There is no Jewish community there, but there are remains of the Jewish quarters (in the Aghia Varvara neighborhood) and of the Jewish cemetery (in the Kratika area – Dimosthenous St., as well as in Dimitras St.). A Jewish villa now hosts the “Olympion” cinema.
Drama has a history going back to antiquity, but it’s not mentioned as having a Jewish community until the late 12th century, when Benjamin of Tudela visited it and found 140 householders.
Drama fared badly during the 14th century with the decline of the Byzantine Empire, and yet, like Kavala, it may well have attracted the resettlement of Jews from Hungary after the fall of Budapest in 1529. After the 17th century, like most towns in Thrace, Drama was active in the cultivation and production of both tobacco and silk, and its Jews took a leading role in the commerce. The community was very linked to those of Serres, Kavala, Salonika and Sophia both by marriage and trade.
In 1940, the Jewish community was one of the largest in Thrace, with some 1,200 Jews. Immediately after the Bulgarians occupied Thrace, the Jews were offered special consideration in return for accepting “Bulgarization” (taking Bulgarian citizenship and speaking Bulgarian). On refusing this they were stripped of almost all social amenities and their means of carrying out normal business. Like their compatriots, the Greek Christians, they were harassed constantly. In 1943 they were arrested in mass and sent first to Kavala and then to the city if Lom on the Danube river, and finally by boat to Vienna, where they were handed to the Nazis for subsequent execution in Treblinka. In 1948, there were only 40 Jews left in Drama, and today there are but a few individuals.
Based on Jewish Sites and Synagogues of Greece –
Nicholas P. Stavroulakis and Timothy J. DeVinney – Talos press