During a visit to Thessaloniki, U.S. Ambassador to Greece Geoffrey Pyatt said that the plan to build the city’s Holocaust Museum is an extremely important initiative for Greece, considering the key role that the Jewish community has played in the city’s history.
The ambassador was speaking at the Jewish Museum in Thessaloniki, where he was briefed on the construction work’s progress by David Saltiel, the president of both the Central Board of Jewish Communities in Greece and the city’s Jewish community, and by Yiannis Boutaris — former city mayor and president of the Board of Directors of the Thessaloniki Holocaust Museum Foundation.
The U.S. Consul General in Thessaloniki, Gregory Pfleger, also attended the meeting.
Speaking to Athens-Macedonian News Agency (ANA-MPA), Pyatt said he was pleased that Deputy Prime Minister Panagiotis Pikrammenos had taken a leading role in the project and expressed confidence for what he called a potentially very strong cooperation between the Holocaust Museum in Washington and the forthcoming museum in Thessaloniki.
Construction commenced on the new Holocaust Museum in Greece’s second largest city in 2018.
For more than 400 years, Thessaloniki had a thriving Jewish population, which greatly impacted the city’s identity and culture.
Prior to World War II, Jews made up a quarter of the city’s population. But during the Holocaust, 97 percent of the community died in Nazi concentration camps.
The museum will house a memorial to the Jews who were murdered and exhibitions devoted to the culture and history of Thessaloniki’s Sephardi community. The museum will also tell the story of the smaller Romaniote Jewish community that has lived in Greece for more than 2,000 years.
The German government donated 10 million euros for the completion of the project, with the balance coming from the Stavros Niarchos Foundation.
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