Greek political parties, organisations and ordinary citizens on Thursday joined in condemning the vandalism targeting Thessaloniki’s Holocaust Memorial the previous day, in which unknown individuals covered the monument in red paint and destroyed flowers set around it.
The attack was condemned by the city’s Jewish community in an announcement on Thursday, which said that the vandalism of a monument erected in the memory of 50,000 Thessaloniki Jews killed by the Nazis in World War II “should trouble all of Greek society.”
The announcement noted that this was the third attack on the memorial since last December and described it as “another clear sign of the tragic consequences of racism and bigotry”.
The Israeli Embassy condemned the incident, noting that it was “a great insult to the 50,000 Greek Thessaloniki Jews lost in Nazi death camps” and that “such actions by marginal extremist groups must be condemned”. It expressed conviction that Greek authorities were investigating to find those responsible and lead them to justice.
Talking to the Athens-Macedonian News Agency (ANA), the president of the Jewish Community in Thessaloniki David Saltiel said he was “very worried and upset” by the incident and that those responsible had succeeded in their purpose “of demonstrating that racism and anti-Semitism are here”.
“I think that the State should be able to arrest those that commit such acts so that they get the punishment they deserve and we do not allow similar events to take place,” he added.
According to main opposition New Democracy’s shadow justice minister Kostas Karagounis, in statements to ANA’s radio station, “condemnation of such attacks is self-evident” and the state must be strict in dealing with such phenomena “that we should all absolutely oppose.”
The vandalism of the monument was strongly condemned by the Central Macedonia regional authority, the Independent Greeks (ANEL) party but also local residents and visitors to the city.
In a comment on the attack posted on social media, government spokesman Dimitris Tzanakopoulos on Wednesday urged New Democracy to unequivocally condemn the “attack by Fascists” and stop providing “political coverage and legitimacy”, adding that the main opposition had “sown the wind and reaped a whirlwind”.
According to ruling SYRIZA, the attack on the monument damaged Greece’s reputation worldwide and it called on ND leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis to “stop offering political cover to nationalist hatred and violence.”
The attack was attributed to individuals that broke away from a protest march over the name agreement with the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) held in the city on Wednesday.