May 18, 2011

The old Jewish cemetery

The old Jewish cemetery of Thessaloniki was one of the largest Jewish cemeteries in the world. It is located roughly under the Aristotelean University just outside of the eastern old wall. As researchers note, burials in the place can be dated since antiquity (also of Jews) and all through the centuries it was a place for burial for many different people who died in the city. It was however the central cemetery for the Jewish community in the era of the Ottoman Empire and later until the Nazis destroyed it in Word War II and many hundred thousands of Jews were buried there all through the centuries. 

The cemetery is being discussed a lot in the city. The Jewish Community of Thessaloniki has been asking from the university a commemoration about the cemetery but it is denied. Protests were also voiced when the construction works for the metro started and accusations were made for desecration. Searching in the blogs I also noticed that a few months ago the Greek government decided to compensate the community with almost 10 million euro because of a legal dispute regarding the ownership of the land where the cemetery was situated. Among the economic crisis, the cutbacks, the new taxes and measures of austerity many bloggers and commentators seem upset with the spending of all that money for that reason - however, this is also a great chance for all the nationalistic blogs to resume on antisemitic propaganda and conspiracy theories.

It is obvious that 'history' is still disputed everyday in the city of Thessaloniki and not only in theory but also in practical terms, like the case of the cemetery and the demands for commemoration, the ownership disputes and the construction works.
Abravanel, the blog: 1, 2
a report about the construction of the metro and the cemetery
pictures from "Οι Εβραίοι της Θεσσαλονίκης: μέσα από τις καρτ-ποστάλ, 1886-1917" by Κωστής Κοψίδας and here

1 comment:

  1. The post I have written is very bad considering the data that has appeared since, please do read Lela Salem's article on the legal deeds concerning the ownership and the recent book by Dordanas et al on Ολοκαύτωμα στα Βαλκάνια and the Ritzaleos article in specific.

    Also take a look in the movie Salonica here.