Holocaust memorial in Athens, Greece.
(photo credit: PROVIDED BY MEMORIAL MANAGEMENT)
Speaking at an event to commemorate Greek Jews murdered in the Holocaust, Greek Ambassador Spyridon Lampridis said that the crimes committed during the Second World War are still relevant today.
“No one has the right to forget or forgive for the capital crime against humanity that was committed over 70 years ago,” Lampridis said on Wednesday night at the memorial evening at Beit Hatfutsot – The Museum of the Jewish People in Tel Aviv.
“Nazism, racism, anti-Semitism and social intolerance have no place in our modern democratic societies. Our states, but also we, individually, as active and responsible citizens, should not and will not tolerate the hatching of the terrible serpent of fascism out of its egg for a second time in Greece, Europe or anywhere else in the world,” he declared.
The event was the first collaborative effort between Beit Hatfutsot and the Jewish Museum of Greece, and included a traveling exhibition on hidden children in Nazi-occupied Greece, and the screening of the award-winning documentary by Vassilis Loules, Kisses to the Children, which features the stories of five children who were hidden by Christian friends and neighbors.
During the Nazi occupation, 200,000 Greeks died – of these 62,000 were Jews out of a community of close to 80,000, said Zanette Battinou, the director of the Jewish Museum of Greece. After the war, only 10,000 Jews were left in Greece. She was proud to say that 320 Greek citizens have been recognized as Righteous among the Nations.
Jews had lived in Greece for nearly 2,000 years, and were joined in large numbers by those expelled from Spain and Portugal in 1492. Of 31 Jewish communities in Greece, only nine remained after the war. Worst hit was Salonika, which lost more than 90 percent of its Jewish population, the highest ratio of any city in Europe, said Greek historian Prof. Varon-Vassar. The Jewish cemetery of Salonika, with more than 300,000 graves, was completely destroyed.
Lampridis urged individuals and nations to join forces “against those criminal few that insult and endanger our principles, our collective memory and history, our fundamental means and desire for leading, decent, free, happy lives.”