US Ambassador Tsunis condemns vandalism of Holocaust monument in Thessaloniki

George Tsunis

US Ambassador George Tsunis condemned the vandalism of the monument at the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki commemorating the Jewish cemetery the Nazis destroyed in 1942 as 'abhorrent and disgraceful'.

"This unconscionable act desecrates the lives and precious memory of the 50,0000 Jews from Thessaloniki the Nazis murdered during the Holocaust," Tsunis said on a social media post, speaking on behalf of the embassy, the consulate general in Thessaloniki and the American people.

Expressing his support of the Jewish community and people of Greece against such acts of hatred and intolerance, the American ambassador noted, "In this birthplace of democracy, we have a sacred obligation to defend the democratic values that unite our peoples, to preserve the memory of the Holocaust, and remain forever vigilant in our flight against anti-semitism and crimes of hate."

Aristotle University of Thessaloniki Holocaust memorial jewish

A Jewish historical monument on the campus of Aristotle University in Thessaloniki was vandalised with anti-Semitic graffiti on Thursday. The monument, which commemorates a Jewish cemetery on the grounds that had been destroyed by the Nazi regime in 1942, was defaced with a red swastika.

“This act is an insult to the Monument that commemorates the 50,000 Jews of Thessaloniki who were exterminated in the Nazi camps and connects the modern image of the area with its history by reminding everyone the existence, for centuries, of the old Jewish Cemetery which was destroyed by the Nazis and their collaborators in 1942,” the Jewish Community of Thessaloniki said in a recently released statement.

The statement continued, “The immoral act of imprinting swastikas and other symbols associated with the Nazi ideology on the marbles of the monument is also the greatest disrespect and insult to the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, a place of Education, character and conscience formation.”

The vandalism was not limited to a spray-painted swastika. The monument, which has been defiled with anti-Semitic attacks at least four times since it was put in place in 2014, was also marked with a red Celtic Cross, a known white supremacist symbol.

The Central Board of Jewish Communities in Greece described the incident as "hideous" and noted the uptick in antisemitism both in Greece and across the globe.

“With the stain of the horrific Nazi swastika and a fascist-inspired graffiti we bid farewell to 2022, a year during which no incidents of vandalism of Jewish sites were registered in Greece. We condemn the unholy act of the vandals, followers of intolerance and antisemitism that express their hatred and fanaticism through the profanation of the memory of the Salonican Jews. No tolerance to antisemitism!”

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