There is evidence that there have been Jewish communities in Crete since the 1st century B.C.E.
In 1941 there were 364 Jews in Hania.
Crete was occupied by the Germans in 1941. In June of 1944 the Jews of Crete were arrested and sent to Herakleion, where they were put on the ship Tanais, together with about 600 Greek and Italian prisoners. Soon after the ship set sail for Athens it was torpedoed by a British U-Boat and all aboard perished.
It is believed that only two Jews from Crete survived by escaping.
Today the Jewish presence in Hania is represented by the Etz Hayyim Synagogue and Museum. The Synagogue of Etz Hayyim was desecrated within a few days of the arrest of the community on the 29th May 1944. In 1999 the rebuilt Synagogue was officially re-opened. Etz Hayyim is the only surviving Jewish monument on the island of Crete.
See their website for more details: http://www.etz-hayyim-hania.org
Photos by Emmanuel Santos
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