(JTA) — Some 2,000 people held a silent march through the Greek city of Thessaloniki to mark the anniversary of the first Nazi transport of the city’s Jews to Auschwitz.
The marchers ended up at the city’s old railway station — the site where the transport started on March 15, 1943 — carrying white balloons reading “Never Again,” AFP reported. Two Holocaust survivors were honored at the memorial.
Sunday’s march was the largest by far of the commemorations held in recent years, according to the report.
Thessaloniki was a vital center of Sephardic Jewry for 450 years following the Jews’ expulsion from Spain. Known as the “Flower of the Balkans,” the city was the center of Ladino culture in the region.
Fewer than 2,000 of the city’s prewar Jewish population of 55,000 survived the Holocaust.
A marble Holocaust memorial monument on the campus of Aristotle University of Thessaloniki was smashed and broken into several pieces in an act of vandalism in January. It also was vandalized twice last summer.
Unveiled in 2014, the monument commemorates the city’s historic Jewish cemetery, on which the university is built, and is dedicated in memory of the Jewish students who were killed in Nazi death camps.