A historic Jewish cemetery in the central Greek city of Larissa, as well as that city’s Holocaust Memorial, were vandalized with Christian graffiti, prompting a quick rebuke from the Greek Foreign Ministry, the United States Embassy and numerous others.
Police arrested a Greek man, who was seen spray-painting the Christian symbol representing the words “Jesus Wins” in black on the walls of the Larissa cemetery and nearby Holocaust monument.
Witnesses described the man at the time of the incident and said he was holding up a sign with Christian religious symbols.
The perpetrator was also fined for violating the Coronavirus curfew rules, according to a statement by Larissa’s police.
“We condemn yesterday’s heinous desecration of the Jewish cemetery of Larissa. This abhorrent act is an affront to the memory of the victims of the Holocaust and is counter to Greek culture and the values of the Greek society. Such actions remind us of the need for vigilance in the defence of our moral values against racism, hatred and bigotry,” said the statement of the Greek Foreign Ministry.
The U.S. Embassy also condemned the vandalism in a statement.
The Jewish community maintains a 2,000-year-old presence in the central Greek city. History has recorded an active Jewish presence in Larissa Roman times, with notable testimony by the Christian bishop Herodion of Patras who, when visiting Larissa in the first century to preach Christianity, addressed the city’s Jewish residents.
In 1944, Nazi occupation forces rounded up the Jews of Larissa and nearby Trikala and imprisoned them in a military garage. They and the Jews of Ioannina were sent to be murdered at Auschwitz-Birkenau. Only a handful of Larissa Jews survived.
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