Thessaloniki Mayor Vows to Protect City’s Jewish Heritage



Jewish cemetery in Thessaloniki damaged by vandals in late January

Thessaloniki Mayor Yiannis Boutaris said Friday that Jewish monuments will continue to be repaired no matter how many times they are vandalized.

“Even if they vandalize the monuments one hundred times we will repair them one hundred and ten times,” Boutaris declared.

The mayor’s comments come after the vandalism of a Jewish monument and cemetery in the city in late January. Its marble slabs, featuring writing in Hebrew, were shattered by an unknown group of vandals.

The most recent act of vandalism, which took place two days before International Holocaust Remembrance Day, was the third time the monument had been defaced. A prior act of desecration occurred just last summer, in July of 2018, when a swastika was spray-painted on the monument.

The monument commemorates the large historic Jewish population of the city which was wiped out during the Holocaust.

Boutaris’ proposal for a 24-hour police guard at the monuments of the city was rejected by the Jewish community leadership.

According to David Saltiel, president of the Central Board of Jewish Communities in Greece and the Jewish community of Thessaloniki, “the monuments should not be guarded, as that would be a disgrace for the city.”

“The monuments were made to remind us of history. They cannot have a policeman next to them. All that can be done is to have lighting and better management,” Saltiel said.