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December 15, 1995

Greek Jewish hero of war memorialized

ATHENS (JTA) -- The bust of a Greek Jewish colonel who died during the 1940 Italian invasion of Greece was unveiled last week at the War Museum here.

Col. Mordocheos Frizis was the first high-ranking Greek officer to die on the battlefield during the Italian invasion. The highly decorated colonel was killed by an Italian bomb Dec. 5, 1940.

Government officials, representatives of the Greek Jewish community and family members were among those at the Dec. 4 ceremony.

Many years ago, Frizis' statue was placed in a central square of Halkis, his birthplace.

The president of the Central Board of Jewish Communities in Greece, Nissim Mais, said at the unveiling: "The bust of our coreligionist, the late Col. M. Frizis, which has been placed in the War Museum, together with the other war heroes, constitutes a monument of commemoration and honor for all the Greek Jewish soldiers."

Mais added: "We, the Jews of Greece, together with our Christian compatriots, have fought side by side to defend Greece and to serve the ideal of liberty and national independence."

The Italian army attacked Oct. 28, 1940. The Germans invaded April 6, 1941.

Before the German invasion, 12,898 Jews served in the army, and hundreds fell in battle. After the occupation, the country was split up.

The United Hellenic American Congress has established the "Mordocheos Frizis Award," a credit to American Jews who promote the strengthening of Greek-Jewish ties.

This year the recipient of the award was U.S. Rep. Benjamin Gilman (R-N.Y.).


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