Sunday, 25 Feb 2018 - 10 of Adar, 5778

Greek PM and Israeli President lay first stone of Holocaust Museum in Thessaloniki

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

“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.”

Reuven Rivlin and Alexis Tsipras symbolically planted two olive trees on the plot.

Over 55,000 Jews of Thessaloniki were murdered in the Nazi camps. The city lost 97 percent of its Jewish community during World War II.

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.

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, said 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.

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

On Monday, President Rivlin addressed a ceremony marking International Holocaust Remembrance Day, held by the Jewish community in Athens, and with the attendance of Holocaust survivors from the Greek Jewish community, among them; Itzik Mizen, 90, who survived Auschwitz-Birkenau; Frances Hogo, 90, who survived Bergen Belsen; Fortunita Hananel Gani, 91, who survived Auschwitz-Birkenau; and David Moshe, 95, who survived Mauthausen.

Also attending was Greece’s Education and Religious Affairs Minister, and the Speaker of the Greek Parliament.

In his address, Rivlin said that ‘’we are witnessing the return of anti-Semitic, racist and neo-Nazi outlooks, many manifestations of anti-Semitism are once again reverberating around the world, radical movements are gaining strength, the new right-wing parties are winning electoral achievements with the use of anti-Semitic slogans. These things are happening not centuries after Auschwitz, and not in distant lands. They are happening now on European soil, and elsewhere.’’

He stressed that ‘’Jews feel less secure in their countries, there are those who are forced to hide their Jewishness, these are phenomena that should be denounced. We must not give in to anti-Semitism or xenophobia, we must fight anti-Semitism, racism and hatred of every kind. This is the time for public diplomacy and education! Against xenophobia, against racism, and against anti-Semitism.”

The President continued, “Those who enter into an alliance with anti-Semites and anti-Semitism, those who adopt their language, have no part in the family of nations. We must firmly oppose those who hide their anti-Semitism under the guise of delegitimizing the State of Israel. As well as extreme right-wing parties that do not hide their anti-Semitic background, but repeatedly declare that they love the State of Israel. There is no such thing as loving Israelis and hating Jews, or loving Jews, but hating Israelis.”

Earlier, Rivlin met with leaders of the Jewish community, including the President of the Jewish Communities of Greece and Vice President of the World Jewish Congress, David Saltiel, and President of the Athens Jewish Community, Minos Moissis, along with representatives from Jewish communities in Volos, Chalcis, Larissa, Corfu, Kavala, and Trikala.




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