Anti-Semitic graffiti spray-painted near Greek synagogue, local Jews enraged

The small Jewish community of Larissa, Greece, is in turmoil after synagogue fence, Holocaust memorial spray-painted with neo-Nazi graffiti.

Ben Shaul ,

Pro-Nazi graffiti (archive)
Pro-Nazi graffiti (archive)

The small Jewish community in the northeastern Greek city of Larissa is up in arms after the fence around the local synagogue and Holocaust memorial were spray-painted with anti-Semitic graffiti.

Local police have opened an investigation and have arrested a suspect with the help of footage from security cameras. While the suspect's identity has yet to be disclosed, according to initial reports, he is an elderly man and a devoted Christian.

The local Jewish community and Jewish organizations throughout the country have strongly condemned the incident and called on investigators to prosecute the suspect to the full extent of the law.

At its peak, the community numbered a total of approximately 2,000 families. About 900 of Larissa's Jews managed to escape to isolated villages or to Turkey during the Holocaust, before immigrating to Israel.

Greek residents were known for helping to hide the city's Jews, sometimes even sheltering families in their homes. Between 1943 and 1944, 150 Jews who remained in the city along with another 75 who had decided to return from hiding were rounded up and transported to Auschwitz.

After the war, some of the city's Jews returned to their homes, but the vast majority opted to move to the US, Israel, or Athens. In the mid-1990s, a monument to the victims of the Holocaust was erected in the city center. It has been desecrated on a number of occasions by local neo-Nazis.

Today, the Jewish community of Larissa numbers approximately 250 individuals and has a synagogue, a Jewish elementary school, and a number of community organizations.