“I am at Your Mercy. Arrest Me, Not Them. If You Still Insist on Arresting the Jews, Then Know that I will March to the Concentration Camp Along with Them”

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On 9 September 1943, German troops took over the Greece island of Zakinthos in the Ionian Sea. The island was the home of 275 Jews, among other people, and the Germans demanded the names of those Jews. Lucas Karreri, the mayor of the island, declined to cooperate with the Germans’ order to identify the island’s Jews, and he and Bishop Chrysostomos, the metropolitan bishop of the island, went to the German commander’s office. Bishop Chrysostomos said, “The Jews of Zakinthos are Greeks, peaceloving and industrious. They are totally harmless. I beg of you to rescind this criminal order.” The German commander repeated his demand for the names of the island’s Jews, so Bishop Chrysostomos wrote his own name on a piece of paper and gave it to the German commander, saying, “Here is a list of the Jews of Zakinthos. [Bishop Chrysostomos was an Eastern Orthodox bishop.] I am at your mercy. Arrest me, not them. If you still insist on arresting the Jews, then know that I will march to the concentration camp along with them.” The German commander did not arrest either of the two men, saying instead that he would report what had happened and wait for further orders. That evening, all 275 Jews were evacuated into the hills of the island, and islanders hid and fed them until the Germans left the island on 12 September 1944. None of the island’s 275 Jews was killed by Germans.

For Further Information: Paldiel, Mordecai. The Path of the Righteous: Gentile Rescuers of Jews During the Holocaust. Hoboken, New Jersey: KTAC Publishing House, Inc., 1993. In association with The Jewish Foundation for Christian Rescuers. Pp. 351-352.

For Further Information: Metropolitan Chrysomos and Mayor Lucas Carrer. Yad Vashem. The Righteous Among the Nations. Accessed 10 August 2013.

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