Greek City of Thessaloniki Remembers Deporting Jews to Auschwitz

Memorial marks 72 years since almost 50,000 Jews from Thessaloniki were sent to their deaths in Nazi extermination camp.

AFP

A Greek city remembered its nearly 50,000 Jews sent to Nazi death camps during World War II.

A memorial marking the 72nd anniversary of the round up and deportation of the Jews of Thessaloniki was held Saturday.

Participants placed flowers on train tracks where the Jews were taken away in cattle cars headed for Auschwitz-Birkenau, the Associated Press reported.

In March 1943, the Nazis began sending Jews in railway convoys to the Auschwitz-Birkenau death camp. By August, 49,000 of the city’s prewar population of 55,000 Jews had been deported. Fewer than 2,000 survived.

The Jewish community of Thessaloniki had been a vital center of Sephardic Jewry for 450 years following the expulsion from Spain. Known as the “Flower of the Balkans,” it was the center of Ladino culture in the region.

There are fewer than 2,000 Jews living in the city of about 800,000 residents today.

The first such memorial was held two years ago, on the 70th anniversary of the deportation.

A man walks past a graffiti dedicated to the Holocaust in the northern port city of Thessaloniki March 15, 2015. . Photo by Reuters