The foundation of the Holocaust Museum will contribute to preserve the commemoration of the Holocaust, prime Minister Alexis Tsipras said on Thuersday as he unveiled a plaque for the Museum together Israeli counterpart Benjamin Netanyahu.
The prime minister noted that “the establishment of the Museum aims to safeguard and hand over the historic memory of pain and ordeal of Thessaloniki Jews to the next generations.”
“At the same time, it constitutes a promise that the peoples around the world will resist now and in the future to anything that will threaten the freedom, the dignity and the human life, Tsipras added.
Benjamin Netanyahu stressed the importance of the city of Thessaloniki to the Jewish history. “the Museum is significant for two reasons: memory and prevention,” he said.
The Holocaust Museum in Thessaloniki aims to be the ‘voice’ of the 50,000 Jews of the city who were displaced and exterminated in the concentration camps during the Second World War. It was 96 percent of the members of the Jewish community in Thessaloniki.
The Museum will be erected in the premises of the old train station of the city, there where the victims of the Nazi atrocities began their last journey.
The total cost is expected to be a little over 20 million euros. Part of the funding will be provided by the German state, part from Stavros Niarchos Foundation.
The Holocaust Museum will include also an education center. The land plot was donated by the Greek railway company. It needed a Presidential decree to change the use of the land plot.
The construction is expected to be concluded by 2019.
Although there a signs that Jews had settled in Ancient Greek territory, the large wave came from the end of the 14th century, when Jewish refugees emigrated from Spain and Portugal to the Greek mainland and adjacent islands. Mainly in Thessaloniki, the Jews known as the Shephardim introduced their own language (Judeo-Espagnol) and customs. During the 16th-18th centuries, Thessaloniki had one of the largest Jewish communities in the World and a solid rabbinical tradition.
The plaque unveiled today will be later laid at the Museum. Tsipras invited Netanyahu for a joint inauguration.