Biography:

Esther Florentin was born in Thessaloniki in 1932. Her father was Benzion Altsech and her mother Kleri, née Matalon. She had a younger brother, Solomon. Before the war the family lived in the centre of Thessaloniki and her father had a fabric shop. Soon after their internment in the ghetto, they fled to Athens and hid in various houses, Esther separately from her parents and her younger brother. In 1944 her parents and younger brother were betrayed, arrested and deported to Auschwitz-Birkenau. Only her mother survived. Esther emigrated to Palestine in 1945, where she remained until 1950, before returning to Thessaloniki. In 1951 she married Maurice Florentin, another Thessaloniki native. He had escaped thanks to his participation in the armed resistance. They had two children.

The audio interview was conducted by Alexis Menexiadis in 2007 at her house in Athens.

Excerpt from the interview

The decision

When things got tougher [in the ghetto], we knew we needed to get out. Someone told us that he would help us escape one morning. We left at dawn and went very early to an arranged place – arranged at a price, of course. But the person didn’t meet us. He took the money and never came. So, we had to go home. And from there, I remember, we were looking for a way to escape.

Betrayal

It was Sunday morning. My brother was ready to be taken to a lady’s house where to Koliatsou Square, to the first house [in Athens], where we had stayed. This woman was going to take my brother to Kifisia. They had a house somewhere around there, at the end of the train line. […] Then my brother would be out of the way. But she didn’tmanageto. The woman who was hiding my mother and father turned them in. We realised that afterwards. My mother had taken my brother out into the yard. It was the ground floor. A Greek and a German came into the house. From what we heard afterwards, the Greek had realised there was a child in the house, because my mother had packed his things in order to take him to Kifissia and she’d taken him outside. Then the daughter of the woman went out and brought him in, so they took him away.

 

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