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Greek metropolis marks eightieth anniversary of Auschwitz prepare convoy

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THESSALONIKI, Greece — Greece’s second-largest metropolis, Thessaloniki, commemorated on Sunday the eightieth anniversary of the departure of the primary prepare convoy for the Auschwitz camp.

Officers, led by President Katerina Sakellaropoulou, marched from Eleftherias (“Freedom”) Sq., the place members of the town’s Jewish group have been rounded up by the German occupying forces, to the town’s {Old} Practice Station, the place they laid pink carnations on the tracks. Some marchers held a banner studying “Thessalonki Auschwitz 80 years: By no means once more” and white balloons carrying the identical slogan have been launched.

The primary prepare carrying Jewish individuals departed from the station, which is now a freight terminal, on March 15, 1943; the final one, on Aug. 7 that yr. Most Jews, greater than 48,000 of them, have been despatched to the Auschwitz II-Birkenau sub-camp, the place virtually all have been instantly gassed. One other 4,000 have been despatched to Treblinka and a smaller quantity to Bergen Belsen. About 90% of a once-thriving group, most of them descendants of Sephardic Jews who fled Spain after 1492, perished within the Holocaust.

“Thessaloniki has acknowledged its a part of the accountability” within the destiny of the Jewish group, Sakellaropoulou stated. Thessaloniki, as soon as a part of the Ottoman Empire, was captured by Greece in 1912, and relations between the Greek and Jewish communities have been typically uneasy. The strain was exacerbated by the arrival, after 1922, of ethnic Greeks fleeing Asia Minor following Greece’s defeat in a three-year battle with Turkey. The brand new impoverished refugees noticed Thessaloniki’s Jews, a lot of them profitable professionals, as remnants of the hated Ottoman Empire.

European Fee Vice President Margaritis Schinas stated that, similar to the Nuremberg courtroom administered justice after World Battle II, “The Hague (courtroom) awaits those that assume they’ll play historical past’s executioners.”

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Schinas additionally made reference to preparations to arrange a European community of places related to the Holocaust.

David Saltiel, head of Greece’s Central Jewish Council and vp of the World Jewish Congress, expressed his satisfaction {that a} long-planned Holocaust Museum in Thessaloniki will quickly be prepared.

The Israeli authorities was represented by Science and Expertise Minister Ofir Akunis, who talked about that his paternal grandparents left Thessaloniki in 1944, the yr the town was liberated from the Germans. Akunis was one of many featured audio system on the ceremony, together with Yaakov Hagoel, chairman of the World Zionist Group.

Among the many attendees was 75-year-old Shlomo Sevy, each of whose mother and father have been among the many uncommon Auschwitz survivors. He stated his father had advised him “’don’t ask how we stayed alive,’” he advised The Related Press.

There are actually solely about 1,200 Jews dwelling in Thessaloniki, as soon as dwelling of Europe’s largest Jewish group known as the “Jerusalem of the Balkans.” Smaller Jewish populations in different Greek cities have been additionally closely affected by the Holocaust, however to not the identical extent. In Athens, particularly, many Jews handed themselves off as Christians, with the help of the native inhabitants.


Demetris Nellas reported from Athens.

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