A book about the Greek-Jewish roots of French President Nicolas Sarkozy, whose genus comes from the Jewish community of the Greek port city of Thessaloniki, went on sale in Greece.
The presentation of the book “I am the grandson of the Greek” took place on Wednesday evening in Athens. It was attended by Greek Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyanni, former Prime Minister Konstantinos Mitsotakis and ambassadors of France and Israel.
The book, written by three Greek authors, is a historical account of the family of Sarkozy’s mother, who was born in Thessaloniki, the city that was once called the “Balkan Jerusalem” because of the large Jewish community.
One copy of the book was already handed over to Nicolas Sarkozy at the last meeting of the EU Council in Brussels by Greek Prime Minister Kostas Karamanlis. The head of the Greek government also promised the French president that in the future the book will be translated into French.
Recall that the Jewish origin of the presidential candidate is rooted in medieval Spain, where the ancestors of his mother, who were named Malach, lived. Like other Spanish Jews, the Malachs were expelled from Spain by King Ferdinand and settled in France, but a hundred years later, the ancestors of the presidential candidate emigrated to Thessaloniki. There, in the north of Greece, they lived until the middle of the 20th century.
Great-grandfather Sarkozy, a famous jeweler in Thessaloniki, jeweler Mordechai Malach, passed away in 1913 and was buried in the old Jewish cemetery in Thessaloniki. During the Second World War, before the Nazis arrived and the subsequent destruction of the cemetery, the remains were reburied, and today his grave is in Stavrupoli. In 1917, the city was almost completely destroyed by a strong fire, which put an end to the family business of Malakhov.
Grandfather Nicolas was the eldest of seven children in the family. His real name is Aaron, but his family name was Benitso. At the age of 14, he went with his mother to France, where he learned to be a doctor, and during World War I served as a medical doctor in the French army. Then he met his future wife, nurse Adele Bouvier, and after the wedding took the Catholic name Benedict. Subsequently, two daughters were born to Benedict and Adele: Susan and Andre, the mother of Nicolas. In the 1950s, Andre Malach married the Hungarian immigrant Paul Sarkozy, who became the father of a famous politician and statesman.
Until the death of his grandfather in 1972, Nicolas Sarkozy did not know anything about his Jewish roots. Benedict Malach hid from his grandchildren the truth about his origin, because, as the author of the book notes, he did not want to “injure” his grandchildren.
In 2006, when Sarkozy was on a visit to Greece, he visited the Jewish community in Thessaloniki. Community leaders presented the French guest with a special memorial sign with the inscription: “In memory of the visit of Nicolas Sarkozy to Greece from the Jewish community of Thessaloniki, the city of your ancestors, Israel and the Jerusalem Balkans.” They also presented an album with its family tree and photographs of their ancestors. The event was attended by a distant relative of Sarkozy, the wife of the president of the Jewish community of Thessaloniki, Lucy Saltel, one of the descendants of the Malach family. Feeling sympathy, Sarkozy thanked for the gifts and attention and noted: “My roots are here.” Most of the Malach family died during the Holocaust. Today, surviving relatives live mainly in Switzerland, France and England.