The Jews of Salonica were a community that lived in the Greek port city of Salonica (Thessaloniki) for 2,000 years, making them one of the oldest, most established Jewish communities in the world. Following the German invasion of Greece in April 1941, the city's 56,000 Sephardim Jews were shipped to the Nazi extermination camps. Nearly 98% of the total Jewish population of the city died during the war. Only the Polish Jews experienced a greater level of obliteration.
On arrival at Auschwitz-Birkenau, about 37,000 Salonicans were gassed immediately, especially women, children and the elderly. Nearly a quarter of all medical experiments perpetrated on Jews were on Greek Jews. Others from the community were sent to work as forced labour in the camps. In the years 1943-1944, they accounted for a significant proportion of the workforce of Auschwitz, known for their tenacity and solidarity. Because of their unfamiliarity with Yiddish, Jews from Greece were sent to clean up the rubble of Warsaw in August 1943. From the 1,000 Salonican Jews employed for the task, a group of twenty managed to escape the ghetto and join the Polish resistance which organized the Warsaw Uprising.
Many Jews from Salonica were recruited into the Sonderkommandos and were involved in the failed revolt of October 1944. Before being massacred by the Germans, the insurgents sang a song of the Greek partisan movement and the Greek National Anthem.
Fewer than 1,800 of Salonica's Jews returned from the Nazi death camps. Today, around 1,300 Jews live in Thessaloniki, making it the second largest Jewish community in Greece after Athens.