Minister of State of the Federal Republic of Germany, Mr. Michael Roth, visited the Jewish Community of Thessaloniki. Before he arrived at the offices of the Jewish Community he laid a wreath at the Holocaust Monument, honouring the memory of the 50 000 Jews of Thessaloniki who were exterminated by Nazis.
Minister Roth had an extensive meeting with the President of the Jewish Community of Thessaloniki and of the Central Board of Jewish Communities in Greece, Mr. David Saltiel, the Mayor of Thessaloniki Mr. Konstantinos Zervas and the President of the Holocaust Museum of Greece Mr. Yiannis Boutaris.
The meeting was also attended by the Vice-President of the Board of the Jewish Community of Thessaloniki and member of the Excutive Board of the Holocaust Museum of Greece Mr. Lazaros Sefiha, the Secretary of the Board of the Jewish Community of Thessaloniki Mrs. Hana Pinto, the Consul General of the Federal Republic of Germany in Thessaloniki Ms. Sibylla Bendig, the Director of the Office of the Minister of State, Mr. Markus Teglas and the member of the Office of the Minister of State, Department for Bilateral Relations between EU Countries, Mr. Maximilian Spinner,
Mr. Roth, was briefed in detail about the issues and recent developments regarding the Holocaust Museum of Greece, as well as the next steps that must be taken with the collaboration of all the stakeholders involved and re-affirmed the willingness of the Federal Republic of Germany to contribute and support the project.
After the meeting, Mr. Saltiel emphasized the excellent atmosphere of the meeting and his strong belief that with the continuous support of the Federal Republic of Germany, the Greek Government, the Stavros Niarchos Foundation, the Municipality of Thessaloniki, and the Jewish Community this important initiative for Thessaloniki and Greece will proceed in a fast and effective manner.
He also underlined that according to a law that was recently passed by the Greek Parliament, the Greek Government identified the Community as the entity that should undertake the responsibility for the construction of the Holocaust Museum of Greece and the need for the establishment of a non-profit Greece-based institution after the completion of the construction of the project, which would oversee the operation of the Museum.
Mr. Saltiel stressed that he is optimistic that the construction of the Holocaust Museum of Greece will begin in 2021.
Mr. Roth stated: “We are here today, remembering the victims of the Holocaust in Thessaloniki, the tens of thousands of men, women and children who were persecuted, deported and murdered by Nazi Germany. The victims and survivors shall never be forgotten. This is my main message. They remind us of our responsibility to fight antisemitism, racism, anti-Gypsyism, homophobia and all other forms of discrimination today. That is why Germany remains committed to supporting the construction of the Holocaust Museum here in Thessaloniki, the construction of which we hope that will begin this year. It is our shared duty to keep alive the horrific memory of Shoah and to encourage our societies and especially the younger generations to commit to a peaceful, liberal, just, democratic and different Europe today.
He expressed his gratitude to the Jewish Community and especially to Mr. Saltiel for their cooperation all these years and made a brief flashback to 2014, when he was first briefed here in Thessaloniki, about the plans of the Community for the construction of the Museum, which he supported from the beginning. “This project is very close to my heart. However, it is not only my personal commitment but also that of the (German) government and many people in my country “. He underlined that we are ready to do everything possible to support our Greek friends, the Jewish Community of Thessaloniki because this is not a regional, a national project, but a European and global project.