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Vandals desecrated the Jewish cemetery in Thessaloniki

31 May 2014 / 11:05:38  GRReporter
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Early in the morning on 29 May, unknown persons broke into the Jewish cemetery in Thessaloniki, breaking the metal lattice of the fence and smashing pots, columns and marble decorations.

The police have launched an investigation to identify the perpetrators and to establish the reasons for the act.

The Jewish community in the city as well as Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Evangelos Venizelos strongly condemned the acts of vandalism.

President of the Jewish community in Thessaloniki David Saltiel stated for Athens News Agency, "It is a pity for a cemetery to be desecrated by unknown persons. This fact makes us very sad. I have no words to describe a person capable of doing such a thing."

Saltiel spoke about "disgusting actions insulting the memory of the members of the Jewish community and vilifying the image of the city both in the country and abroad."

Nevertheless, Saltiel believes that the desecration of the cemetery was an isolated incident, not relating to the cases of anti-Semitism in Europe, the most recent of which was the attack at the Jewish Museum in Brussels, which took the lives of three people, including two Israeli tourists.

For his part, Deputy Prime Minister Evangelos Venizelos said, "This is a disgusting act that offends the memory not only of the Jewish community but also of the entire Greek people." He also added, "I ​​want to assure the citizens, and especially the Jewish community, that the Greek authorities will do everything necessary to identify and apprehend the perpetrators of this disgusting act of anti-Semitism and intolerance which is incompatible with the democratic values ​​of tolerance and cultural diversity that are typical of Greek society."

The old Jewish cemetery of Thessaloniki had an area of ​​about 300,000 square metres in the region of today's Aristotle University of Thessaloniki. However, as it was situated almost in the city centre, preventing its development, an area of 12,500 square metres was ceded in favour of the University in 1937 and the mortal remains were removed and transferred to the new cemetery that was granted to the Jewish community in Stavroupoli. Shortly after the capture of Thessaloniki by the Germans in 1941, a group of citizens, including members of the City Council, asked the Nazis to expropriate the entire area of ​​the cemetery. Their request was readily accepted and the graves were destroyed and looted.

Some of the marble slabs covering the graves in the old cemetery were moved to the new one, where there is a monument to the victims of the Holocaust.

Tags: Jewish cemeteryVandalsJewish communityHolocaust
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