World Jewish Congress leaders sent a strong message of solidarity to the Jewish community of Greece as they gathered in Thessaloniki on March 17 2013 to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the roundup and deportation of the Jews from this northern Greek city to the Nazi death camps, the European Jewish Press reports.
In presence of Greek prime minister Antonis Samaras and Holocaust survivors, WJC President Ronald S. Lauder urged Greece to take decisive action against the growing neo-Nazi movement Golden Dawn which he called “the new Nazis” and “a threat to democracy.”
On this occasion, Samaras became the first sitting Greek prime minister of the past 100 years to visit a synagogue, the Monastiriotes synagogue of Thessaloniki, as he pledged that his government would do everything to rein in the extremists.
The Greek government would enact legislation that will be “completely intolerant to violence and racism,” he said, noting that with neo-Nazi parties on the rise again in Europe, governments had to “be very careful not to let them gain ground as they did in the 1930s.”
The World Jewish Congress called on Greece to “consider banning political parties, such as the Golden Dawn movement, which pose a serious danger to liberal democracy”. It also called on the European Union to “ensure that political movements that actively espouse a platform of discrimination of ethnic or religious minorities, in contravention of the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights, are dealt with in a coordinated manner in all EU member states that law enforcement authorities receive all necessary support for the protection of citizens against such crimes.”
Bulgaria held ceremonies last week commemorating the 70th anniversary of the prevention of the deportation of Bulgarian Jews to Nazi Holocaust death camps and honouring the memory of the victims from Northern Greece and Yugoslavia.
Bulgaria’s neighbour Macedonia held commemoration ceremonies of its own last week, marking the 70thanniversary of the deportation of about 7000 Jews from its territory to the Nazi death camps.
At ceremonies across the country organised by the Macedonian Jewish community the country remembered the deportations begun in March 1943 which continued over a two-month period.
In all, about 98 per cent of the wartime Jewish population of today’s Macedonia of about 7000 were deported to the Nazi death camps.
(Photo, of the children’s memorial at Yad Vashem in Israel: Talmoryair)