The city of Thessaloniki celebrated on Sunday its liberaton from the Nazis on 30 October 1944, but not without acknowledging the 50,000 Greek Jews the city lost to the concentration camps, honouring their memory with a ‘silent apology’ march.
The “Silent Apology March” began in Eleftherias Square, where photographs were presented of the “Black Shabbat” of July 1942, when the Nazi occupiers started shipping the city’s Jewish community to concentration camps for extermination. It then crossed Nikis Avenue and stopped at Agia Sophia Square, where a description of the day of Thessaloniki’s liberation by Giorgos Ioannou was read out. The march then proceeded along the Egnatia Highway to the Thessaloniki University campus and the Jewish Cemetery monument, where poetry was read and songs were sung.
The city’s residents promptly responded to the organisers’ call and took part in the march and the reading of texts and poetry that followed, intended as both an “internal personal apology” and an acknowledgement of the “guilty silence” regarding their absence in the years that followed.
The idea of a “Silent Apology March” was conceived by Thessaly University Professor Philippos Oreopoulos.
“The idea was born of a contradiction: it is neither a celebration for the liberation of Thessaloniki from the Nazis nor a memorial march for the Holocaust. It is the relationship between the two, which coalesces around the moment when the city is liberated and a great celebration is held on October 30, from which 50,000 Jewish fellow citizens are missing, as Giorgos Ioannou describes,” said Oreopoulos.
The President of the Central Board of Jewish Communities in Greece, David Saltiel, welcomed the effort and the value of ordinary people coming forward to show they remembered, were aware, and would not allow the repetition of an event like the Holocaust.
*Image Credit: INTIME