Kastoria, a picturesque small town in northern Greece, situated between mountains and lakes, was home to a vibrant Sephardic Jewish community who lived in peace and harmony with its Christian neighbors for hundreds of years, even during the occupation of the area by Italy in World War II.
Seattle local, Leah Watts, shared the fascinating story of her mother, Nina Elias, and her family who originated in Kastoria. Nina’s family fled back to Kastoria from Yugoslavia in hopes of surviving the war, but the Nazis' entrance in 1944 sealed their fate. Only a few months before the liberation of Kastoria by Greek guerrilla units and the end of the war, the entire Jewish community of about 1000 people, was transported to Auschwitz, along with Italian families who helped them. 14-year-old Nina, her mother Mila and the cousins Lena and Beni, were among the only survivors.