Damaskinos Award Ceremony, Wednesday, June 1, 2016
MAYOR BOUTARIS’ ADMINISTRATION INITIATIVES
TO BRING UP
THE JEWISH HERITAGE OF THESSALONIKI (2011-2016)
- The Mayor strongly supports and acts as an advocate for the idea to administer the Greek nationality back to the Jews who having survived the Holocaust fled Greece. They were deprived of their second nationality the Greek one after a controversial political decision was taken by the central government during the 50’s.
- In the context of the Boutaris’ Administration initiative to promote ‘cities’diplomacy’, the Mayor actively assists the efforts of Thessaloniki’s Jewish Community to bring back to Thessaloniki the historical Greek-Jewish Archives kept in Moscow for the past 65 ye It seems that this story is going to have soon a happy ending.
- On Boutaris’ Administration request Thessaloniki participates in the National Martyrdom Cities’ Network – something that the previous administrations denied systematically on the ludicrous allegation that “Thessaloniki’s Jews lost their lives elsewhere”.
- The Thessaloniki City Council paid honor to the last Holocaust survivors, Thessaloniki Jews citizens, as soon as the new Administration took office in 201
- In 2013 and for the first time ever, the Municipality of Thessaloniki participated with a big delegation representing all the city’s actors at the ‘March of the Living’ in Krakow, Poland. Mayor Boutaris was the head of the delegation and lit one of the six candles in memory of the six million Jews lost in the Holocaust.
- For the first time ever in 2013, the Municipality of Thessaloniki organized a Silent March in remembrance of the first train deporting Thessaloniki Jews to Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camps 70 years after the Holocaust. The events were attended by the political authorities of the country, the region and the city, and by thousands of Thessaloniki citizen Relevant events took place also during 2014 (71 years after the Holocaust) and 2015 (72 years after the Holocaust). In 2016 (73 years after the Holocaust), the Silent March was also attended by the Mayor of Tel Aviv-Yafo, Mr. Ron Huldai, and the Head of the “March of the Living”, Mr. Aaron Tamir.
- The “Liberty Square” (Platia Eleftherias) at the heart of Thessaloniki, Greece, a place of great importance for the city, since several historic events took place during the long Thessaloniki history, is planned to be restored into a proper public space for social gathering and relaxation (until now it has largely been used as a parking lot) as a way to pay real tribute to the important historical moments of the cit The remodeling of the square is the best opportunity to move the Holocaust Monument to a more prominent spot within this historical place.
- The Municipality of Thessaloniki promotes the founding of the HolocaustMuseum and Educational Centre close to the Old Train Station, the spot from where the Jews of Thessaloniki were deported to the concentration camp The Museum will serve as a symbol to remind the dramatic events of WWII and to uphold the memory of the more than 50.000 Thessaloniki Jews lost at the Holocaust. In that context, a memorandum with the Thessaloniki Jewish Community and the National Railways Services was signed during the first term of the Boutaris’ Administration to secure the land upon which the Museum is going to be built. Architectural plans are ready, and the project is in the stage of securing building permits, while funding is being sought.
- In early 2016, a Memorandum of Understanding between the Thessaloniki Jewish Community and the Memorial de la Shoah of Paris was signed in the premises of the Thessaloniki City Hall and in the presence of Mayor Boutaris. This development opens the way for the organization of the Memorial de la Shoah to offer its experience and know-how for setting up the Holocaust Museum and Educational Centre.
- During the inauguration ceremony of the City Council (28 August 2014) for the new Local Administration term (which will last until 2019), M Boutaris wore the Star of David as a symbolic move against totalitarianism, racism and exclusion and as a move to remind the Holocaust, provoked by the fact that for the first time ever two Golden Dawn city councilors, who praise the Holocaust, have been elected in the Thessaloniki City Council.