History Jews in Thessaloniki

2021.03.26 20:03

이병붕*63 Views:68

A beautiful story and irony of fate:
More than 80 years ago, in Greece, 60 thousand Jews lived peacefully in Thessaloniki. It was a vibrant and valuable community, with most of these Jews working in the port. So much so that the port of Thessaloniki was even closed on Saturday, Shabbat.


2021-03-26_214239.jpg  Everyone hung out and liked each other. But on September 2, 1939, on the eve of the outbreak of World War II, it was in this glorious community that Nazi terror would suddenly erupt. On April 6, 1941, Hitler invaded Greece to secure his southern front before launching the famous Operation Barbarossa and his great offensive against Russia. Of the 60,000 Jews in Thessaloniki, around 50,000 will be exterminated in the Birkenau concentration camp in sad record time. The massacre of the Jews of Greece was brief but intense.

 But among the survivors was a family known as Bourla. And after the war, in 1961, a son was born into this miraculous family in the fields. His parents named him Israel, Abraham. He grew up and studied veterinary medicine in Greece. A brilliant student, Abraham will earn his Ph.D. in reproductive biotechnology at the veterinary school of Aristotle University in Thessaloniki. 


At 34 he decided to move to the United States. He changes his first name from Abraham to Albert and meets a Jewish woman named Miriam and later his wife. Together they will have 2 children. In the United States, Albert entered the medical industry. He progressed very quickly and joined a pharmaceutical company where he became "CEO". Little Abraham (Albert) rose through the ranks and got his appointment as CEO of this company in 2019.


 Throughout the year Albert decides to direct all the efforts of the company to try to find a vaccine against a new virus that has just attacked the world. He makes great financial and technological efforts to achieve his goal. A year later, his work paid by him to the WHO (World Health Organization) validates the authorization of his company to produce the long-awaited vaccine. His vaccine will be distributed in several countries including Germany, which has thousands of deaths from the pandemic. Ironically, this vaccine that will save the lives of millions of people around the world, including many Germans, was directed and promoted by a small Jew from Thessaloniki, the son of Holocaust survivors of whom most of his people were exterminated by Nazi Germany. And that is why Israel became the 1st country to receive the vaccine. In memory of his grandparents and his parents who gave birth to Israel-Abraham Bourla, known today as Albert Bourla: CEO of Pfizer !!!!! 


BB Lee

P.S. One of my colleagues sent me this news. So I attach two memorabilia/photos I took while I visited Salonika to share.

Such a shocking and moving story along with this tragedy.

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