Reporting from Athens —
Nearly 70 years later, Athens, one of the last European capitals to commemorate those who perished at the hands of Nazi forces, finally has a Holocaust memorial.
But since its dedication in May, synagogues have been targeted, Jewish cemeteries desecrated, Holocaust monuments elsewhere in Greece vandalized and the Jewish Museum of Greece, in the capital, defaced with swastikas. What’s more, an alarming chunk of Athenians in November supported the election of a neo-Nazi candidate to the capital’s city council.
The ocher-colored marble sculpture in the shape of a broken-up Star of David, its triangular tips dismembered, points toward the 29 Greek cities from which at least 60,000 Jews were gathered and deported to the Auschwitz and Treblinka extermination camps between 1943 and 1944.
Although anti-Semitism is an old and shameful part of Europe’s history, Greece, more than many European nations, continues to wrestle with strong anti-Jewish feelings.
Such sentiments have been revived amid the angst and anger of the Greek economic crisis.
“We’ve always been under siege by fanatics and far-right political movements here,” said David Saltiel, president of the Central Jewish Board of Greece, which represents the country’s 6,000 Jews. “The fear now is that anti-Semitism will get worse with the financial crisis.”