Tombstones from a Nazi-destroyed cemetery are returned to the Jewish community of Thessaloniki

Marble headstones from the former Jewish cemetery destroyed by the Nazis in Thessaloniki have been returned to the Jewish community. At a ceremony on Tuesday, local political and archaeological authorities handed over the tombstones to David Nahmias, a representative of the Jewish community of Thessaloniki.

Tombstones from the early 20th century and an important element of the cultural heritage of the city in northern Greece were discovered during excavations to create a capital park in the suburb of Pavlos Melas.

The destruction of the Jewish cemetery in Thessaloniki and the disgusting looting of the dead Jews of our city took place in December 1942 by the then occupying German troops“, the municipality of Pavlos Melas said in a statement.

In the area of ​​the current university campus (Panepistimioupolis), one of the darkest and saddest pages of the modern history of Thessaloniki was written in those dark days. Hundreds of thousands of tombs and funerary monuments were destroyed, leaving the bodies of the dead exposed. The materials from the ruined cemetery, especially the marble, were then used as building material in several of the city’s projects, and this is how they ended up in [бывшем военном] small town“, the message says.

The mayor of Pavlos Melas, Dimitris Demurtsidis, said that “the Jewish cemetery turned into a huge area with destroyed tombstones and scattered bones of the dead, followed by looting. The Germans built a pool of gravestones from the cemetery, and hundreds of them went to build roads and squares. Any passer-by could take as many tombstones as they wanted to renovate their home or level their yard, as the cemetery had been turned into a building material dump“.

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