Visiting Greece, Israeli President to Lay Cornerstone for Thessaloniki Holocaust Museum

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Alexis Tsipras and Reuven Rivlin. Athens, January 29, 2018.
Alexis Tsipras and Reuven Rivlin. Athens, January 29, 2018.Credit: Petros Giannakouris

President Reuven Rivlin has met with Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras during a visit to Greece that will include a foundation stone-laying ceremony for a Holocaust museum.

Rivlin also met with his Greek counterpart, Procopis Pavlopoulos, in the capital on Monday. On Tuesday, Rivlin and Tsipras will travel to the northern city of Thessaloniki for the museum ceremony.

The new museum will be built on a symbolic spot, next to the railway station from which trains took Jews from Thessaloniki to the Nazi extermination camps.

Greece's 55,000-strong Jewish population was deported by Nazi forces during World War II. Over 80 percent of them were murdered in German concentration camps. Today, the Jewish population in Greece numbers fewer than 5,000 people.

David Saltiel, the president of the Jewish Community in Greece, expects the museum to be built by the end of 2019. According to the preliminary plans, it will be a six-story metal-and-glass building, which will offer a deep insight both in the known and unknown pages of Jewish history in Greece.

On Holocaust Remembrance Day, the Greek Foreign Ministry announced that, "the Greek will never forget the heinous crimes perpetrated against the Greek Jews," and emphasized the importance of the new museum in the "ongoing effort to redress historical injustices."

The ministry's announcement also said that "Greece unequivocally condemns all forms of anti-Semitism."

The Holocaust memorial in Thessaloniki was vandalized a week before the Holocaust Remembrance Day. Despite his tight schedule, Rivlin specifically requested that his itinerary should include visiting the memorial.

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