21st March, 2022, THESSALONIKI – To commemorate the first deportation train with 2,800 Jews from Thessaloniki, 79 years ago, the Jewish Community together with the Municipality, the European March of the Living Network and three local universities organized this Sunday, a joint silent memorial march.
More than 2,000 people led by the Greek President Katerina Sakellaropoulo, the European Commission Vice-President Margaritis Schinas, the mayor of Thessaloniki, Greek officials, Jewish Community leaders and the Director of the European March of the Living network, marched down the same road from the Jewish neighborhood to the Old train station from where they were deported to Auschwitz.
In her address, the Greek President stressed that: “Only if we pass on historical knowledge to the new generations, if we preserve historical memory, if we feel as our own the pain and suffering of the victims, if we understand that the Holocaust is a universal historical heritage, will we equip ourselves against a new onslaught of evil, possibly in another form, but always threatening and abhorrent.”.
Based on that strong commitment, Michel Gourary, the Director of the European March of the Living invited the Greek President to lead a large delegation of Young Greeks to the 2023 March of the Living which will highlight the 80th Commemoration of the deportation and the annihilation of the Jewish Community of Thessaloniki.
Around the same time, a freshly-painted street mural in the western Greek city of Patras was inaugurated and is already drawing renewed attention to the courageous deeds of two “Righteous Among the Nations” heroes who saved Jews during the Holocaust.
The public art display, an initiative of Artists 4 Israel, in partnership with the Combat Antisemitism Movement (CAM), honors two Greek citizens, the late Zakynthos Mayor Loukas Karrer and Metropolitan Dimitrios Chrysostomos, who, at great personal peril, protected all the Jews of Zakynthos after the Nazis occupied the island in 1943.
The mural was painted by Kleomenis Kostopoulos, the creative director of Patras-based Art in Progress. He commented, “Murals are one of the most important forms of contemporary expression and communication in public spaces. Today, more than ever, we must revisit our history in Greece by bringing it to the streets, and putting it in their faces.”
CAM CEO Sacha Roytman Dratwa said: “Even as we commemorate the deportations, we must also remember those Righteous Among the Nations who risked their lives to save Jews during the Holocaust. It is vital that we recognize and increase awareness of the actions of those who stood by the Jewish People to incentivize standing against hate and evil today.”
International March of the Living is the largest annual international Holocaust education program which, until the Coronavirus outbreak in 2020, has taken place in Poland and Israel without interruption, since its inception in 1988. To date, close to 300,000 International March of the Living participants have marched en masse along the 3.2-kilometer path from Auschwitz to Birkenau, in tribute to the greatest loss in the history of the Jewish people and all humanity.