Jewish Graves Defaced in Greece's Second-largest City

Some 12 graves vandalized in Thessaloniki, home to the country's largest Jewish community until it was nearly wiped out during World War II.

Greek nationalists.
Greek nationalists shout slogans during a demonstration in Thessaloniki, Greece, Wednesday, May 28, 2014.AP

Greek authorities say vandals have attacked the Jewish cemetery of Thessaloniki, whose Jewish population was nearly wiped out during World War II.

Police said Friday marble ornaments were smashed off 12 graves, while vandals also tried to remove the tombs' heavy marble covers.

Foreign Minister Evangelos Venizelos promised that police would do "whatever is humanly possible" to arrest the vandals.

David Saletiel, head of the Jewish Community of Thessaloniki, told The Associated Press that a caretaker discovered the "tragic spectacle" early Thursday.

The northern port city, Greece's second-largest, hosted the country's most populous Jewish community until World War II. The community was centuries old. Nazi German occupation forces deported most of its estimated 50,000 Jews to death camps, where about 95 percent perished.

Anti-Semitism remains rife in Greece.