Greek Jews condemn defacing of memorial mural for Thessaloniki Holocaust victims

Jewish community of Thessaloniki "unequivocally" condemned vandalism to mural memorializing the city's Holocaust victims.

Tags: Greece
Dan Verbin ,

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The Jewish community of Thessaloniki, Greece on Thursday "unequivocally" condemned vandalism to a new mural memorializing the city's Jews who were murdered by the Nazis in death camps.

“It is unfortunate that a few days after its completion strangers, who seem to be bothered by the willingness of the city to remember even the darkest pages of its history, vandalized a work that received flattering comments both for its aesthetics and for the powerful message that it conveys on the need to preserve the memory and constantly remind the events of the Holocaust,” the community said in a statement.

Last week, Thessaloniki observed the anniversary of the 1943 deportation of the first train taking the area's Jews to Auschwitz.

At the outset of World War II, Thessaloniki, then called Salonika, was home to one of the most ancient Jewish communities in Europe. Before the Holocaust, 55,200 Jews lived there, two-thirds of the population. Only one thirtieth of that population, approximately 1,900 Jews, survived.

The mural is 38 yards long and 7 yards high. It was produced by street artist Same84, Ekathimerini news website stated. The mural was painted on a wall that had demarked the Jewish quarter. The mural was defaced with black paint.

"Racism and anti-Semitism remain a serious problem and an open wound for our society. It is obvious that we must always remain vigilant in order to fight – through the use of historical facts and education – any attempt to revive the ideologies that gave birth to the Holocaust, the nadir of humanity,” the community said.

The vandalism was likewise condemned by the Greek government.

“We express abhorrence for any acts that insult the memory of victims of Nazi atrocities,” the Greek Foreign Ministry said, according to the Greek Reporter website. “We emphasize, yet again, the importance of disparaging racism, hatred and fanaticism, and the need to defend our ethical values.”