Published : 2013-12-23 19:16
Updated : 2013-12-23 19:16
THESSALONIKI, Greece (AFP) ― Greece’s second-largest city Thessaloniki unveiled plans on Friday to build a Holocaust museum to honor some 46,000 Jewish residents deported and killed at German Nazi death camps during World War II.
“This is the fulfillment of a historic responsibility for Thessaloniki,” said Yiannis Boutaris, mayor of the city once known as the “Jerusalem of the Balkans.”
The museum will be created at the old railway station where the trains left Greece’s northern city for the notorious Auschwitz camp in Nazi occupied Poland starting on March 15, 1943.
Thessaloniki, a multicultural city that served as a link between the Balkans and the East and had a population of more than 50,000 Jews before World War II, today is home to only about 1,000 Jews.
More than 1 million people, mostly European Jews, perished at Auschwitz-Birkenau, operated by Nazi Germany from 1940 to 1945.
The 10,000 square-meter Holocaust museum is expected to be completed in 2020.
The museum will be built in a country that today is concerned about the rise of Greek neo-Nazi party Golden Dawn, which is Greece’s third most popular party despite an ongoing criminal investigation into its leadership.
Golden Dawn leader Nikos Michaloliakos and a number of his fellow lawmakers have been indicted following the murder of an anti-fascist musician by a neo-Nazi supporter in September.
For the first time in Greek political history, the party elected 18 deputies to the country’s 300-seat parliament last year, capitalizing on the country’s economic crisis and anger towards unchecked immigration.