Greece was this year’s guest of honor at the international educational programme of the “March of the Living”, organized every year, since 1988, in Memory of the victims of the Holocaust. The March of the Living started on the 2.5.2019 at the central camp of Auschwitz and ended at Birkenau, where millions of people have been exterminated, being victims of Nazi atrocities. Thousands of people from, not less than fifty seven different countries, including the Hellenic Parliamentary Delegation, have walked the distance of these almost three kilometers that separate the two camps, were the victims languished Nazi ferociousness.
Mr. Nikos Voutsis, President of the Hellenic Parliament, Mr. David Saltiel, President of the Central Board of Jewish Communities in Greece and the Jewish Community of Thessaloniki and Vice-President of the World Jewish Congress (WJC), Mr. Samuel Makis Matsas, President of the Jewish Museum of Greece, Mr. Gabriel Negrin, Rabbi of Athens, Dr. Efstathios Lianos Liantis, Special Secretary for Religious and Cultural Diplomacy, Special Envoy on Combating Antisemitism and Preserving Holocaust Remembrance of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and Head of the Greek Delegation to the IHRA, Mr. Marcel Solomon, President of the Jewish Community of Volos, were the participating members of the Greek delegation. The Ecumenical Patriarch, His All Holiness Mr. Bartholomew was leading the “March of the Living” together with Mr. Voutsis. They were accompanied by the Vice-speakers of the Parliament, Messrs. George Varemenos, Anastasia Christodoulopoulou and Marios Georgiades, by Members of the Parliament, by the Chairman of the Town Council of Thessaloniki Mr. Shimon Ben Sasson, the Vice mayor of Thessaloniki, Mrs. Anna Angelidou, by the Director of the Office of the World Jewish Congress in Geneva, Mr. Leon Shaltiel, by the Director of the Charity Organization AGAPE, Mr. Manolis Toufexis and by a delegation of the Greek Jewish Youth.
During the event, several special references were made on the almost unmitigated extermination of the Jewish Community of Thessaloniki, the “Jerusalem of the Balkans”, as the city was denominated during its blooming era, being one of the oldest Jewish Communities in the world. The history of the Jews of Thessaloniki was presented through a short video which inter alia mentioned a unique example: the rescue of all the Jews of Zakynthos during the Holocaust.
The moment of the lighting of the fifth torch, in the memory of the six million Jews perished in the Holocaust and specially in the memory of the members of the Resistance that struggled for the liberation of Europe, by the Speaker of the Parliament, the President of the Central Board of the Jewish Communities in Greece and the Chairman of the Town Council of Thessaloniki was extremely touching.