The Greek city of Thessaloniki remembered its nearly 50,000 Jews sent to Nazi death camps during World War II. A memorial marking the 72nd anniversary of the roundup and deportation of Thessaloniki Jews was held Saturday, ahead of March 15th, the day when the first Jewish convoy left the city.
Participants placed flowers on train tracks where the Jews were taken away in cattle cars headed for Auschwitz-Birkenau, The Associated Press reported.
In March 1943, the Nazis began sending Jews in railway convoys to Auschwitz-Birkenau. By August, 49,000 of the city’s prewar population of 55,000 Jews had been deported. Fewer than 2,000 survived.
Thessaloniki had been a vital center of Sephardic Jewry for 450 years following the expulsion from Spain. Known as the “Flower of the Balkans,” it was the center of Ladino culture in the region, writes JTA.
Fewer than 2,000 Jews are living in a city of about 800,000 residents today.
The first such memorial was held two years ago, with the participation of the World Jewish Congress and then PM Antonis Samaras, on the 70th anniversary of the deportation.