International Outcry Over Kavala’s Mayor Refusing Star of David on Holocaust Memorial for His City’s 1500 Holocaust Victims


The mayor of Kavala in northern Greece is the subject of international criticism after he decided to stop the unveiling of a Holocaust memorial for that city’s almost 1500 victims because it featured a Star of David.

Mayor Dimitra Tsanaka’s decision was supported by the majority of the city’s municipal council. The national government, led by Syriza— which has no official say in local matters— opposed her decision. The Education Ministry’s general secretary Giorgos Kalatzis said that Kavala risked being the first Greek city to turn down a monument raised for its own citizens.

“As an Orthodox Christian, I feel deeply insulted by this issue, because it would be as if someone asked us to erase or modify for ‘aesthetic reasons’ the symbol of the cross on the tombs of our grandfathers executed by the Germans,” Kalatzis said.

American Jewish groups also slammed the decision.

“There are no words to express adequately our shock and dismay at this news,” said American Jewish Committee Executive Director David Harris.

“How can it be that the eternal symbol of the Jewish people – the very symbol that the Nazis required Jews to wear in the death camps and ghettos of Europe during the Second World War – is deemed unfit for public display in Kavala? What gall for the Jewish community to be asked to remove the Star of David as a condition for allowing the monument to be displayed,” Harris said.

Harris said the AJC applauded Kalatzis’, response to the news from Kavala.

The Anti Defamation League similarly slammed the move to cancel the Holocaust memorial in a statement it released on Friday.

“To object to a Star of David on the monument is morally reprehensible,” said ADL Director Abraham H. Foxman.

“Kavala’s Jews were killed because they were Jews, and the value of a monument is to make that fact demonstrably clear,” Foxman said.

“The mayor and the city council have insulted the memory of victims, the Greek Jewish community, and Jews around the world, and we join with the Greek Jewish community in voicing our outrage,” he added.


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  1. Vasilis Ritzaleos on

    Ceremony for the unveiling of the Kavala Holocaust Memorial (Sunday June 7, 2015)

    The Municipality of Kavala, the Central Board of Jewish Communities in Greece and the Administration Committee of the Jewish Community of Kavala would like to invite you on June 7, 2015 to the unveiling of the Holocaust Memorial dedicated to the 1,484 Greek Jews of Kavala who perished in the Nazi concentration camps.


    Kavala, Sunday June 7 2015

    11:00 Visit to the Jewish Cemetery of Kavala

    Ceremony for the unveiling of the Holocaust Memorial

    (Erythrou Stavrou street, near Rodopi parking)

    11:45 Ashkava prayer in the Memory of the Jews of Kavala held by Thessaloniki Rabbi Mr Aaron Israel

    12:00 Speeches by

    -Vice Prefect of Kavala, Mr. Theodoros Markopoulos

    – Mayor of Kavala, Mrs Dimitra Tsanaka

    -Secretary General for Religious Affairs (representing the Minister of Culture, Education and Religious Affairs), Mr. Giorgos Kalantzis

    – President of the Central Jewish Council of Greece, Mr Moisis Konstantinis

    -Ambassador of Israel to Greece, Ms Irit Ben Abba

    – President of the Jewish Community of Thessaloniki, Mr David Saltiel

    – President of Administration Committee of the Jewish Community of Kavala, Mr Ezra Bakolas

    – Donor of the Memorial, Mr Viktor Venouziou

    Unveiling of the Memorial

    12:30 Speech by the Historian Mr Vasilis Ritzaleos on the history and destruction of the Jews of Kavala

    12:45 Choir of the Jewish Community of Thessaloniki

    13:10 Wreaths

    1 minute silence – Greek national anthem

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