Memorial to Kastoria WWII Greek Jewish Victims Defaced

December 27, 2018

In another sign of growing anti-Semitism in Greece, a memorial dedicated to the Greek Jews of the town of Kastoria, in the northern region of West Macedonia, who died in the Holocaust during World War II vandalized on Christmas Day.

Unknown perpetrators sprayed both sides of the marble slab commemorating the event with black paint, the state run Athens News Agency ANA-MPA said.

The Memorial of the Jewish Martyrs of Kastoria, honors the members of the Romaniote Jews who were were rounded up by the German army in March 1944 and sent to Auschwitz-Birkenau.

The slab bears the inscription: “In this place, on March 24 1944, the Nazis gathered the 1,000 Jews of Kastoria and transported them to death camps in Auschwitz. Only 35 survived.”

Kastoria Mayor Anestis Angelis condemned the incident, describing it as shameful, noting Kastorian Jews contributed to the culture and economy of the city, the report said, adding that other media reports said it was restored with the help of local volunteers.

With anti-Semitism in Greece – a country rated among the worst for discrimination – picking up, a noted Holocaust memorial in Thessaloniki, whose Jewish population was essentially wiped out by the Nazis, was defaced for the second time in a year earlier in December.

The work by famed sculptor Nandor Gild, which was finished in 1997 after his death by is son, Daniel, was vandalized with black spray-painted swastikas, the latest hate crime, the Jewish News Syndicate (JNS) reported. The perpetrators have yet to be identified.

The vandalism apparently came during violent anti-government protests on Dec. 17 during which police used tear gas and a water cannon to disperse protesters in a city which before World War II had one of the world’s important Jewish populations.

The Israeli embassy in Athens and the World Jewish Congress condemned the defacing.

“Turning Jews into scapegoats for events that they have absolutely no responsibility for is the absolute expression of anti-Semitism. Such incidents by extreme nationalist circles must be condemned by all and the aggressors must finally be led before justice,” the embassy said, JNS reported.

“It is alarming and disgraceful that a monument honoring the memory of Jews who perished in the Holocaust should become a routine target for those espousing vile expressions of hatred and anti-Semitism,” said WJC CEO and Executive Vice President Robert Singer.

He said the WJC was urging “the authorities in Europe to make good on their Dec. 6 declaration to fight anti-Semitism and develop a common security approach to protect Jewish communities, and to take every possible measure to curb this wave of incitement.”

In January, the sculpture was also vandalized with the words Golden Dawn smeared on the base although the party, whose 15 lawmakers and dozens of members are in the fourth year of a trial on charges of running a criminal gang, didn’t take responsibility.

There were other acts this year, including the monument at Aristotle University in Thessaloniki marking the loss of Jewish students during the war sprayed with blue paint and hate slogans. It also designates the site of an old Jewish cemetery destroyed by the Nazis in 1942, part of the grounds where the school sits.

Only 12 days earlier, red paint was thrown at the Holocaust memorial in central Thessaloniki and the flowers surrounding it were destroyed. A month before that, vandals had destroyed nine marble Jewish tombstones in an Athens cemetery.


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