(JTA) — The Central Board of Jewish Communities in Greece have condemned the vandalizing of a Holocaust Memorial in Salonica.
“Merely a week before the International Holocaust Remembrance Day followers of the Nazi party in Greece stated their presence by desecrating the Holocaust Monument in Thessaloniki with their repulsive signature,” the central board said in a statement, the English-language Greek newspaper Neos Kosmos reported.
On Sunday, hundreds of thousands of Greek citizens, including supporters of the neo-Nazi Golden Dawn Party, rallied in the city against the use of the name Macedonia by the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. Greeks have believed for over two decades that their northern neighbor, which achieved independence in 1991 after the dissolution of Yugoslavia, should change its name, arguing that Macedonia is historically a Greek region.
After the rally, graffiti featuring the Golden Dawn party’s logo was discovered on the city’s Holocaust Memorial. Anti-Semitic leaflets that called Salonica Mayor Yiannis Boutaris a “slave of the Jews” were also found in a city square.
“They did not desecrate just the memory of the 50,000 Jews of Thessaloniki, the 65,000 Jews of Greece, the 6,000,000 Jews of Europe deported and exterminated by the Nazis in the German concentration camps. They desecrated the values of democracy itself, the very civilization of a city, and proved that the remnants of Nazism have still roots in our country. Roots that — if not eradicated by society — might spread even more guiding us again in the darkest period of world history,” the central board’s statement continued.
The memorial erected in Eleftherias Square is a bronze sculpture depicting a menorah with human bodies intertwined into the flames of its candles.
The Salonica municipal council in a statement called the vandalism a “condemnable act that once more illustrates the bigotry and violence of the neo-Nazi ideology,” which needs to be treated with “zero tolerance,” the daily newspaper Kathimerini reported.
The monument was recently vandalized with “Free Palestine” graffiti.