Thessaloniki Closer to Getting its Holocaust Museum

The plan for a modern museum, illustrating to visitors the story of the Jews of Thessaloniki, has been in the works for a decade.


Bids for the construction of the Thessaloniki Holocaust Museum will be invited in 2023, provided there are no more delays.

Some issues with land ownership and zoning were finally resolved only a few days ago, with the publication of those changes in the Government Gazette.

 

The decision to build a Holocaust Museum was taken about a decade ago and a memorandum of cooperation was signed in 2013 between the Thessaloniki municipality, the Jewish Community of Thessaloniki and GAIAOSE, the company and developing property for Greece’s Hellenic Railways; the site, at Thessaloniki Rail Cargo Station, was the location from which nearly 50,000 Jews were sent to their deaths in German concentration camps during World War II.

The leasing of the land to the Israeli Community took place in 2014 and the Presidential Decree approving changes in the building code was published in 2017.

It was found, after the fact, that not all the land leased to the Jewish Community belonged to Hellenic Railways; moreover, the space was small, just enough to build the museum on. A swap of land between Hellenic Railways and the municipality of Thessaloniki was decided and approved by a 2021 law and the amended Presidential Decree published on November 18, 2022.

The Jewish Community of Thessaloniki will oversee construction of the €29 million project.

“We have already assigned all the studies, architectural, environmental, museological, static etc., needed to obtain a building license,” Jewish Community of Thessaloniki President David Saltiel told newspaper Kathimerini. “We estimate they will be completed within the first quarter of 2023, so that calling for (construction) bids can take place,” he adds.

 

“The museum study is a collaboration of the Jewish Community with the Jewish Studies Chair at Aristotle University. The aim is to create a modern museum that will illustrate the story of the Jews of Thessaloniki and the Holocaust and (fill a gap in) the history of the city. We’re sure it will be a pole of attraction. Its placement on the old railway station, where the beginning of the end of our community in Thessaloniki happened, has a great symbolic importance and we also hope it will help upgrade the area,” he added.

The 3,166-square-meter museum (all buildings) will be built on a 1.58-hectare block.

The German government will pay €10 million toward completion of the project, the Stavros Niarchos Foundation another €10 million and the Greek state, €9 million.

This article was previously published at ekathimerini.com.



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