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Holocaust memorial vandalized in latest anti-Semitic attack in Greece

People walk to the old railway station in Thessaloniki bearing banners urging "never again" as they remember the city's deported Jews, 75 years on
SAKIS MITROLIDIS (AFP)

A Holocaust memorial was vandalized in Greece's second largest city Thessaloniki, officials said Wednesday, the third anti-Semitic incident since May.

Blue paint was spattered on the memorial remembering thousands of Jews deported by the Nazis during World War II, and a symbol spelling out "Christ the Victor" left on one of the monument's plaques.

A police source said this symbol is popular with Greek and Serb Orthodox nationalist hardliners.

The incident was reported on Tuesday.

The monument was erected in 2014 on the grounds of Aristotle University to highlight that the university was built on the city's Jewish cemetery after it was razed by the Nazis -- a fact largely forgotten by most Greeks today.

The cemetery had originally been created during the Roman era.

In January Israeli President Reuven Rivlin visited Greece and laid a cornerstone for a new Holocaust museum in Thessaloniki, which was home to a vibrant Jewish community before the Second World War.

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At the ceremony, Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras warned against a resurgence of anti-Semitism in Europe.

“We have not forgotten about the perpetrators and we have not forgotten about the victims," he said.

"We are not going to turn a blind eye to the shadows. Unfortunately, there are shadows appearing in Europe, racism is trying again to make impact and monuments are unfortunately again being vandalized."

In June, unknown assailants threw red paint at that same memorial in the city center, after a nationalist protest.

A month earlier, vandals had also smashed headstones in the Jewish section of a cemetery in Athens.

The attacks have been attributed to far-right supporters, including those from neo-Nazi party Golden Dawn, which has been represented in Greece's parliament since 2012 and consistently rank as the third most popular movement in opinion polls.

After conquering Greece in 1941, Nazi Germany deported to extermination camps some 50,000 Jews from Thessaloniki, which at the time was one of the main centers of Judaism in the Balkans.

Anti-Semitism remains prevalent in Greece. Historically there is also strong support for the Palestinian cause despite the government's solid ties with Israel.

(Staff with AFP)

Read more:

Memoir chronicles Jewish survival and Greeks that hid family from the Nazis

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