Since 2000 we have annually commemorated the date of the action that led to the drowning of some 276 members of our Hania Jewish Community as well as a large number of Italian and Greek prisoners. Rather than lose track of Jewish lunar time we anticipated the event by adding it after Minha prayers prior to Erev Shabat of the 8th June and coincided the lighting of 276 memorial candles with the lighting on Erev Shabat of the oil lamp. The Ehal was opened and the Hashcabah was read out in the Synagogue and then the candles were lit after reading aloud all of the names of the members of the Community. The complete text of a talk that a member of our community, Ovadiah Garcia, wrote and delivered at the US Air Base in Hania on the Holocaust Remembrance Day – and what we should learn as Jews from it – was also given to everyone.
Somewhat appropriate was the appearance in the Hanotika Nea newspaper of Hania of a perplexing article by Manolis Manousakas along with a series of photographs by an unknown photographer, of the funeral of Richard Kruger who was the Honorary German Consul and resident in Hania during the Occupation. This event inexplicably took place in the Metropolitan Cathedral of Hania though Kruger had been baptized in 1931 as Greek Orthodox and prominent on the throne was Agathangelos the Metropolitan Archbishop. The date was the 18th March. The very first photograph in the series of six images shows Rabbi Elias Osmos sitting in front of the flower covered bier on which rested the remains of Kruger, very prominently a Nazi Swastika can be seen. Osmos had been the Rabbi of Hania after the death of Arch-rabbi Evlagon in 1935 and was from a family with roots in Kerkyra and Patras. He was the sole leader of a Communiy, the President of which was in hiding in Athens, and on the 29th May of 1944 – just two months after the photograph was taken he and the entire Jewish Community were arrested, incarcerated at Aghia Prison, subsequent to being transported to Heraklion and boarded onto a ship that was torpedoed not far from the island of Milos by a British Submarine. Almost everything as to what was happening and what was to happen is written on the face of Osmos.
* Photograph of Rabbi Osmos at the funeral courtesy of Manolis Manousakas.