New York – The Greek General Consulate in New York on Thursday evening hosted an event in the memory of Greek Jews who were killed during the Holocaust. The event included the showing of a documentary depicting the criminal acts carried out by the Nazis as well as testimony provided by survivors.
Speakers at the event included Archbishop of America Dimitrios, Greek General Consul Ekaterini Boura, Kavala MP Yiorgos Kalantzis and Hy Genee, President of the Kehila Kedosha Janina Synagogue.
The 60th Anniversary of Holocaust was also commemorated in Greece. The anniversary also coincides with the establishment of January 27 in Greece as a “Day of Memory” for the Holocaust.
The events for the anniversary began in Thessaloniki on Thursday with a memorial service and the laying of wreaths at the Holocaust Monument. In addition to crowds of local residents and officials, the ceremony was also attended by Israeli Transport Minister Meir Sheetrit, Greek Macedonia-Thrace Minister Nikos Tsiartsionis, Deputy Foreign Ministers Evripidis Stylianidis and Yiannis Valynakis, Thessaloniki Mayor Vassilis Papageorgopoulos, Thessaloniki Prefect Panagiotis Psomiadis, the new United States Ambassador to Greece Charles Ries, German Ambassador in Athens Albert Spiegel and other diplomats.
Amongst the gathered crowd, silent and lost in thoughts and memories, were 12 survivors of the horror in concentration camps like Auschwitz and Treblinka, where an estimated 50,000 Thessaloniki Jews were exterminated by the Nazi regime.
Also present at the events was the President of the World Council of Hellenes Abroad (SAE), Mr. Andrew A. Athens, at the invitation of the Jewish Community of Thessaloniki, David Saltiel.
Mr. Athens attended the memorial service organized at the Holocaust Memorial for the Greek Jews of Thessaloniki, where on behalf of Hellenes of the Diaspora he laid a wreath and addressed the audience. Mr. Athens will also attend the events that will take place at the Concert Hall of Thessaloniki.
“Today, around the world, countless reminders will prompt us to think of the victims of the concentration camps and of those who vanished in World War II. It is only through this constant reminder that we can hope to comprehend the meaning of the Holocaust and feel the redeeming qualities of heroism and sacrifice” Mr. Athens said stressing the fact that nations should band together to pledge that such evil act will never be allowed to happen again.
“We are frequently becoming witnesses to attitudes that trivialize the Nazi menace which many of us, myself included, fought during World War II. In this solemn ceremony, the first commemoration of the National Remembrance Day of the Greek Jews, we call upon our schools, our places of worship, and our other institutions, to teach to the newer generations the History of the Holocaust. We must never forget this and other murderous and inhuman acts of genocide that nations, governments or groups of people have inflicted upon the human race.”
”Germany feels a great shame for nazi crimes in Greece, at Distomo, Hortiatis, Kalavryta,” German Foreign Minister Joska Fischer told an event organised Thursday evening in Thessaloniki by the city’s Jewish community.
Addressing the gathering, the Israeli minister expressed sorrow for a “new voice of anti-Semitism that is being heard in Europe,” indicated that “some have not received the message”. He said that he had come to Thessaloniki to thank the Greek State for establishing a “Day of Memory” for the Holocaust and for efforts to teach the events of that time in schools.
He also noted that Greece was one of few places under German occupation where Christians had hidden and saved many Jews at a risk to their own lives. “Greece is an example of courage and humanity. I came to bring the message that Israel lives, that Jews live,” he added.
A brief address was also made by US Ambassador Charles Ries, while the German Ambassador noted in his speech that “as a representative of the country responsible for the Holocaust, I bow in deepest sorrow to the dead”.