Thessaloniki’s once-thriving Jewish community of over 50,000 was all but decimated by the Nazis, with only a few thousand surviving.
The Jewish Community of Thessaloniki “unequivocally condemned” on Thursday the defacing of a recently-unveiled mural that honors the Greek port city’s Jews and their extermination in Nazi death camps.
“It is unfortunate that 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 constantly remind the events of the Holocaust,” the community said in a statement.
🚨 Appalling: a Jewish mural in Thessaloniki, Greece, has been vandalized. 95% of the city’s 50,000 Jews were murdered by the Nazis.
— American Jewish Committee (@AJCGlobal) March 19, 2021
The mural stretched 38 yards long and over 7 yards high, and was created by the street artist Same84 to remember the tens of thousands of Thessaloniki that were killed during the Holocaust, the Ekathimerini news website reported.
Inspired by wartime photographs, the mural was painted on a wall that had surrounded the city’s Jewish neighborhood. Unknown vandals reportedly smeared the mural with black paint, and restoration efforts have already begun.
“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,” the Jewish community group added.
Thessaloniki’s once-thriving Jewish community of over 50,000 — many of whose ancestors had arrived as refugees from the Spanish Inquisition — was all but decimated by the Nazis, with only a few thousand surviving.
“We express our revulsion toward any action that insults the memory of the victims of Nazi atrocities. Once again, we underscore the need to heap scorn on racism, hatred and fanaticism and to defend our moral principles,” said the Greek Ministry of Foreign Affairs.