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Greece Condemns Vandalism of Thessaloniki’s Jewish Mural

Jewish mural vandalized in Thessaloniki
Jewish mural vandalized in Thessaloniki. Credit: AMNA

Greece condemned on Thursday the vandalism of a street mural in Thessaloniki which depicts the extermination of the city’s Jews in Nazi camps.

Earlier this week, Thessaloniki marked the anniversary of the departure in 1943 of the first train taking members of the city’s thriving Jewish community to the Auschwitz death camp.

“We express abhorrence for any acts that insult the memory of victims of Nazi atrocities,” said the Foreign ministry about the defacement of the Holocaust mural, on the east wall of the new railway station in Thessaloniki.

“We emphasize, yet again, the importance of disparaging racism, hatred and fanaticism, and the need to defend our ethical values.”

The Jewish Community of Thessaloniki also condemned the vandalism of the mural on Michael Kalou Street.

The mural was created by the “Vardaris Neighborhood Team” of the Self-Help Promotion Program of the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki under the direction of the “UrbanAct” art collective.

“It is unfortunate that only 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 to constantly remind the events of the Holocaust,” said the Jewish community.

The community also observed that that “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”, it concluded.

Meanwhile, members of the “Vardaris Neighborhood Team” substances rehabilitation group have already started restoring the mural, which was drawn by street artist “Same84” with support from Action Aid Hellas.

“Acts like this do not honor our city’s culture and history, and are characteristic of the ignorance, lack of education and racism of some of our fellow citizens”, the group said in a statement.

The defacing of the mural is being reportedly investigated by police.

Thessaloniki Jews sent to Auschwitz

Earlier this week, Thessaloniki marked the anniversary of the departure in 1943 of the first train taking members of the city’s thriving Jewish community to the Auschwitz death camp.

Thessaloniki had a population of more than 50,000 Jews before World War II — some 46,000 of whom were deported and killed at German Nazi death camps.

“Thessaloniki remembers this day. It is a day that no one has forgotten”, says the mayor of Thessaloniki, Konstantinos Zervas.

“On this day in 1943, a train with 2,400 Thessaloniki’s Jews started from here bound for faraway Poland. A death train with passengers who did not know where they were being led, who did not know that they had no return”, Zervas stated in his remarks.

“Today, 78 years later, it is our moral duty to keep this memory alive,” he added.

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