In Melbourne for sister city celebration, Thessaloniki’s mayor Yiannis Boutaris will make a bee line towards the Jewish Holocaust Centre and continue his work on formally recognizing the contribution of the Jewish community of Thessaloniki.
The mayor famously offered an official apology this month and recognised the eradication of the Jewish community and legacy, something he called the “darkest moment in its history”.
Alongside the Ambassador of Greece, Haris Dafaranos, Mr Boutaris will tour the museum and speak to a crowd full of holocaust survivors and members of the Jewish and Greek Australian communities.
The connection will also be analysed by genocide studies scholar Dr Donna-Lee Frieze, who will present testimony footage from a Greek survivor of the Thessaloniki Ghetto.
56,000 Jews were handed to the Germans by Greek officials in Thessaloniki, eradicating 500 years of history of a community group embedded in the second largest Greek city.
“The City of Thessaloniki took an unjustifiably long time to break its silence,” Boutaris said during a ceremony recognising the genocide of the Jews of Thessaloniki.
“Today it can say that it is ashamed of those in Thessaloniki who collaborated with the Germans, those who embezzled their fortunes and those who betrayed Jews who tried to escape.”
Only 2,000 Thessaloniki Jews survived. 90 per cent of the Jews from Thessaloniki that were taken by the Germans were killed after being taken to concentration camps.
On top of the exodus, in 1942, Thessaloniki’s municipal workers destroyed the Jewish cemetery established in 1493 to pave roads, build swimming pools, mansions for the rich and even pave part of the Church of Agios Dimitrios with the marble headstones.
Mr Boutaris wore a yellow Star of David at his most recent mayoral swearing-in ceremony recognise the loss and the failure for Greek authorities to intervene.
While Melbourne marks the 30 year anniversary of the sister city relationship with the Greek city, the Jewish Holocaust Centre also marks its 30 year anniversary since its establishment.
The event at the Jewish Holocaust Centre, 13-15 Selwyn Street, Elsternwick will start at 11:30am on Sunday and is open to all.