“The Nazis have started deporting Jews from Thessaloniki,” Bishop Chrysostomos cried as he walked into the Mayor’s office on the Greek island of Zakynthos. “Since they took control of Greece two years ago, we knew they would continue their devilish scheme. We don’t know what they have done to all the Jews, because they immediately take over all the newspapers wherever they go. I can’t believe anything that comes out of German sanctioned newspapers.”
“Last I heard, they have started to register all the Jews,” Mayor Lucas Κarrer said, concern evident on his face. “We know it’s not just so they can count the Jews. I don’t know where they send them either, but I won’t let any of my people get sent there.”
“Have you seen this letter from Archbishop Damaskinos of the Greek Orthodox Church?” Bishop Chrysostomos asked, handing a piece of paper to Mayor Karrer. “It was signed last month on March 23.”
The mayor took the paper and read.
“This is pretty direct,” Mayor Karrer said after reading the document. “It mirrors my feelings exactly. I see no distinction among the people that live here. They are all Greeks. I agree that we can’t turn any of our people over to the Germans.”
“They will come and ask for names,” Bishop Chrysostomos said. “We need to be ready when they do come. We know there are more than 270 Jews on Zakynthos. I pray we won’t lose any of them. Maybe they will forget about this island.”
“I doubt it,” Mayor Karrer replied. “The Germans are very thorough. We need to be ready.”
“I will give you one last chance to give me a list of all the Jews on this island,” said Berenz, the German appointed governor of the Greek Ionian Islands.
Bishop Chrysostomos looked on as Mayor Lucas Κarrer, stood resolute. Over the past 6 months, they had personally helped find places for each one of the 275 Jews to hide throughout the countryside. Now they stood unarmed in the midst of the German military that had already conquered most of Europe. When Germany joined Italy and Bulgaria, it only took them a month to conquer Greece. What would two men be able to do against such force.
Mayor Karrer handed Berenz a sheet of paper. Berenz thought it was too small to be the complete list. He coolly opened the paper and read. His eyes had been haughty since the moment the Bishop and Mayor had been brought to him. Now as he looked at the list, his eyes were all astonishment.
It read: Catholic Bishop Chrysostomos and Mayor Lucas Karrer.
Not knowing what to say, Berenz told them to leave. Sweating, and unsure what to do, he stuck to protocol. He sent the list to Berlin.
For the next 13 months, Bishop Chrysostomos and Mayor Karrer lived with the reality that they could be punished for their defiance. But in October 1944 the Germans left Greece. Not one member of the Jewish population on the island of Zakynthos was ever registered or deported by the Nazis. The people of the island kept them hidden throughout the occupation.
For you: Each of us will be faced with tough choices, but if we are true to our morals and principles, we will have a far greater impact than we know. Consciously make choices this week to always be true to what you know is right.