Sunday, 20 November 2011

Salonica / Thessalonica, 1815

This report from the year of Napoleon's final defeat contains the usual racial stereotyping, but shows that only a minority of Thessalonica's Jews were brokers. Most did manual labour at the docks.

The Jews form a large portion of the population of the city, and the number of houses occupied by this people is estimated at between three and four thousand. The community is of Spanish descent, and settled here under certain conditions of protection and privilege, which appear to have been faithfully executed on the part of the Turks. The Jews of higher class obtain a livelihood chiefly as brokers, or retail-dealers in the Bazars; the greater number are employed as porters on the quays, and in other similar offices. They exhibit the same active diligence here as elsewhere; but the repute of fraudulent habits goes along with that of industry; and the Jews of Salonica are characterized in a saying of the country, as a people whom it is the business of every stranger to avoid.”*

* This saying conveys a caution, “to shun the Greek of Athens, the Turk of Negropont, and the Jew of Salonica.”

Source: Sir Henry Holland, Travels in the Ionian Isles, Albania, Thessaly, Macedonia, &c, 1815.

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