The Jewish community in a small Greek town is suing for the return of funds paid out during Nazi occupation.

Jewish representatives from Thessaloniki filed the suit Friday, appealing to the European Court of Human Rights in France to repay ransom money Jewish victims paid to Nazi officials in World War II.


“It is the end of a long process,” David Saltiel, the community’s president, told JTA. “We have finished with the courts in Greece and now we hope that the Human Rights Court can help restore the ransom money that the Jewish community paid to Germany.”

The money in question was paid to help free some 9,000 Jewish men from forced labor. In total, 1.9 billion drachmas, the equivalent of $69 million, was handed over.

“They were sick and dying and starving and working without food, so the community collected the money to pay,” added Saltiel.

Thessaloniki boasted a Jewish population of 55,000 prior to the war. An estimated 49,000 were deported during the war, and less than 2,000 survived.