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  You are in: Home > Economics & Management > Jewish Entrepreneurship in Salonica, 1912–1940  

Jewish Entrepreneurship in Salonica, 1912–1940
An Ethnic Economy in Transition

Orly C. Meron

Orly C. Meron is a Senior Lecturer in the Jewish History Department and the Interdisciplinary Department for Social Sciences at the Bar-Ilan University, Israel. Her current interests include ethnic economies of recent migrants as well as permanent minorities and specifically the economic history of Jewish Sephardic communities before World War II.


In this book the author, Dr. Orly C. Meron, provides a multidisciplinary exploration of Salonica’s Jewish-owned economy between the years 1912-1940, a period prior to and during Greece's national consolidation. Based on original and newly analysed archival materials, she presents the results of her comprehensive, comparative and inter-ethnic study of Jewish entrepreneurial patterns for three distinct historical periods and two levels of analysis. The first pertains to the multi-ethnic business world of Greek Macedonia (1912–1922) after its incorporation into the Greek nation-state; the second refers to the era of minority–majority relations (1923–1930) following radical modification of Salonica's demographic composition, a process that culminated in the ethnic unification of its business world. The third includes a sectoral analysis of Jewish entrepreneurial patterns as they developed in response to the local and global economic crisis that raged during the 1930s. The macro analysis combines a comparative static overview of Salonica’s Jewish versus Greek business behaviour together with a dynamic comparative analysis focusing on transitions in Jewish entrepreneurial patterns. The micro analysis delves into features of Salonica’s Jewish business elite: class resources, family and ethnic networks, business strategies and organizational structures.

Dr. Meron’s research contributes new theoretical insights to the study of ethnic groups in changing environments by applying the ethnic economy approach while crossing the disciplinary boundaries between history, economics, sociology and their related fields. Her study opens a revealing window to the economic and demographic history of the Jewish community of Salonica, the “Jerusalem of the Balkans”, home to the largest concentration of Sephardic Jews before the Holocaust.


Part I The Rise of a Jewish Economy in Ottoman Salonica (1881–1912)

Chapter 1 Theoretical Framework
Chapter 2 The Jewish Economy on the Eve of the Greek Annexation, 1881–1912

Part II From European Semi-Colonialism in Multi-national Ottoman Macedonia to Greek Nation-Statehood, 1912–1929

Chapter 3 New Conditions for Jewish Entrepreneurship
Chapter 4 Jewish Entrepreneurship after the Incorporation of Salonica, 1912–1922
Chapter 5 Macro-Level Reconstructing the Jewish-Owned Economy, 1923–1929

Part III Jewish Entrepreneurial Response and the Jewish Economy during the 1930s

Chapter 6 New Externalities and Impoverished Jewish Collective Resources, 1930–1938
Chapter 7 Confronting the Financial Crisis, 1930–1934
Chapter 8 Recovery and Survival within the Consolidating Greek Autarky, 1933–1938
Chapter 9 Jewish Entrepreneurial Patterns and the Jewish Economy
Chapter 10 Epilogue


Jewish Firms by Branch and Sub-Branch (Salonica, 1921)
Jewish Firms (Salonica, 1930)
Jewish Firms in Salonica (1935–1938)


Index of Firm’s Names

Name and Subject Index

“Explores the transformation in the Jewish-owned economy in Salonica during the period from the incorporation of Salonica and its Macedonian periphery into the Greek nation-state in 1912 until the Italian offensive in Albania and Greece’s entry into World War II in 1940. Discusses the theoretical framework; the Jewish economy on the eve of the Greek annexation, 1881–1912; new conditions for Jewish entrepreneurship; Jewish entrepreneurship after the incorporation of Salonica, 1912–22; macro-level restructuring the Jewish-owned economy, 1923–29; new externalities and impoverished Jewish collective resources, 1930–38; confronting the economic crisis, 1930–33; recovery and survival within the consolidating Greek autarky, 1934–37; and Jewish entrepreneurial patterns and the Jewish economy.” Journal of Economic Literature

“This book explores an important and neglected chapter in economic history. It shows the fascinating achievement of an innovative inter-disciplinary methodology integrating sociology with historical archival analyses. It portrays the Jewish industrialists, merchants and workers of Salonica in a time of major changes before and after the Economic Crisis (1929–1933) until the final blow by the Nazi invasion of Greece.” Prof. Gérard Nahon, Directeur d’Études honoraire, École Pratique des Hautes Études, Section des Sciences Religieuses, Sorbonne, Paris

“Introducing new data sources and often utilizing social science methods, Meron tracks changes in demography and politics in a major commercial center of the Jewish Diaspora during the tumultuous inter-war period. The result is an economic history that does justice to the underlying group structure of Greek society rather than imposing a deductive textbook version. Here is the record of an economy embedded in a multi-ethnic society such that major international political and economic changes were locally refracted and channeled rather than simply downloaded. Although the book deals with Jewish history, it will be of serious interest to students of ethnic economies and ethnic diasporas anywhere in the world.” Ivan Light, Professor of Sociology at the University of California, Los Angeles

“In this beautifully written, elegantly theorized and painstaking researched book, Orly Meron tells the story of Jewish economic activities in Salonica prior to the Nazi take-over. Applying methods and data from several scholarly disciplines, it examines the relations between Jews, Greeks and other Europeans during a period that encompasses the end of the Ottoman Empire, the Great Depression and the rise of Nazism. In so doing, it brings to light an important but understudied chapter in Jewish and European economic history. At the same time, it contributes significantly to our understanding of ethnic economies.” Steven J. Gold, Professor and Graduate Program Director, Department of Sociology, Michigan State University

“National historiographies usually mask the significance of the entrepreneurial activities of ethnic minorities in the economies of the host countries. Meron produces a fascinating book that, albeit its Jewish viewpoint, goes a step further: by using an interdisciplinary theoretical approach it forms a paradigm of the response and adjustment of an ethnic minority group from an old multicultural eastern empire to a modern peripheral European national state.” Professor Gelina Harlaftis, Department of History, Ionian University, Corfu


Publication Details

Hardback ISBN:
  Paperback ISBN:
Page Extent / Format:
442 pp. / 246 x 171 mm
Release Date:
h/b January 2012 p/b March 2013
  Illustrated:   Extensive tables and figures
Hardback Price:
£85.00 / $125
Paperback Price:
£40.00 / $55.00

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