Thursday, November 24, 2016

Muslim Registry and the Ghosts of Our Past

Muslim Registry and the Ghosts of Our Past

My grandmother was an educated woman, rare for a peasant girl born on the Turkish-occupied island of Rhodes in the final days of the Ottoman Empire. She placed a great value on education and she felt it was important for my siblings and me to know our family history, the history of our church, and the proud history of Greece. I also remember her talking with pride about some land she owned in Rhodes, one piece along the beach and one larger parcel perfect for farming on the side of a mountain overlooking her village. She said that the land was a wedding gift to her from her father’s employer. The employer, whose name is now lost to history, was a wealthy Rhodian Jewish businessman who employed her father as a chauffeur. The employer was kind and highly respected, and when my great-grandfather’s eldest daughter was engaged to my grandfather, the employer offered this very generous gift. That was 1930. By 1944, my grandmother said, he was dead, a victim of the Holocaust and of the unspeakable cruelty the Germans perpetrated across Europe in their perverted quest to wipe out the continent’s Jews.


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