On the occasion of this year’s Italian chairmanship of IHRA,the Italian Embassy in Greece, the Municipality of Trikala, the Greek Delegation to IHRA, the Central Board of Jewish Communities in Greece and the Jewish Museum of Greece, with the cooperation and support of the Jewish Communities of Thessaloniki and Trikala, the Italian School of Athens and the Tsitsanis Museum co-organized commemoration events in the city of Trikala from 9-11 November 2018.
The city of Trikala honored its 139 citizens of Jewish faith who perished in the Nazi concentration camps by unveiling a tear-shaped Holocaust Memorial in a ceremony which was attended by Holocaust survivors, diplomatic representatives from 14 IHRA Member Countries, and representatives of Jewish communities from all over Greece.
The three-day event commemorating the Holocaust culminated in the unveiling of a carved symbolic monument. At the entrance of the old Jewish quarter of Trikala a tear formed by railway tracks with an olive in the center calls to mind the long deportation journey that Jews from Trikala and other Greek cities faced aboard the "death trains" on their way to the extermination camps. Only few survived, like 97-year-old Naki Bega, an Auschwitz survivor, and Victor Venouziou, a hidden child, who honored the ceremony with their presence. A marble column stands close to the monument with an inscription in three languages - Greek, Hebrew and English - to remind the city about the character of this Memorial and the duty of the society.
During his speech on Friday 9 November, 2018, at the inauguration ceremony of the exhibition of the Jewish Museum of Greece entitled: "The Holocaust of the Jews of Greece 1941-1944, personal testimonies" at the Tsitsanis Museum, (to remain open till the 17th of November), Mr. Dimitris Papastergiou, Mayor of Trikala, said: "Close to the Lithaios river, the river of oblivion, we keep our memories alive". Mentioning the memorial, the Mayor emphasized the importance and symbolism of these tears for the perished fellow citizens and the important role the monument plays in bringing their memory back to Trikala.
In the same spirit, referring to the responsibility to remember the victims of the Holocaust, were the speeches of Mr. David Saltiel, President of the Central Board of Jewish Communities in Greece and of H.E. Mr. Luigi Marras, Ambassador of Italy to Greece. An emotional speech was also delivered by the President of the Jewish Community of Trikala, Mr. Jakob Venouziou,
The unveiling ceremony started with a memorial service (Ashkavah) held by the Rabbi of Larissa, Mr. Elias Sabetai and religious hymns sung by the choir of the Jewish Community of Thessaloniki. At the end a tribute of a minute of silence was observed and then the Philharmonic band of the Municipality of Trikala played the Greek National Anthem.
During the main event held at the "Athanasios Trigonis" cultural center on Saturday, 10 November, 2018, all speeches addressed to the public focused on the need to stand united against any extremist ideology.
Mr. Dimitris Papastergiou, Mayor of Trikala, Mr. David Saltiel, President of the Central Board of Jewish Communities, H.E. Mr. Luigi Marras, Ambassador of Italy in Greece, Dr. Efstathios Lianos-Liantis, Head of the Greek Delegation to the IHRA and Mr. Mikis Modiano, Vice-president of the Jewish Museum of Greece, addressed the audience.
At that same time an exhibition entitled: "The German Nazi concentration camp of Auschwitz- Birkenau", organized by the Auschwitz - Birkenau State Museum, under the care of the Polish Embassy in Greece, was presented in the entrance hall of the Cultural Center of Trikala. The exhibition will remain open to the public until 17 November.
The main event also included a clip of the film "Kisses to the Children" by Trikala-born director Vassilis Loules which focuses on the rescue of Jewish children by Christian Greeks.
At the end of the evening, the Orchestra of the Municipality of Trikala presented a program of Greek composers based on the theme of the Holocaust.