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Tuesday, 09 February 2016 10:52

Greece commemorates officially the 27th of January as the Holocaust Remembrance Day since 2004, with the Greek Parliament’s unanimous vote.

Commemoration events, cultural and educational activities are being held on annual basis under the auspices of the regional authorities (prefectures) in Athens, Thessaloniki, Larissa, Volos and Ioannina in coordination with the respective Jewish Communities. Apart from customary wreath laying ceremonies at Holocaust memorials, this year’s events have included a special hearing at the Greek Parliament, which was held for the first time as a tribute to the Holocaust victims, as well as a number of educational and cultural activities:

In ATHENS events started in the morning of the 27th of January 2016 with the unveiling ceremony of the Monument dedicated to the Greek Righteous Among the Nations. The monument, which includes the names of the 328 Greek righteous who helped Jews escape deportation, is placed on the courtyard of the Synagogue of Athens, and it was unveiled by the President of the Hellenic Republic. 

At noon a special commemoration ceremony took place in the Greek Parliament attended by Holocaust survivors and Greek Jewish leaders. It was addressed by the Speaker of the Parliament Nikos Voutsis and the Minister of Education Nikos Filis.

 In the evening, the main event took place at the theatre of the Cultural Centre Hellenic Cosmos. The Israeli author Dr Michal Govrin, and the Metropolitan Bishop of Nea Ionia Gavril were the key speakers of the event which was addressed by the Prefect Rena Dourou, Isaac Mizan an Auschwitz survivor as well as the Athens Jewish Community President Minos Moissis and the President of the Central Board of Jewish Communities in Greece Moses Constantinis.

An exhibition of historic and photographic documents from the archives of the Jewish Museum of Greece (JMG) and Yad Vashem was on show at the foyer of the theatre. 

Cultural events in Athens:

- A JMG exhibition entitled Hidden Children in Occupied Greece was inaugurated on the 25th January 2016 and will be on show at the Jewish Museum of Greece in Athens until the 23rd May 2016.

- A JMG artistic exhibition of painter Artemis Alkalai, dedicated to the Greek Jewish Holocaust Survivors, will be presented at the Spanish Cervantes Cultural Institute in Athens until March 2016.

Books: On the 27th of January, the Greek Ministry of Foreign Affairs released its new publication entitled “The Greek Righteous Among the Nations” (Militos editions) edited by Ambassador Photini Tomai Director of the Historic and Diplomatic Archive of the Foreign Ministry.

On the occasion of the Greek edition of the book “The seven dwarves of Auschwitz” (Pigi editions) by Yehuda Koren and Eilat Negev, the Embassy of Israel in Athens organized a book presentation, which brought to light another  aspect of the Holocaust history.  

In THESSALONIKI a series of events were held from the 26th of January to  the 3rd of February 2016.

- On January 26, author Boualem Sansal was the guest of honour at a book presentation at the French Institute on the occasion of the Greek edition of his book The German Mujahid and the diary of the Schiller brothers”.

-On January 30, on the initiative of the MPs of SYRIZA of Thessaloniki, an event took place at the Municipality of Thessaloniki, honouring the memory of the Jewish Parliamentarians who perished during the Holocaust. Historians and University professors addressed the event. 

- On January 31, the main commemoration event was held at the Holocaust Memorial of Thessaloniki. Renowned film director Manousos Manousakis, creator of the Greek film “Ouzeri Tsitsanis” (on the Holocaust of the Jews of Thessaloniki) was the key speaker. Addresses were delivered by the local Prefect Apostolos Tzitzikostas, the Mayor of Thessaloniki Giannis Boutaris and the representative of the Government, deputy FM Giannis Amanatidis, as well as the President of the Thessaloniki Jewish Community David Saltiel and the President of KIS Moses Constantinis.

- On February 1st, the “Jewish Legacy App” -an application for smartphones and tablets- was presented to the public in a ceremony at the Municipality. The app presents the city’s Jewish heritage and sites of Jewish interest and it is useful to tourists as well as to the city’s population.

- On February 3rd, a presentation of the Greek edition of the book “Hannah never closes her eyes” by Luigi Ballerini, along with the screening of the documentary film on the “Jews of Thessaloniki”, created by Dimitris Sofianopoulos, were presented at a special event hosted at the Cultural Centre of the Jewish Community of Thessaloniki.

In LARISSA the commemoration events were held on the 28th and the 29th of January 2016. The first event took place at the Synagogue and then at the Holocaust Memorial included speeches by the Prefect of Thessalia Kostas Agorastos  and the Larissa Mayor Apostolos Kalogianis.  The poems awarded at a poetry contest on the theme of the Holocaust of Greek Jews (held in 2015, organized by the European Art Center) were recited during the event.

The second day of events was dedicated to Education and the regional Directorate of Education has collaborated for the realization of the programme. Commemoration events were held at Anne Frank’s Square in Larissa –the only relevant site in Greece dedicated to Anne Frank- with the participation of three High Schools of Larissa and the local elementary Jewish School.

In IOANNINA the event was held on the 29th of January at the Cultural Center of the Municipality of the city. History professor and author Hagen Fleischer was the main speaker at the event who focused on the “Greek and German distortions in the historiography of the genocide of the Greek Jews”. Addresses were made by Mayor Thomas Begas and the President of the Ioannina Jewish Community Moses Elisaf. The event was concluded with a concert of Jewish romaniote and sephardic songs.

In VOLOS the Holocaust commemoration events were held on the 7th of February. 

The main event started at the Holocaust Memorial and was concluded at the Cultural Centre of the Metropolitan Church of Demetrias. The Prefect of Thessalia Agorastos, the Metropolitan Bishop of Demetrias Ignatios, the Jewish Community President Marcel Solomon and University professor Giannis Panoussis addressed the event. There was also a screening of a documentary, entitled “The song of Life” by Tony Likouresis, which narrates the story of the Jews of island of Zante who were saved during the Holocaust thanks to the actions of the local Bishop and the Mayor at the time.
A choir performing classic Jewish hymns and Sephardic songs concluded the event. Following the Bishop’s closing remarks a banner reading “Never Again: Anti-Semitism = Anti-Christianism” was unfolded on the stage.


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