Jenny Mosseri

"Never forget the atrocities we went through and our only crime was being Jewish. Remember our loved ones and protect the future generations."

Name at birth
Jenny Florentin Elie
Date of birth
Where were you born?
Where did you grow up?
Salonica, Greece, until 1943 when we were deported
Name of father, occupation
Samuel Elie, Jeweler
Maiden name of mother, occupation
Henriette Elie, Teacher
Immediate family (names, birth order)
Parents, grandmother and myself
How many in entire extended family?
Who survived the Holocaust?
My two aunts, my uncle and cousins who were in hiding in Athens, Greece.
The Germans invaded Salonica in April, 1941.  The Jewish population of Salonica was 50,000 people.  The Germans imposed restrictions in the Jewish community immediately upon invasion.  In the beginning of 1943, Jews were required to wear the Star of David and at that time they started talking about moving the Jews to Poland so they would work there.  The Chief Rabbi in Salonica convinced the people that life would be better there.  The winter of 1942 was terrible in Salonica.  There was hunger, and people were dying in the streets.
In that part of the world, we had no idea what was happening in Eastern Europe.  Although we were not supposed to have a radio, we were able to listen to the news, but never heard about what was happening to the Jews of Europe.
In April, 1943, the first convoy left Salonica to Auschwitz.  By August, 1943, Salonica was Jew free, except for the 380 Jews who had Spanish Citizenship.  My father, mother and I were among this group.  We were to be deported to Spain.  Franco had given permission for his subjects to return to Spain.  We had our passports ready and were planning the voyage.  After giving his permission for our return, Franco changed his mind and told the Germans to do with us as they wished.  Therefore our destiny would end up the same as the rest of the Jews in Salonica; we would be deported to Auschwitz.  One German official in Athens decided that it would not be wise to send this group to the extermination camp yet, because Franco may change his mind again, therefore it was decided to deport us to Bergen-Belsen.
In August, 1943, the last remaining Jews in Salonica were summoned to the synagogue and told that in the evening we were to come to the ghetto from where the trains would leave for the camps.  The men were immediately taken to the ghetto, and the families were to retrieve their belongings and meet them there.  My father was able to come home to help us get organized for the ordeal.   By night, we were in the ghetto with our few belongings.
Upon arrival, the Germans took all of our suitcases and scattered our belongings.  We stayed at the Baron Hirsh Ghetto for a couple of days then were transported in cattle cars to Bergen-Belsen.  Fortunately for us, Franco did change his mind and decided that he wanted our group to go to Spain.  I learned this information later when I read a book by Lifischits called “Franco Spain and the Jews”.  
We arrived in Bergen-Belsen on August 13, 1943, and departed Bergen-Belsen on February 7, 1944.  We were hungry and cold all the time, but this time we knew what was happening to us.  When we were taken to the showers, we wondered if we would come out alive.
We were the few lucky Jews who had citizenship from a neutral country; therefore the Germans did not exterminate us.  They used us for their own political purposes.  After returning to Spain, we then went on to Morocco, and then on to Palestine.  We arrived there in December, 1944.
Name of Ghetto(s)
Name of Concentration / Labor Camp(s)
Where did you go after being liberated?
Spain, then Palestine
Occupation after the war
Child, Student
When and where were you married?
Tel-Aviv, Israel
Henia Kamil, administrator Elie Mosseri, editor Gill Mosseri, engineer
Six and one great-grandchild
What do you think helped you to survive?
The fact that we had Spanish citizenship in Greece. 90 percent of the Jewish Greek population was exterminated during the war.
What message would you like to leave for future generations?
Never forget the atrocities we went through and our only crime was being Jewish. Remember our loved ones and protect the future generations.
Charles Silow
Interview date:

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