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Cyprus marks 75 years since closure of Jewish detention camps

This week marked 75 years since the closing of the detention camps for the Jewish Holocaust survivors in Cyprus.

In a speech marking the event earlier this week, President Nikos Christodoulides said the anniversary carried a profound meaning as ‘it is the first such occasion after the inconceivable terrorist attacks of October 7 which we condemned in the strongest possible terms’.

In total, there were twelve camps situated across Cyprus, operating between 1946 to 1949. Following the end of the Second World War and prior to the creation of the State of Israel, approximately 53,000 Jews passed through Cyprus and the camps of Karaolos, north of Famagusta, Dhekelia and Xylotymvou.

‘The place that we stand here today, the former British Military Hospital (BMH), was the birthplace of many of the children of the Holocaust survivors who were interned in then-colonised Cyprus en route to their new homeland,’ Christodoulides said. ‘2253 of them were born in Cyprus during the internment period. Even after so many years, this singe fact still stands as a testament that hope can still shine even in the darkest of times’.

He added: ‘This place is not just a piece of land of demolished soulless buildings. This place and the detention camps in other areas of Cyprus are monuments of the human spirit, monuments of hope’.

He said the location – the old BMH – ‘reminds us of the 53,000 souls who escaped the horrors of the Holocaust only to be interned behind barbed wire in colonised Cyprus. This place reminds us that despite the hardships, they were determined and filled with hope after so much darkness’.

He also referred to the generosity of Cypriots who worked in the military camps and lived in the surrounding villages who identified with the Jewish refugees’ suffering and provided support by way of smuggled food, clothing and other items, demonstrating acts of kindness, compassion and solidarity. They even arranged illicit escapes.

‘On this 75th anniversary of the closure of the internment camps, we celebrate the brave Cypriots who aptly showed support and solidarity,’ he concluded.

Famagusta Gazette