Jewish Greek community ‘dismayed’ after local cemetery vandalised

Jewish Greek community ‘dismayed’ after local cemetery vandalised

Tombstones smashed in Trikala, a city which saw Prince William's great-grandmother, Princess Alice, save several Jews during the Holocaust by hiding them from the Nazis

One of the smashed tombstones. Picture: Central Board of Jewish Communities in Greece
One of the smashed tombstones. Picture: Central Board of Jewish Communities in Greece

The Central Board of Jewish Communities in Greece has expressed “its dismay of the entire Greek Jewry” after an attack at a Jewish cemetery.

Unidentified individuals carried out the act at Trikala, a city in central Greece located about 150 miles northwest of Athens. Smashing eight tombstones, including those of the local communal leader, the Central Board of Jewish Communities in Greece called on authorities to do everything it can to arrest the perpetrators, in a statement on Friday.

It said: “We strongly condemn the vandal attack that once more occurred against the Jewish cemetery of Trikala.

“More specifically, followers of racism and antisemitism vandalised and destroyed eight tombs and tombstones – among which the two graves of the parents of the President of the Jewish Community of Trikala.

“Following the lawsuit against persons unknown, pressed by the Jewish Community of Trikala, the Central Board of Jewish Communities in Greece calls upon law enforcement authorities to take all necessary measures for the arrest of the perpetrators and the protection of the city’s Jewish cemetery, which – apart from its sacred nature – reflects the historic course of the Jewish presence in Trikala.

“We believe that the municipal authorities together with the society of Trikala will not allow the followers of hatred to harm the harmonious coexistence of all the citizens of Trikala, regardless of skin color, race or religion.”

Trikala was the scene of one of the Nazi force’s most thorough liquidations of any large Jewish community, with only 10 people surviving the Holocaust from a community of hundreds of members. Of those, several were rescued thanks to Princess Alice, the great-grandmother of Britain’s Prince William, who was living in the Athens region at the time.

In September of 1943, members of the Cohen family from Trikala appealed to her for help. She hid several relatives until the Nazis withdrew in October 1944.

The Jewish community of Trikala complained to police about the desecration and urged authorities to bring the culprits to justice.

Robert Singer, the CEO and executive vice president of the World Jewish Congress, said in a statement that the deed: “Is an inexcusable and direct attack against the Jewish community, which must be condemned at the highest levels.”

In Greece today, he added, “such vile demonstrations of hatred and opposition have sadly become commonplace, against both Jews and other minorities. We cannot and must not tolerate such injustice.”

A Jewish cemetery in Nikaia near Athens that was desecrated with neo-Nazi symbols in May, two years after unknown individuals smashed several marble headstones there.

The Jewish cemetery in Trikala was also desecrated once before, the local community wrote.

The city has some of Greece’s oldest tombstones, some erected more than 450 years ago.

Before the war, the Community maintained three synagogues. The largest was used as a stable by the Germans. It was the only one which was still standing at the end of the war and functions to this day, according to the Jewish Museum of Greece. Today, the Community has about 40 members.

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