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Talking Until Nightfall: Remembering Jewish Salonica 1941-44

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'Whoever listens to a witness, becomes a witness.' – Elie Wiesel When Nazi occupiers arrived in Greece in 1941, it was the beginning of a horror that would reverberate through generations. In the city of Salonica (Thessaloniki), almost 50,000 Jews were sent to Nazi concentration camps during the war, and only 2,000 returned. A Jewish doctor named Isaac Matarasso and his son 'Whoever listens to a witness, becomes a witness.' – Elie Wiesel When Nazi occupiers arrived in Greece in 1941, it was the beginning of a horror that would reverberate through generations. In the city of Salonica (Thessaloniki), almost 50,000 Jews were sent to Nazi concentration camps during the war, and only 2,000 returned. A Jewish doctor named Isaac Matarasso and his son escaped imprisonment and torture at the hands of the Nazis and joined the resistance. After the city's liberation they returned to rebuild Salonica and, along with the other survivors, to grapple with the near-total destruction of their community. Isaac was a witness to his Jewish community's devastation, and the tangled aftermath of grief, guilt and grace as survivors returned home. Talking Until Nightfall presents his account of the tragedy and his moving tribute to the living and the dead. His story is woven together with his son Robert's memories of being a frightened teenager spared by a twist of fate, with an afterword by his grandson Francois that looks back on the survivors' stories and his family's place in history. This slim, wrenching account of loss, survival, and the strength of the human spirit will captivate readers and ensure the Jews of Salonica are never forgotten.


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'Whoever listens to a witness, becomes a witness.' – Elie Wiesel When Nazi occupiers arrived in Greece in 1941, it was the beginning of a horror that would reverberate through generations. In the city of Salonica (Thessaloniki), almost 50,000 Jews were sent to Nazi concentration camps during the war, and only 2,000 returned. A Jewish doctor named Isaac Matarasso and his son 'Whoever listens to a witness, becomes a witness.' – Elie Wiesel When Nazi occupiers arrived in Greece in 1941, it was the beginning of a horror that would reverberate through generations. In the city of Salonica (Thessaloniki), almost 50,000 Jews were sent to Nazi concentration camps during the war, and only 2,000 returned. A Jewish doctor named Isaac Matarasso and his son escaped imprisonment and torture at the hands of the Nazis and joined the resistance. After the city's liberation they returned to rebuild Salonica and, along with the other survivors, to grapple with the near-total destruction of their community. Isaac was a witness to his Jewish community's devastation, and the tangled aftermath of grief, guilt and grace as survivors returned home. Talking Until Nightfall presents his account of the tragedy and his moving tribute to the living and the dead. His story is woven together with his son Robert's memories of being a frightened teenager spared by a twist of fate, with an afterword by his grandson Francois that looks back on the survivors' stories and his family's place in history. This slim, wrenching account of loss, survival, and the strength of the human spirit will captivate readers and ensure the Jews of Salonica are never forgotten.

50 review for Talking Until Nightfall: Remembering Jewish Salonica 1941-44

  1. 4 out of 5

    Zandt McCue

    It is not something I talk about very often but I am of Jewish descent. I grew up with my Grandparents but they were, unlike the rest of the family, nonpracticing. In fact, I mainly learned about Jewish Culture from my employers throughout the years. The story of the Jewish people throughout history is an odd, sorrow-filled tale. Parts of which I've heard many, many times. My specific interest in Jewish history is post-WWII but there is a need to revisit the war to learn why things happened to t It is not something I talk about very often but I am of Jewish descent. I grew up with my Grandparents but they were, unlike the rest of the family, nonpracticing. In fact, I mainly learned about Jewish Culture from my employers throughout the years. The story of the Jewish people throughout history is an odd, sorrow-filled tale. Parts of which I've heard many, many times. My specific interest in Jewish history is post-WWII but there is a need to revisit the war to learn why things happened to them afterward. When I see a book like this, I jump at it. I didn't like this book at all. As the other reviewers have pointed out there are structural issues to the story. The introduction takes up 30% of the book. So instead of Isaac and his son Robert having their stories heard, we also have Isaac's Daughter-in-law (I believe) explaining everything beforehand. What I would have done would have been to write the entire book as the in-law telling the narrative and supplementing it with Isaac and Robert's writings as opposed to keeping them separate. As far as content goes, and maybe I was too caught up in the layout of the book, but I couldn't get past the feeling that I'd already read this story somewhere before. That this specific experience wasn't as unique as I thought it would be. To each their own. I feel terrible about not liking this but what can you do?

  2. 5 out of 5

    Hannah Harvey

    Extremely informative and well written. This book takes you through some deeply emotional events, blending fact and emotion perfectly. I thoroughly enjoyed this read and would encourage everyone to read it. Especially if you have an interest in history.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Cathe Olson

    I appreciate the effort and the opportunity to read about what the Nazi occupation was like for Jews in Greece, but the format of this book made it a very tedious read. The first third is like one long prologue which is all "tell" and no "show" so that it reads like a history textbook. And the "telling" continues as the narrator feels the need to pre-explain every incident instead of just letting the reader experience it.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Courtney Stuart

    This book is marketed as a memoir or as a book on history, and as such its an important manuscript for humanities understanding and remembrance. It is uneven in its written style, all too often the narrator foretells the story that is given by the first-hand witnesses and ruins the impact of what the witness is sharing, making it repetitive and annoying, which is a shame, as the stories held within the covers of this book are significant and at times gut-wrenching. In its very coolness without t This book is marketed as a memoir or as a book on history, and as such its an important manuscript for humanities understanding and remembrance. It is uneven in its written style, all too often the narrator foretells the story that is given by the first-hand witnesses and ruins the impact of what the witness is sharing, making it repetitive and annoying, which is a shame, as the stories held within the covers of this book are significant and at times gut-wrenching. In its very coolness without the hysteria that so often marks a Jewish memoir, the true brutality, cruelty, hideousness of what they endured, what they suffered, what they died from is starkly written down. Stories of what the main witness and his son (Isaac and Robert) saw should be read and noted in history. As said in the book, “There is more than one way to erase a person.” There is truth in the saying that if we do not heed the lessons of the past, we are destined to repeat the mistakes. The Nazis wanted to wipe out the Jewish people from the face of the earth and tried by physically destroying people and the artifacts and buildings of the race. Humanity needs to recall the crimes of the past to place better in our collective memories the existence, the importance of these people. We also need to do so for the nations in which genocide is a current affair in modern minds, such as for the Armenians which was the systematic mass murder and expulsion of 1.5 million ethnic Armenians carried out in Turkey, the Rwanda massacre which was the genocide against the Tutsi, Twa and moderate Hutu peoples, Cambodia’s terror from the Khmer Rouge under the leadership of Pol Pot and Ukraine's "Holodomor" or "Death by Hunger" orchestrated by Stalin to name but a few. Read this newspaper article for a greater understanding of this crime. https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/w... This book is not the easiest to read, being choppy in style, as it is the written reports taken by Isaac Matarasso after the war as a manner to make such horrors part of the modern-day knowledge, and the remembrances of Robert Matarasso in his old age of a time when he was a teenager during the war and the things he experienced and witnessed. It doesn’t flow effortlessly, but if the reader keeps in mind the source material that this is, it becomes easier to absorb. But this is another important document as to the horrors and misery inflected upon a people for no other reason than their religion. Humanity needs to keep this repugnant part of its history current and this book plays its part in this knowledge.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Allison

    I really looked forward to reading what I expected to be a gripping true account of Nazi brutality in Greece during WWII, but unfortunately I got stopped by the dry academic section written by the author’s daughter-in-law. The introduction was also dry but it did lay out the whys and wherefore of how the book came to be written and I assumed it would provide a good foundation for the story itself. Unfortunately, the next part was convoluted with so many names I very soon began to lose interest i I really looked forward to reading what I expected to be a gripping true account of Nazi brutality in Greece during WWII, but unfortunately I got stopped by the dry academic section written by the author’s daughter-in-law. The introduction was also dry but it did lay out the whys and wherefore of how the book came to be written and I assumed it would provide a good foundation for the story itself. Unfortunately, the next part was convoluted with so many names I very soon began to lose interest in. So here is my confession, I never made it to the heart of the book. I’m sure it will provide a great resource for researchers looking for information written in English, but I was not motivated to read any farther.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Jennifer

    'Whoever listens to a witness, becomes a witness' (Elie Wiesel, famous Holocaust survivor). '[A]nti-Semitism is not endemic, like skin colour. Antisemites are formed, not bred.' These two quotes define why this book was written. It serves as a witness to the Holocaust and reminds readers today to never forget. A tribute to the living and the dead, "Talking Until Nightfall" is a compilation of manuscripts and diary entries written by three generations - Isaac, Robert, and Francois Matarasso. The bo 'Whoever listens to a witness, becomes a witness' (Elie Wiesel, famous Holocaust survivor). '[A]nti-Semitism is not endemic, like skin colour. Antisemites are formed, not bred.' These two quotes define why this book was written. It serves as a witness to the Holocaust and reminds readers today to never forget. A tribute to the living and the dead, "Talking Until Nightfall" is a compilation of manuscripts and diary entries written by three generations - Isaac, Robert, and Francois Matarasso. The book reveals the realities of the Nazi occupation of Greece (April 1941 to October 1944) and its effect on Jews living in Salonica (Thessaloniki). Jewish doctor Isaac Matarasso and his young teen son Robert escaped imprisonment and torture and joined the resistance. After the city's liberation, they returned to rebuild Salonica and, along with the other survivors, to grapple with the near-total destruction of their community. Almost 50,000 Salonica Jews were sent to Nazi concentration camps during the war but only 2,000 returned. This slim, wrenching account of loss, survival, and the strength of the human spirit ensures the Jews of Salonica are never forgotten. Anticipating deportation, Isaac reveals how he and fellow Jew Mordoh Pitchon 'continued talking until nightfall about our dead who enjoy eternal peace, and about the living victims soon to be gathered together in the ghetto. Our two souls were as one.' I certainly was moved as I read it. I had also not realized Greece was occupied, and that fact motivated me to finish the book. I would share it, too, with friends who are interested in the Holocaust's impact on individuals and WW2 in Greece. I only gave this book 3 stars because it's confusing to read at times. Francois explains the book's outline at the beginning, but I was still uncertain in parts about who was speaking. Also, some of the dates are also missing in my copy. Otherwise, this book would earn a solid 4 stars.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Missy

    Talking Until Nightfall is the first-hand reporting by Dr. Isaac Matarasso of the WWII treatment of the Jews who were from Salonica, Greece. He documented the stories of Jews returning from concentration camps. He documented what happened to their possessions and how they initially tried to begin their lives again. He numbered the survivors by age, gender, occupation, martial status. He numbered the murdered. He named the guilty. He wrote because he was compelled to bear witness. His original ac Talking Until Nightfall is the first-hand reporting by Dr. Isaac Matarasso of the WWII treatment of the Jews who were from Salonica, Greece. He documented the stories of Jews returning from concentration camps. He documented what happened to their possessions and how they initially tried to begin their lives again. He numbered the survivors by age, gender, occupation, martial status. He numbered the murdered. He named the guilty. He wrote because he was compelled to bear witness. His original account was written in 1946. His daughter-in-law translated this edition into English and wrote a lengthy, poetic introduction. The introduction is rather long, but don't skip it. It paints a picture of the humanity of Dr. Matarasso, and fleshes out his personal experiences of that time and beyond. The chapters following the main section are more disjointed. There are several literary sketches of the time written by Dr. Matarasso, followed by the journal entries of George Matarasso, Dr. Matarasso's son. The narrative explanations between the chapters of George's account are not as helpful and even sound critical of him at times. The final section is written by George Matarasso's son, Francois. His account shows the generational impact of the Holocaust. ‘Never again’ was not true then. It is not true now . The victims and the perpetrators change: the crimes do not." I was provided an ARC if this book through #NetGalley

  8. 4 out of 5

    Pam Walker

    When Nazi occupiers arrived in Greece in 1941, it was the beginning of a horror that would reverberate through generations. In the city of Salonica (Thessaloniki), almost 50,000 Jews were sent to Nazi concentration camps during the war, and only 2,000 returned. A Jewish doctor named Isaac Matarasso and his son escaped imprisonment and torture at the hands of the Nazis and joined the resistance. After the city's liberation they returned to rebuild Salonica and, along with the other survivors, to When Nazi occupiers arrived in Greece in 1941, it was the beginning of a horror that would reverberate through generations. In the city of Salonica (Thessaloniki), almost 50,000 Jews were sent to Nazi concentration camps during the war, and only 2,000 returned. A Jewish doctor named Isaac Matarasso and his son escaped imprisonment and torture at the hands of the Nazis and joined the resistance. After the city's liberation they returned to rebuild Salonica and, along with the other survivors, to grapple with the near-total destruction of their community. Isaac was a witness to his Jewish community's devastation, and the tangled aftermath of grief, guilt and grace as survivors returned home. The author presents his account of the tragedy and his moving tribute to the living and the dead. His story is woven together with his son Robert's memories of being a frightened teenager spared by a twist of fate, with an afterword by his grandson Francois that looks back on the survivors' stories and his family's place in history. This was a fascinating book full of amazing detail by the author. Maybe it was because I was reading an ARC--thank you NetGalley and the publisher--but the format was hard for me to follow at times. Even with that issue, it was an well-written and footnoted with a lot more detail than even the body of the book. This story took place in a part of Europe not often written about in connection with the Holocaust.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Terri

    This remembrance of the systematic destruction of the Jews of Thessalonica, termed Salonica in this volume, is a six-part memoir of Dr. Isaac Matarasso, his and son Robert with commentary by Robert’s daughter Pauline. The first three parts share historical and biographical information as background to the memoirs contained in the final three sections. The first three parts are somewhat tedious and repetitive. Editing these parts to be more concise would have made for a more interesting read. The This remembrance of the systematic destruction of the Jews of Thessalonica, termed Salonica in this volume, is a six-part memoir of Dr. Isaac Matarasso, his and son Robert with commentary by Robert’s daughter Pauline. The first three parts share historical and biographical information as background to the memoirs contained in the final three sections. The first three parts are somewhat tedious and repetitive. Editing these parts to be more concise would have made for a more interesting read. The final three sections are the compelling witness accounts of the Matarossas. They are heartbreaking and honest, neither embellishing nor diminishing the atrocities. Had the first half been equal to the last, this would be a five-star read.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Lucy

    I was really interested to read this, but I ended up being a little bit disappointed. I thought it would be a bit wider ranging for one thing. I also felt like the structure of the book was a little disjointed - there's a long introduction, then a chapter of Isaac Matarasso's writings, and then some writing from his teenage son. I think it may have worked a little better if IM's writings were worked into the narrative. The Matarasso family seemed interesting, but I don't think the reader gets en I was really interested to read this, but I ended up being a little bit disappointed. I thought it would be a bit wider ranging for one thing. I also felt like the structure of the book was a little disjointed - there's a long introduction, then a chapter of Isaac Matarasso's writings, and then some writing from his teenage son. I think it may have worked a little better if IM's writings were worked into the narrative. The Matarasso family seemed interesting, but I don't think the reader gets enough information about them to really feel engaged with what happens to them on a personal level. Thanks to Netgalley and the publishers for the chance to read this.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Sharon Lawler

    I was drawn to this memoir to learn about the Holocaust in Greece, and really wanted to learn from it and relate to the people. Unfortunately, between the voices of Isaac, his son Robert, and Isaac's daughter in law, the story did not flow. At first I thought it was because it was just a weak translation, but in the end I concluded it was the disorganized presentation with too many cooks in the kitchen.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Hailey

  13. 5 out of 5

    Priscilla

  14. 5 out of 5

    Will Robinson

  15. 5 out of 5

    Lucianna Wolfstone

  16. 5 out of 5

    Chandler

  17. 4 out of 5

    Colby Brower

  18. 5 out of 5

    Melissa Cheresnick

  19. 5 out of 5

    Berna

  20. 5 out of 5

    Mark Winwood

  21. 5 out of 5

    Challenge Accepted

  22. 4 out of 5

    Nissa

  23. 5 out of 5

    Lucy Meeker

  24. 4 out of 5

    Courtney

  25. 4 out of 5

    Amanda

  26. 5 out of 5

    Lynn Demsky

  27. 5 out of 5

    Jaimie Rogers

  28. 5 out of 5

    Micielle

  29. 4 out of 5

    Jamie

  30. 5 out of 5

    Susan The Book Dragon Campton

  31. 4 out of 5

    Frederick Rotzien

  32. 5 out of 5

    Shantel

  33. 4 out of 5

    Kim Friant

  34. 5 out of 5

    Deborah Gerhart

  35. 5 out of 5

    Lauren Peterson

  36. 5 out of 5

    Hope

  37. 4 out of 5

    Douglass Abramson

  38. 5 out of 5

    Cody

  39. 5 out of 5

    Scott L. Frost

  40. 5 out of 5

    Jenna

  41. 4 out of 5

    Melissa ahmed

  42. 5 out of 5

    Shelby Howard

  43. 4 out of 5

    Jessica Ross

  44. 5 out of 5

    Jenna

  45. 5 out of 5

    Darlene

  46. 5 out of 5

    Bonnie Cutler

  47. 4 out of 5

    Dayna

  48. 4 out of 5

    Erin

  49. 4 out of 5

    Michele

  50. 4 out of 5

    Judy

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