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The Star of David unwanted on the Holocaust monument in Kavala

17 May 2015 / 19:05:26  GRReporter
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The proposal of the mayor of Kavala, Dimitra Tsanaka, to postpone the opening ceremony of the Holocaust monument in commemoration of 1,484 Jews from Kavala led to violent reactions from all political parties and tensions between Kavala Municipality and the Central Board of Jewish Communities in Greece (CBJCG).

At the 14 May city council meeting, the mayor proposed a discussion on the layout of the Holocaust monument, which was to be unveiled today.

In a statement, the city council denied reports that the mayor was against the displaying of the Star of David on the face of the monument. Dimitra Tsanaka told SKAI TV she was reluctant to have the Star on the monument’s front as she wanted to make sure it was protected from vandalism.

The council took no decision to cancel or delay the monument’s opening, but the councillors unanimously authorized the mayor to sort out the monument in the best interests of the city. It is created with the joint approval of the municipality and the CBJCG. The bill was footed by a private donor - Victor Venouziou, former President of the Jewish Community of Kavala.

Dimitra Tsanaka told the Athens News Agency that neither she nor the municipality had intended to ditch the monument. She pointed out that "the Kavala Municipality should have a vision on such an important issue as the protection of the Holocaust monument in commemoration of 1484 Jews from Kavala. The decision to erect the monument is a collective action of an institution such as the Municipality of Kavala, and it overrides any individual wishes."

Mrs. Tsanaka upheld the decision of the City Council and stressed that "a decision to cancel the opening ceremony of the monument has never been taken. Those who followed the meeting know that the councillors mandated me to have the issue with the monument’s installation addressed, subject to the respect and protection it ought to enjoy."

The mayor acknowledged a few insignificant errors had been made regarding the monument, but insisted they were not deliberate and showed no lack of respect for a religious community, which has contributed so much to the city , being formerly the largest in North Greece after the one in Thessaloniki.

She pointed out that the decision to put a new monument in the heart of the city, apart from the one that already exists at the Jewish Cemetery, was taken back in 2004. But only 11 years later, "during my tenure and undeterred by any political fallout, we set out to put it in place, thus paying tribute to our fellow citizens who fell victim to Nazism," says the mayor.

Tsanaka explains that after intense communication with the CBJCG management, and mainly its chairman Moysis Konstantinis and deputy chairman Moysis Magrizos, all misunderstandings are now out of the way and the launch can happen very soon. The mayor proposed 7 June as an alternative date.

At the same time, Kavala’s deputy mayor Giorgos Filosoglou argued that the recent developments create an impression that "the city is unwilling to honour its Jewish citizens or that the mayor has no respect for religious symbols, if she wanted the Star of David removed from the monument."

Filosoglu stresses that "after WW2 Kavala and its inhabitants were the first local community in northern Greece to have honoured its Jewish fellow citizens who were exterminated by the Nazis. in 1952, Kavala raised a monument at the Jewish cemetery in memory of the 1,484 Jews from the city deported to Treblinka. Nobody today questions the historical memory of the horrific plight of our Jews and their families."

Tags: Holocaust monument Jews Kavala delay Dimitra Tsanaka
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