Greek, Israeli Leaders Lay First Stone of Thessaloniki Holocaust Museum

Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras and visiting Israeli President Reuven Rivlin laid the foundation stone for a Holocaust Museum in Thessaloniki on Tuesday.

“Thessaloniki’s Holocaust Museum is a tribute to the thousands of Greek Jews exterminated in concentration camps,” Tsipras said.

“It emphasizes that nothing and no one was forgotten. A constant reminder of the dangers of fascism, Nazism, anti-Semitism and racism, for generations to come.”

The museum will be built in an area with great symbolism, very near the old railway station used during the Nazi occupation to deport Jews to the concentration camps.

Over 55,000 Jews of Thessaloniki, members of a thriving community in many sectors, were murdered in the Nazi camps.

The museum will be funded by the German foreign ministry and the Stavros Niarchos Foundation.

David Saltiel, the president of the Jewish Community in Greece, told Israeli paper Haaretz he expects the museum to be built by the end of 2019.

According to the preliminary plans, it will be a six-story metal-and-glass building, which will offer a deep insight both in the known and unknown pages of Jewish history in Greece.

Rivlin will also lay a wreath at the Holocaust Monument in Eleftherias Square and afterwards he will visit the archaeological site and the museum in Vergina.

In December, Mayor of Thessaloniki Yannis Boutaris also announced his plans to build a Jewish school in the Baron Hirsch neighbourhood, the city’s old Jewish quarter.

Outrage erupted earlier this month with the vandalism of the city’s Holocaust memorial.

The words ‘Golden Dawn’ — the name of a Greek far-right party — were daubed on the base of the sculpture which commemorates the 55,000 Jewish residents of the city who were deported by the Nazis.

Over 90 percent of these deportees were eventually killed.


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