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40 years of active presence

Sunday, December 10, 2023

    Zanet Nachmia (1924)

    Deportation from Ioannina on March 25, 1944.


    Zanet Nachmia was born in Ioannina in 1925, daughter of Haïm and Rebecca, née Mordochai. They had six children and lived inside the kastro (the old city walls), opposite the synagogue. Her father had a taverna. Zanet went to school until the age of 11 at the Alliance Israélite Universelle, before stopping to help her mother in their large household. In March 1943 the Germans arrested the whole family and deported them to Auschwitz-Birkenau. Zanet went to a string of concentration camps, including Mauthausen and Gelenau. For a time, she endured forced labour in a factory in Breslau. Of her whole family, only she and her oldest brother Michael survived. After liberation she returned to Ioannina and soon married Israel Tsitos, another camp survivor. They had two children together. She still lives in Ioannina.

    She was interviewed in 2007 at her house in Ioannina by Alexis Menexiadis.

    Excerpt from the interview:


    One morning there was a knock on the door. We opened it. He said, “Be ready to leave in half an hour. We’re kicking you out.” My mother was in tears. I remember my father saying “Don’t cry, let’s focus on what we’re going to do.” We took clothes to wear and blankets. Whatever we could gather in half an hour. […] That day it was windy and snowing. Cars and trucks came to take us away. There were lots of people. They took us to Larissa. We stayed eight days there. […] From there the Germans took us to Poland.

    In the camp

    We had to learn German. One girl was teaching the other what she could. Don’t ask what we went through. A few, very few girls were educated and knew German. We learned it from them, word by word.

    Death march”

    We remained three months [in Breslau]. One evening they woke us at midnight. The war was near. We heard the gunshots. They took us further into Germany. On foot. Don’t ask. Only half of us made it. Walking three or four days and nights without food, water, nothing. Day and night.

    Life afterwards

    Three young girls from Ioannina, who survived Auschwitz. (From the left): Zanet Haim Nachmia, Eftichia Nissim Giosseko, Esther Iakov Isaac, Ioannina, 1945.

    I have spoken to my children many times [about the camps]. I told them about it and they got sad. My husband and I lived well. We would sit together in the evening, as everyone does. Whatever we started talking about, it would always end up being about Germany. Every evening, every evening.