Thessaloniki at the beginning of the 20th century was a lively city where Jews, Greeks and Muslims lived in harmony. Unfortunately the events of worldhistory would change this balance and harmony.
After WWI there was a war between Turkey and Greece and in the peacetalks it was arranged that the Greeks would leave Turkey and the Muslims would leave Greece. Many people had to move and leave the places they had lived for generations.
Now the Muslims were gone, the Greeks formed the majority in the city and the Jews were a minority. There were some signs of anti-Semitism, but on the whole life was still good. Until the German occupation of Greece during WWII.
Most of the Jewish population were brought to camps in Poland and most of them never came back.
When the war ended, it was not over for Greece and a bitter civil war broke out between the communists who had fought against the nazi’s and the right-winged parties who denied the communist a place in the government. This caused a rift in the country that lasted for decades.
Against this interesting history the beautiful story of The thread by Victoria Hislop is set.
It is the story of young Dimitri, the son of a rich fabric merchant. He is a disappointment to his father, since he wants to become a doctor and is not interested in money. During the German occupation, Dimitri joins the communist partisans, and his father reacts by disowning him.
In 1923 the young girl Katharina came from Turkey and ended up in Thessaloniki. She became very handy with a needle and the Jewish family Moreno gave her a job in their dressmaking business.
Dimitri and Katharina begin to like each other more and more, but they will have to overcome quite a few obstacles before they can be together.
The threads of all these lives are intertwined and form a rich and lively pattern in which it almost seems like Thessaloniki is a character as well.
Very beautiful it is made clear how the events have effect on the lives of the ordinary people. Very touching were the scenes where everybody helps to hide the synagogue’s treasures from the Nazi’s, in a way that is fitting for this story.
Despite that some things were a little too coincidental and that most of the characters were too one-dimensional (very good or absolutely evil), The thread is an absolutely beautiful and touching story that also gives a lot of information about the history of Greece.
I really recommend this book.