On the occasion of the publication of his latest Salonica, City of Ghosts: Christians, Muslims and Jews, 1430-1950, the Kokkalis Foundation hosted the great historian and Columbia university professor Mark Mazower for a visit and lecture held in Salonica on June 15.
Addressing a capacity crowd of over 600 guests, Mark Mazower captivated an audience of government representatives, businessmen, diplomats, academia, media, and other distinguished guests with his incursion into 500 years of history of a city he characterized as a crossroads of the world.
Exhaustively researched in Mazower’s latest title, Salonica’s history is full of enthralling tales of multiculturalism, tolerance, and mutual learning, tales bearing important lessons for today’s times. Focusing on the city’s course from the beginning of Ottoman rule to Nazi occupation, his enlightening and swaying account departs from mainstream American accounts in arguing that, despite power struggles and street fights, Ottoman rule was relatively benevolent. Jews, Christians, and Muslims not only lived together but actually worked together and even prospered together.
Religious pluralism and the city’s multicultural heritage began to waver after 1912 as the consensus of coexistence started to dissolve, foreboding a tragic end to the historian’s narrative of the city. The Muslim population either left or was expelled, and resentment against the Jews increased, culminating with Jewish deportation as part of the final solution under Nazi rule.
The possibilities of a Past