The Jewish community of Thessaloniki is planning a series of events this weekend to mark 70 years since the first Jews were deported from the northern port to death camps at Auschwitz, including a march through the city on Saturday and a remembrance service at the main synagogue, to which Prime Minister Antonis Samaras has been invited.
It is unclear whether Samaras will be able to attend the service as he is in Brussels for a crucial European Union summit but the events in Thessaloniki are expected to draw high-profile members of the international Jewish community, notably the influential president of the World Jewish Congress, Ronald Lauder, and Moshe Kantor, the head of the European Jewish Congress.
A silent march in the memory of some 50,000 Jews who were deported to Germany in 1943 during the Nazi occupation of Greece is to be held in central Thessaloniki at 11.30 a.m. on Saturday.
Of the 50,000 Thessaloniki Jews deported to the Auschwitz and Birkenau concentration camps in 1943, only around 1,200 survived. Some of the survivors are expected to join the march, which is to be led by Thessaloniki Mayor Yiannis Boutaris.
Visiting Jewish dignitaries are to inaugurate an exhibition of photographs of the deportations and attend a concert at the city’s Aristotle University of Thessaloniki.