In the historical novel, Hidden in Plain Sight, Karen Batshaw paints a vivid picture of Nazi brutality in WWII Greece and the plight of Greek Jews.
Greek Jews inhabited Greece for centuries. Most came from Spain, and settled in various parts of Greece, including Thessaloniki. They even had their own language — Ladino — but lived among their Christian neighbors, and were proud Greek citizens. Most do not know the plight of the Greek Jews. Karen Batshaw’s historical novel helps bring the startling history to a wider audience.
Meet Karen Batshaw
Originally from Chicago, Karen Batshaw lives in Washington, DC and Williamsburg, VA.
When Karen was in college, she and her friend decided to go to Europe on a group tour, through England, Scotland, Belgium, Switzerland, France, Italy, Spain, Germany, and Austria.
“I was not supposed to visit Greece — it wasn’t on the itinerary. But alas, my boyfriend at the time, appeared and asked me to leave the tour and go with him to Greece since he heard it was a great place to visit.”
As Greece always does, she cast a spell. Karen has since been fascinated by all things Greek.
She began writing historical novels. Her first book, Love’s Journey, published in 2012, is set in the American West following the Civil War. Her 3rd novel, Echoes in the Mist, set in Greece in 1878, allowed her to explore her passion for Greece.
Inspiration for Hidden in Plain Sight
After writing Echoes in the Mist, Karen wanted to write another novel with the same characters. She began to research Greek immigration in the U.S. Since Tarpon Springs has the largest percentage of Greeks (per capita) in the U.S., she decided to visit there during Greek Independence Day celebrations.
“I posted a photo on Facebook of the parade. A friend wished a man ‘Happy Independence Day’, which led to me meeting him. He was a Greek Jew and told me the story of his parents being saved by Christians in the town of Volos. I was intrigued and started to research Greece during the Nazi occupation.”
Karen explained why it was so important to tell this story.
“I felt that so few people know this history and that it’s a story of both goodness and tragedy that should be shared.”
It took 1-½ years to research and write the book.
About Hidden in Plain Sight
During WWII and the Nazi Occupation in Greece, many Greek Orthodox Christians risked their lives to save their Jewish friends and neighbors. Anna Carasso, a Greek Jew from Thessaloniki, is sent to Athens to be “hidden” by her father’s business associate, an Orthodox Christian.
With a new identity as a cousin from Kos, “Michaelitsa Kalodosis” lives in the Giannopolous home, goes to church, and works as a nurse in the local hospital. When the Nazis took over Thessaloniki, she wished to return to her family, but was instructed to remain in Athens where she was safe. Despite reassurances to the contrary, the Nazis caused great suffering to the people of Greece, especially Greek Jews who’d been living in Greece for centuries — and anyone sympathetic to their plight.
Hell-bent on making the world “free of Jews”, the Nazis set their sites on annihilating Greek Jews. Desperate times call for desperate measures, and the people of Greece — Orthodox and Jew — did what they had to do to survive the brutality. When “Litsa” falls in love with the young doctor, Alexander Giannopolous, the masquerade becomes a reality. But is it enough to save her?
REVIEW of Hidden in Plain Sight
Many don’t know about this little-known and shocking history. What better way to bring that story to light than with a very human story. People connect to stories through well-developed characters that make the story more personal.
Anna and Alexander have so much to teach us. Hidden in Plain Sight is a tribute to all those Annas and Alexanders who didn’t live to tell their tale, as well as those who cannot speak of the horrors of that time. It honors the Orthodox Greeks who bravely hid their Jewish countrymen — especially those who lost their life in this pursuit. It pays homage to all the Greek Jews — those who perished, and those who survived.
In Hidden in Plain Sight, we see what desperate measures people take to protect themselves and those they love. We also see the essence of the human spirit; that race and religion do not separate us, for we are all human. Jew or Christian, this book is a must-read.
On October 23, Karen Batshaw will speak at Kehila Kedosha Janina Greek Synagogue in NY, and present her book at an authors festival in Washington DC in December. Always looking for more opportunities to share this little known period in history, she’s been speaking at book clubs, Greek churches, and retirement homes.
By: Karen Batshaw
Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform (June 15, 2016)