Eda De Botton

Eda de Botton-Siakki and her husband, Alvertos Siakkis, a lawyer, were a young Jewish couple living in Thessaloniki when the Germans occupied the city in 1941. Shortly afterwards, in April 1942, Eda gave birth to the couple’s first child, Reina.

With conditions imposed by the Nazis making life increasingly difficult for the city’s Jewish population, Eda and Alvertos had to act fast to ensure their – and their newborn daughter’s – safety.

Reina, December 1943, in Thessaloniki with the people she was hiding with. Image copyright: Reina Gilberta. ‘A child in the ghetto of Thessaloniki’ Nina Nachmia-Kokkalidou, Athens, 1997
Reina at school in Kalamari, Thessaloniki, 1945. Image copyright: 'A child in the ghetto of Thessaloniki’, 
Nina Nachmia-Kokkalidou, Reina Gilberta, Athens, 1997.

Eda had Spanish citizenship, which gave her a chance of escaping, but only if she was no longer married to Alvertos, so the couple made the heartbreaking decision to divorce, and Eda reverted to her original surname, De Botton. Once divorced, Alvertos fled to the mountains where he joined the resistance movement. By that point, however, time had run out for Eda, and she was confined in the Thessaloniki ghetto despite her desperate efforts to flee.


Portrait of Reina Siacki, 1944 ©ΕΜΕ

For Eda, time had run out, and she was confined in the ghetto despite her desperate efforts to flee

Reina in June 1946 with Sister Joseph (left), 
who looked after her at the convent during the war. JMG copyright.


To ensure her baby had the best chance of survival, the only option Eda had was to give her to a family friend, who in turn handed her over to a Catholic convent, where she could be looked after safely by nuns. In 1944, Eda was deported to Bergen-Belsen concentration camp.

Amazingly, Eda, Alvertos and Reina all survived. At the end of the war, in 1945, Eda was in a hospital, Alvertos was in Palestine, and Reina was still in the convent.


Eda, Alvertos and Reina, reunited post-war. JMG copyright.
Sister Joseph (centre) with Reina (right), Thessaloniki, 1984. Image copyright: ‘A child in the ghetto of Thessaloniki’, 
Nina Nachmia-Kokkalidou, Reina Gilberta, Athens, 1997

While they had all survived physically, the emotional trauma of the Holocaust never left Eda, and she struggled to cope with the lasting effects of her experiences. She and Reina were reunited in Paris in 1946 after a prolonged search, but having been separated from her mother at a such an early age, Reina had no recollection of Eda and took a long time to accept her.

The rift the Holocaust created between them was never repaired.



Το στρατόπεδο Μπέργκεν-Μπέλσεν στη βόρεια Γερμανία ιδρύθηκε το 1940 ως στρατόπεδο αιχμαλώτων πολέμου. Το 1943 παραδόθηκε στα SS και έγινε «στρατόπεδο κράτησης», κυρίως για Εβραίους κρατούμενους, αν και φυλακίστηκαν επίσης Ρομά, Μάρτυρες του Ιεχωβά, ομοφυλόφιλοι, πολιτικοί κρατούμενοι και εγκληματίες. Λόγω των συμμαχικών δυνάμεων που πλησίαζαν τα στρατόπεδα, ο πληθυσμός του Μπέργκεν-Μπέλσεν αυξήθηκε από περίπου 7.300 σε πάνω από 90.000 μεταξύ Ιουλίου 1944 και Απριλίου 1945. Οι ήδη απάνθρωπες συνθήκες επιδεινώθηκαν, με τις ασθένειες να εξαπλώνονται γρήγορα. Όταν τα βρετανικά στρατεύματα απελευθέρωσαν το Μπέργκεν-Μπέλσεν στις 15 Απριλίου, βρήκαν 53.000 αιχμαλώτους, η πλειονότητα των οποίων ήταν αδυνατισμένοι και υπέφεραν από ασθένειες. Όπως τεκμηριώνεται στη διάσημη εκπομπή του Richard Dimbleby, χιλιάδες νεκρά σώματα κείτονταν άταφα στο έδαφος. Άλλοι 13.000 πέθαναν τις ημέρες μετά την απελευθέρωση. Τελικά, περισσότεροι από 70.000 άνθρωποι δολοφονήθηκαν εκεί.


Τα γκέτο ήταν ειδικά επιλεγμένες περιοχές, όπου οι Εβραίοι αναγκάζονταν να ζήσουν. Με αυτό τον τρόπο διαχωρίζονταν από το κοινωνικό σύνολο και ελέγχονταν. Ο αρχικός στόχος των Ναζί να οδηγήσουν τους Εβραίους έξω από τη Γερμανία έπρεπε να επανεκτιμηθεί μετά την εισβολή στην Πολωνία και το ξέσπασμα του πολέμου. Εκατομμύρια Εβραίων που ζούσαν στις κατεχόμενες από τους Ναζί περιοχές συγκεντρώθηκαν σε γκέτο. Την άνοιξη του 1940 οι Ναζί ίδρυσαν γκέτο στις μεγαλύτερες πόλεις της Πολωνίας. Η ίδρυση των γκέτο ήταν ένα προσωρινό μέτρο για τον έλεγχο και τον διαχωρισμό των Εβραίων από το κοινωνικό σύνολο, ενώ η ναζιστική ηγεσία στο Βερολίνο εξέταζε επιλογές για να πραγματοποιήσει την οριστική απομάκρυνση του εβραϊκού πληθυσμού από τη Γερμανία.

αντιστασιακό κίνημα

Η αντίσταση στον ναζισμό περιελάμβανε την αντίσταση από άτομα και ομάδες σε κάθε χώρα της κατεχόμενης Ευρώπης. Ποικίλλει από την ενεργό αντίσταση έως την πνευματική αντίσταση ακόμη και την τεκμηρίωση των εγκλημάτων.


The Bergen-Belsen camp in the north of Germany was established in 1940 as a prisoner of war camp. In 1943 it was handed to the SS, and it became a ‘detention camp’, primarily for Jewish prisoners, although Roma people, Jehovah’s Witnesses, gay men, ‘asocials’ and criminals were also imprisoned. Due to the Allied forces approaching other camps, the population of Bergen-Belsen grew from approximately 7,300 to over 90,000 between July 1944 and April 1945. Already inhumane conditions deteriorated, with diseases spreading rapidly. When British troops liberated Bergen-Belsen on 15 April, they found 53,000 prisoners, the majority of whom were emaciated and suffering from disease. As documented in Richard Dimbleby’s famous broadcast, thousands of dead bodies lay unburied on the ground. Another 13,000 died over the days following the liberation. Ultimately, more than 70,000 people were murdered there.


Ghettos were specially selected areas where Jews were forced to live; where they were segregated, controlled, and dehumanised. The Nazis’ original aim to force Jewish emigration from Germany had to be reassessed after the invasion of Poland and outbreak of war. The millions of Jews living in Nazi-occupied areas were instead concentrated into ghettos. In spring 1940 the Nazis established ghettos in the larger towns and cities across Poland. The establishment of ghettos was a provisional measure to control and segregate Jews while the Nazi leadership in Berlin deliberated upon options to realise their goal of removing the Jewish population form Germany.

Resistance Movement

Resistance to Nazism included opposition by individuals and groups in every country in Nazi-occupied Europe and varied from active resistance to spiritual resistance to documenting what was happening.


The Nazis planned the mass-deporation of European Jews to extermination camps in German-occupied Poland. The Jews were forced to gather at local sites, such as a synagogue or town square, and then crammed onto freight or passenger trains, with limited or no food or sanitary conditions. Journeys often lasted several days, and sometimes they took a few weeks. Many of those packed onto these trains died during the journey to the camps through starvation or overcrowding.