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MEMORIAL UNVEILING IN THE LIANOKLADI TRAIN STATION IN MEMORY OF THE JEWS FORCED TO SLAVE LABOUR IN THE RAILWAYS DURING THE GERMAN OCCUPATION Print E-mail
Friday, 15 October 2021 07:04
An unknown aspect of the occupation and the Holocaust of the Greek Jews came to light with the unveiling of the reconstructed monument for the Jews who were sent by the Nazis to slave labor on the railway network of the Lianokladi-Karya area (Central Greece, Fthiotida region). The unveiling took place at noon on Thursday, October 14, 2021, at the Lianokladi railway station, in the presence of the Minister of Infrastructure and Transport, Mr. Costas Karamanlis. The original Monument -erected in 1988- was probably destroyed during the renovation of the Lianokladi railway station.

The new Monument was rebuilt with the approval and actions of the Hellenic Railways Organization (HRO), and the cooperation of the Central Board of Jewish Communities in Greece (KIS), and was located to a prominent position, at the station dock to remind of the extent of the Nazis’ atrocities. The unveiling began with addresses by the President of the HRO Mr. Spyridon Pateras, the President of KIS Mr. David Saltiel and the Minister of Infrastructure and Transport Mr. Costas Karamanlis, who unveiled the Memorial after a prayer from the Rabbi of Athens, Mr. Gabriel Negrin. The Metropolitan Bishop of Fthiotida H.E. Symeon, also addressed the event.

The HRO President welcomed the officials and stressed that the HRO, with a sense of responsibility towards history, was mobilized for the restoration of the Monument. He mentioned that "the original monument  remained at that point until 2010 when, during the attempt to move it as part of the work under contract 635 of the Tithorea - Domokos section, (because the column was not monolithic) failed. Today, after more than ten years, we are here on a happy occasion, a great railway project which enters its final stage and within that framework, the redevelopment work of the station is completed, in order to reposition the monument and restore the memory of the tragic events of that period and the people who were lost".

His Eminence, the Metropolitan of Fthiotida Mr. Symeon stressed that "the fight against anti-Semitism is a priority for the Church and for me personally", and referred to the actions and educational programs for the Holocaust in which the Church participates with the cooperation of the Secretary General of Religion, Mr. George Kalatzis and of the Jewish Museum of Greece.

The President of KIS, referring to the importance of the Monument, said, among other things: "The cooperation of all of us for the reconstruction of the Monument demonstrates our collective commitment as a society to keep alive the Holocaust Memory, to ensure that the ideology of Nazism will not find fertile ground to poison society again. Apart from a moral debt, the Monument we are unveiling today constitutes an educational project. It is the proof that we mean and support our NEVER AGAIN pledge. "We owe it to the victims of the Holocaust but also to future generations," said Mr. Saltiel.

The Minister of Transport underlined that "It is our duty to honour the memory of our Jewish compatriots. And of course, in our daily lives, it is our duty not to allow any national, religious, racial or other identity to divide us. Everyone proudly bears their identity, but we always respect each other. And all together, we create for the present and the future of our country". The Minister's report on his visit to Yad Vashem at a young age was particularly moving.

The keynote speaker, history researcher Mr. Andreas Assael, in his speech on "The story of the Jews who worked on the forced labour of the Liankladi - Karya railway line ", referred to historical data and concluded by emphasizing: “I hope that the repositioning of the Lianokladi railway station Memorial, is going to be the first step for the recognition of the Karya camp as a place of martyrdom ... We have our own Mauthausen and we do not know it ".

The event was concluded with the laying of wreaths, a minute of silence as tribute to the victims and music by soprano Mariangela Hadjistamatiou, who performed a symbolic Ladino song, written by Auschwitz survivor Moshe Aelion, in memory of his sister. The presence of the descendants of the forced labor survivors on the railway lines of the region, Jacob Karasso and Sam Nachmia was emblematic. The President of KIS, D. Saltiel, personally addressed them during his speech: "… Solon, ​​Berta, Jaco, and Alberto, thank you for giving us the opportunity to reflect on what Memory means and to understand what debt means. We are here to assure you that WE DO NOT FORGET!" Also symbolic was the presence of Mr. Athanasios Chimaras, who in 1988, as the President of the Lianokladi Community, had attended the inauguration of the Monument and today, with emotion, participated in the event for the reconstructed Monument.

The event was also attended by the Ambassador of Israel to Greece Mr. Yossi Amrani, the  Metropolitan Bishop of Fthiotida H.E. Symeon, the Deputy Regional Governor of Fthiotida Mr. Athanasios Karakantzas, Fthiotida MPs Mr. Themis Chimaras and Mr. John Sarakiotis, the Vice Mayor of Lamia Mr. Dimitris Kiritsis, the President of the Eastern Mainland Department of TEE Mr. Athanasios Lykopoulos, the Vice President of the Lianokladi community council Mrs. Georgia Lykotseta and members of the Board, the General Treasurer of KIS Mr. Daniel Benardout, Presidents and representatives of Greece’s Jewish communities, members of the Association of Friends of the Museum of National Resistance, and many locals. Fthiotida MP Mr. George Kotronias sent a message about the event.
 

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