Kos is a Greek island in the eastern Mediterranean and part of the Dodecanese island group. Until 1912, the group of islands belonged to Turkey, but after the Italian-Turkish war (1911–1912), Kos (and the entire group of islands) came under Italian rule. During the Second World War Italy was initially allied with Germany. But as the war in 1943 went bad for Germany, Italy withdraw from the war in September 1943. Areas previously under Italian control risked being handed over to the allies and this was unacceptable for Germany. Therefore they decided for a swift operation and occupied the Dodecanese islands in autumn 1943. Under Italian rule, the Jews of Kos (and Rhodes) did not risk being deported cause the italian didn’t share the german attitudes towards the Jews. But know when they came under german control, things changed.

On the island of Kos there were no more than 140 Jews, but they were robbed of everything and deported by sea to Athens in July 1944, along with just under 1700 Jews from Rhodes. A journey that took over a week and under inhumane conditions. Prior to deportation they had been imprisoned in the courthouse down by the port of Kos town. In Athens, they were sent to Chaidari concentration camp before, in early August, deported further by train to Auschwitz. A journey that took about two weeks and where the majority were murdered shortly after arrival. Only one Jew from Kos is said to have survived the war.

Current status: Preserved (2017).

Location: 36° 53'41" N 27° 17'30" E

Get there: Walk from central Kos town.

My comment:

The courthouse is still there and is shared by police authorities. But I couldn’t see any memorial tablet or anything when I visited the site. However, there is a memorial plaque at the synagogue in memory of the Jewish community that existed on Kos from the 1500s to 1944. The synagogue is now only used for cultural purposes. About two kilometers west of Kos town there is a Jewish cemetery that dates back to the 1700s. The cemetery is a bit dilapidated and locked, but inside there is a memorial dedicated to the Jews from Kos who died in the Holocaust.

Follow up in books: Gilbert, Martin: The Holocaust: A History of the Jews of Europe During the Second World War (1987).