupation policies for the Nazi or Italian zones. Includes endnotes.
Benbassa, Esther and Aron Rodrigue. Sephardi Jewry: A History of the Judeo-Spanish Community, 14th-20th Centuries. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2000. (DS 135 .B3 B44 2000) [Find in a library near you]
Describes the cultural and social development of Sephardic communities during westernization and political movements leading up to the Holocaust. Includes endnotes, a bibliography, and an index.
Birri-Tomovska, Kristina. Jews of Yugoslavia, 1918-1941: A History of Macedonian Sephards. Bern: New York : Peter Lang, 2012. (DS 135 .Y8 B54 2012) [Find in a library near you]
Discusses Sephardic Jewry during the Iberian and Ottoman eras prior to the establishment of Yugoslavia. Compares assimilation tactics of Ashkenazim and Sephardim during the interwar era, with special attention to the development of a Yugoslav Jewish identity, and the occupation of Macedonia and deportations during the Holocaust. Includes footnotes, review of sources, and a bibliography.
Gaon, Solomon, and M. Mitchell Serels, editors. Del Fuego: Sephardim and the Holocaust. New York: Sepher-Hermon Press, 1995. (D 804.3 .D46 1995) [Find in a library near you]
Contains 21 essays delivered on various aspects of Sephardic communities during the Holocaust including the destruction of European Sephardim, reactions of the Sephardic communities in the United States, and the role of Middle East and North African Jews. Includes several personal testimonies and chapter notes. Each essay was originally presented as a speech via the Jacob E. Safra Institute of Sephardic Studies of Yeshiva University.
Lévy, Isaac Jack. And the World Stood Silent: Sephardic Poetry of the Holocaust. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1989. (PC 4813.7 .A75 1989) [Find in a library near you]
Traces the history of Sephardic Jews before and during the Holocaust as shown through Sephardic poetry created during the Holocaust. Poems provided in the original Judeo-Spanish and in English. A bibliography and an index are included.
Molho, Michael, Alfred A. Zara, and Robert Bedford. Traditions & Customs of the Sephardic Jews of Salonica. New York: Foundation for the Advancement of Sephardic Studies and Culture, 2006. (DS 135 .G72 T513 2006) [Find in a library near you]
Surveys community life of Salonika Jews, including weddings, education, births, family life, death, festivals, superstitions, and medical practices. Contains photographs, songs, a glossary, proverbs, a bibliography, and an index.
Plaut, Joshua Eli. Greek Jewry in the Twentieth Century, 1913-1983: Patterns of Jewish Survival in the Greek Provinces Before and After the Holocaust. Madison: Fairleigh Dickinson University Press, 1996. (DS 135 .G7 P56 1996) [Find in a library near you]
Analyzes strategies of the Jewish community to respond to economic, political and social changes in Greece, including regime change, Nazi occupation, deportation, and the rebirth of communal life. Includes photographs, deportation testimonies, endnotes and an index.
Biographies and Personal Testimonies
Bedford, Robert. Portraits of Our Past: The Sephardic Communities of Greece and the Holocaust. Brooklyn: Foundation for the Advancement of Sephardic Studies and Culture, 1998. (DS 135 .G7 B39 1998) [Find in a library near you]
Presents photographs and brief historical accounts from the traveling exhibition of the same name. Further information and details on the exhibition can be found online.
Fromer, Rebecca. The Holocaust Odyssey of Daniel Bennahmias, Sonderkommando. Tuscaloosa, Ala: University of Alabama Press, 1993. (D 805 .P7 B424 1993) [Find in a library near you]
Presents the personal accounts of Bennahmias who was one of the few Auschwitz Sonderkommando to survive the revolt. Includes his account of deportation as a Greek Jew with Italian citizenship, his forced labor at the gassing operations, participation in the uprising in Birkenau, and his eventual liberation and return to Greece.
Children of the Survivors of the Holocaust in Greece. Remember: The Holocaust in Greece. New York: Children of the Survivors of the Holocaust in Greece and the Sephardic Jewish Center of Forest Hills, 1995. (DS 135 .G7 R45 1995) [Find in a library near you]
Compiles accounts of Jewish survivors and their life stories from Greece before, during and after the Holocaust. Includes a brief history of Greek Jews during the Holocaust, a map, and photographs of victims and their families.
Courtine-Denamy, Sylvie. The House of Jacob. Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2003. (DS 135 .F89 C6813 2003) [Find in a library near you]
Portrays the late 19th- and early 20th-century history of the author’s family and documents the experiences of Sephardic Jews across Europe in the years before the Holocaust. Includes a bibliography, glossary, references, and an index.
Eck, Nathan. “New Light on the Charges Against the Last Chief Rabbi of Salonica.” Yad Vashem Bulletin 17 (December 1965): 9-15. (D 810 .J4 J263) [Find in a library near you]
Discusses the life and actions of Dr. Zvi Koretz, last chief rabbi of Salonica, in response to the accusations against him as a Nazi collaborator portrayed in the books of Michael Molho and Joseph Nehama, “In Memoriam: hommage aux victimes juives des Nazis en Grèce.”
Handeli, Ya'acov. A Greek Jew from Salonica Remembers. New York: Herzl Press, 1993. (DS 135 .G73 C4313 1993) [Find in a library near you]
Presents the author’s memoirs of childhood in Salonica before the war, the German occupation, and his deportation to Auschwitz and eventual liberation.
Kerem, Yitzchak. “Sephardic and Oriental Oral Testimonies: Their Importance for Holocaust Commemoration and Memory.” In Remembering for the Future—The Holocaust in an Age of Genocide: Volume 3: Memory, edited by John K. Roth and Elizabeth Maxwell, 142-149. New York: Palgrave MacMillan, 2001. (D 804.18 .R46 2001) [Find in a library near you]
Discusses diverse collections of Sephardim testimonies which demonstrate the diversity of persecution experiences across Europe, including Auschwitz, the Warsaw Ghetto, and the Birkenau revolt. Includes endnotes.
Kolonomos, Žamila, Isaac Nehama, Brian Berman, and Robert Bedford. Monastir Without Jews: Recollections of a Jewish Partisan in Macedonia. New York: Foundation for the Advancement of Sephardic Studies and Culture, 2008. (DS 135 .M23 K649513 2008) [Find in a library near you]
Presents the personal account of Jamila Kolonomos, a Jewish partisan in Yugoslavia, in order to explain the story of the Sephardic Jews of Monastir as well as local partisan activities during the Holocaust. Also highlights the unique Sephardic history of the Jews of Monastir. Includes maps, photographs, an index, appendixes of personal documents, and chapter notes.
Kounio-Amarilio, Erika. From Thessaloniki to Auschwitz and Back: Memories of a Survivor from Thessaloniki. London: Vallentine Mitchell, 2000. (DS 135 .G73 K68413 2000) [Find in a library near you]
The author’s memoirs of her life before the Holocaust, over two years in Auschwitz, her escape from a death march and eventual return to Greece. Includes family photographs and documents.
Levy, Rebecca Amato. I Remember Rhodes. New York: Sepher-Hermon Press for Sephardic House at Congregation Shearith Israel, 1987. (DS 135 .G72 R48613 1987) [Find in a library near you]
Memoir of the author’s 27 years living on Rhodes, including the history, physical descriptions of Rhodes, as well as Sephardic customs and traditions. Written in both English and Ladino, it contains photographs, proverbs, songs, and a bibliography.
Menasche, Albert. Birkenau (Auschwitz II): Memories of an Eyewitness: How 72,000 Greek Jews Perished. New York: I. Saltiel, 1947. (DS 135 .G72 T497 1947) [Find in a library near you]
The author’s account written immediately after liberation, tells of his prewar life as a doctor and his deportation to Auschwitz. Includes descriptions of working alongside his fellow Sonderkommando in the gassing operations and the arrivals of Jews from Lodz and Theresienstadt ghettos. Includes author’s illustrations of the camps and the crematoria.
Rozen, Minna. "Jews and Greeks Remember Their Past: The Political Career of Tzevi Koretz (1933-43)." Jewish Social Studies 12, no.1 (2005): 111-166. (DS 101 .J555 2005) [Find in a library near you] [Access this article through JSTOR]
Reassesses the actions of the last chief rabbi of Salonika, Tzevi Koretz, in light of archival documents and the passage of time, to discuss his role in the deportations of the Jewish community of Salonika and the postwar perceptions of his leadership and shortcomings by survivors in Israel and Greece.
Sevillias, Errikos. Athens, Auschwitz. Athens, Greece: Lycabettus Press, 1983. (DS 135 .G73 S48 1983) [Find in a library near you]
Presents the author’s account of life in Athens before the war and later his imprisonment and liberation from Auschwitz. Includes endnotes, photographs, and a bibliography.
Explore our comprehensive entries on the events, people, and places of the Holocaust.
Destruction of Sephardic Communities
Amipaz-Silber, Gitta. Sephardi Jews in Occupied France: Under the Tyrant's Heel, 1940-1944. Jerusalem: Rubin Mass, 1995. (DS 135 .F83 A459 1995) [Find in a library near you]
Analyzes the experiences of Sephardim in France during the Holocaust with special attention to Jewish resistance, the plight of children, Italian Jews, and life after the Holocaust. Includes documents, photographs, maps, and chapter notes.
Angel, Marc. The Jews of Rhodes: The History of a Sephardic Community. New York: Sepher-Hermon Press, 1978. (DS 135 .G72 R482 1998) [Find in a library near you]
Traces the history of Jews in Rhodes from the 15th century to 1945. Analyzes economic and social life, women, relations with non-Jews, literature, and the Holocaust. Includes photographs, chapter notes, a bibliography, and an index.
Bowman, Steven B. The Agony of Greek Jews, 1940-1945. Stanford, California: Stanford University Press, 2009. (DS 135 .G7 B69 2009) [Find in a library near you]
Discusses the history of Greek Jews from pre-World War I to the end of the Holocaust with attention to the deportations, life in the camps, medical experiments, and survivors. Includes an appendix of victim statistics per city, chapter notes, and an index.
Cohen, Mark. Last Century of a Sephardic Community: The Jews of Monastir, 1839-1943. New York: Foundation for the Advancement of Sephardic Studies and Culture, 2003. (DS 135 .M23 C64 2003) [Find in a library near you]
Documents the history of the Sephardic community in Monastir, highlighting roughly 100 years of culture, society, and history. Includes maps, photographs, a deportation list, Sephardic songs, poems, and other local writings with English-language translations, notes, bibliography, and an index.
Menexiadēs, Alexēs. To Holokautōma tōn Hellēnōn Evraiōn: mnēmeia kai mnēmes = The Holocaust of the Greek Jewry: Monuments and Memories. Athens: Kentriko Israēlitiko Symvoulio Hellados, 2006. (DS 135 .G7 H76 2006) [Find in a library near you]
Provides an account of the destruction of 27 Greek Jewish communities. Each entry includes photographs of memorials and monuments to the community, prewar history and an account of the destruction. Also includes statistics on Jewish victims, and bilingual English and Greek texts.
Rodrigue, Aron. Sephardim and the Holocaust. Washington, D.C.: United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, Center for Advanced Holocaust Studies, 2005. (DS 135 .B3 R64 2005) [Find in a library near you] [Access this article through JSTOR]
Discusses the lack of scholarship on experiences of Sephardim during the Holocaust, and seeks to provide an overview of Sephardic history within a European context. Originally delivered as the 2004 Ina Levine Lecture.
Roth, Cecil. “The Last Days of Jewish Salonica: What Happened to a 450-Year-Old Civilization.” Commentary 10 (July 1950): 49-55. (Library Microform LM0053). [Find in a library near you] [Access this article through JSTOR]
A discussion of the destruction of Salonika Jewry based largely on accounts received by the author when visiting immediately after the Holocaust.
Rozen, Minna. The Last Ottoman Century and Beyond: The Jews in Turkey and the Balkans, 1808-1945. Tel-Aviv: Goldstein-Goren Diaspora Research Institute, Tel-Aviv University, 2002. (DS 135 .T8 L33 2002) [Find in a library near you]
Traces the history of Jews living in the Ottoman Empire during its dissolution and their fate in the interwar and Holocaust periods. Includes photographs, footnotes, a bibliography, and an index.
Asser Pardo, Rozina. 548 Days with Another Name: Salonika 1943—A Child's Diary, an Adult's Memories of War. New York: American Friends of the Jewish Museum of Greece and Bloch Publishing, 2005. (DS 135 .G73 A8813 2005) [Find in a library near you]
Presents the author’s diary that she wrote as a young girl who went in hiding after escaping from the Salonica ghetto. Includes photographs, the original diary pages in Greek, and English-language translations of her entries as well as contextual explanations by the author.
Bowman, Steven B., and Isaac Benmayor. The Holocaust in Salonika: Eyewitness Accounts. New York: Sephardic House, 2002. (DS 135 .G7 H65 2002) [Find in a library near you]
Analyzes three accounts written during and immediately after the Holocaust by leaders of the Salonika Jewish community. Reproduces the 1941 document titled ‘Reorganization of the Jewish Community of Thessaloniki.’ Includes a list of additional sources.
Kounio, Heinz Salvatōr. A Liter of Soup and Sixty Grams of Bread: The Diary of Prisoner Number 109565. New York: Sephardic House, 2003. (DS 135 .G73 K687513 2003) [Find in a library near you]
Presents an English-language translation of Kuonio’s diary which he kept from the time of his deportation, March 1943, until liberation, through the camps of Auschwitz, Mauthausen, Melk, and Ebensee. Includes copies of documents with translations, photographs, chronologies, statistics, a glossary and endnotes.
Naar, Devin E. Me dika toys logia: maties stēn Ebraïkē sōē stē Thessalonikē prin apo to Olokaytōma = With Their own Words: Glimpses of Jewish Life in Thessaloniki before the Holocaust. Thessaloniki: Jewish Community of Thessaloniki, 2006. (DS 135 .G72 T47 2006) [Find in a library near you]
Presents English-language translations and original Greek-language documents from the archives of the Jewish community of Thessaloniki to demonstrate Jewish communal life, education, and civic engagement activities before the Holocaust.
Rochlitz, Joseph and Menachem Shelach. “Excerpts from the Salonika Diary of Lucillo Merci (February-August 1943).” Yad Vashem Studies 18 (1987): 293-323. (DS 135 .E83 Y3 v. 18) [Find in a library near you]
Presents entries from the personal diary of Captain Merci, an official at the Italian consulate in Salonica, who assisted with rescue activities on behalf of local Jews.
Museum Web Resources
Holocaust Encyclopedia: Sephardi Jews During the Holocaust
Online article describing the experiences of Sephardim during the Holocaust and providing links to other articles, photographs, personal histories, and maps.
The Holocaust in Greece (Special Focus)
Historical information on the Nazi occupation of Greece and 8 different communities, including a bibliography for further reading.
Remnants and Recollections: The Experience of Sephardi Jews during the Holocaust (Collections Highlight)
Provides primary source materials including artifacts, letters, photographs, and recordings to show the diversity of experiences of Sephardic Jews before and during the Holocaust.
Tower of Sephardic Faces—The Jewish Community of Monastir, Macedonia
Includes information on the Jews of Monastir (Bitola) and copies of portraits submitted in 1942 to the authorities for each person in the ghetto.
Ask at the reference desk to access the following subject files containing newspaper and periodical articles:
- “Sephiah, Haim-Vidal”
To search library catalogs or other electronic search tools for materials on Sephardim during the Holocaust or related topics, use the following Library of Congress subject headings to retrieve the most relevant citations:
- Sephardim – History – 20th century