Illinois Ancestors: Book details Greece's wartime past

Illinois Ancestors: Book details Greece's wartime past

Why does an author choose to publish a family story as a novel rather than a biography? Perhaps the reading public is more apt to pick up and read a love story rather than a family story? Often, however, that love story IS the family's story. Such is the case of the beautifully written new book by Yvette Manessis Corporon, "When the Cypress Whispers."

Corporon's roots go back to a little Greek island, Erikousa, where her beloved grandmother had many stories and myths to share, but she never revealed the deep sadness in her heart. During World War II, that island was a refuge for many Jewish families, and the Greeks hid and protected them from the Nazi soldiers who would frequently check for hiding Jews and kill them along with their protectors.

As a young girl, and later as a young widow, the granddaughter in the story would return to the island to enjoy the love, and food and stories told by her grandmother. Isn't that what we all seek; to be told of the love that has been passed down from generation to generation?

We all need to recognize what our ancestors have given us, what is being passed down for future generations!

"When the Cypress Whispers," is a 366-page hardcover book, ISBN 978-0-06-226758-0, published by HarperCollins Publishers, New York, that can be ordered from

Corporon is an America-born, award-winning TV producer and writer, and recently made contact with descendants of the family her grandmother had sheltered during the war. Her first novel reflects the deep love she has for her Greek ancestry.

Greek Jews and the Holocaust

An interesting website at contains a 2004 lecture by Dr. Michael Matsas, author of "The Illusion of Safety; the Story of the Greek Jews During the Second World War," published by Pella Publishing Co. in 1997. Matsas reminded his audience that 87 percent of Greek Jews were killed during World War II and "the U.S. and Great Britain (were) indirectly responsible." Be sure to click on this website's links to additional details.

Jewish research aided by guide

FamilySearch has created guides for researching in specific countries worldwide as well as individual U.S. states. Researching Jewish ancestry is covered in the booklet, "Tracing Your Jewish Ancestors: Finding Records of Your Ancestors From the U.S. to Europe 1850 to 1930." Visit to read and/or download the 30-page guide that includes such topics as how to begin, U.S. passenger arrival lists, the research process, Jewish record collections, repositories of records, gazetteers, languages, timelines and websites. (The steps for finding Jewish ancestors are similar, in part, for finding ANY ancestor.)

FamilySearch International is a not-for-profit organization sponsored by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and has been gathering, preserving and sharing genealogical records worldwide for over 100 years. Its materials are free online at or through over 4,800 family history centers in 70 countries, including the famous Family History Library in Salt Lake City, Utah.

Jewish population maps

At the International Institute for Jewish Genealogy and the Paul Jacobi Center have created a website of interactive online maps that illustrate the population of many Jewish communities from 1750 to 1950.

Four maps are presented, showing Jewish communities and their populations in 1750, in 1800 and 1850, in 1900 and 1930, and in 1950. One can click on any map to load the full map and data for each time frame. Be sure to click on the links to the user guide as well as the technical report (both in pdf format), which has information about the research, selection of communities, trends and the creation of the maps.

At the dawn of the 18th century, it is estimated that 65.1 percent of world Jewry were living in Europe. This proportion increased further and reached more than 80 percent in the 19th century. On the eve of World War II, 57.2 percent of the Jewish population lived in Europe. After the Holocaust, this proportion fell to 32.2 percent in 1948.

Joan Griffis may be reached via email at or by sending a letter to Illinois Ancestors, c/o The News-Gazette, P.O. Box 677, Champaign, IL 61824-0677.

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