THESSALONIKI, Greece (AP) — Police in northern Greece say they have recovered more than 600 marble headstones and other fragments from Jewish graves destroyed during the Nazi occupation in World War II — a find that local Jewish groups have described as highly significant.

The 668 fragments were found buried in a plot of land in central Thessaloniki, Greece’s second largest city, following a 70-year search for the remains of graves smashed when the city’s main Jewish cemetery was destroyed.

The head of the city’s Jewish community, David Saltiel, said Thursday most of the gravestones found dated from the mid-1800s up until World War II.

An estimated 60,000 Greek Jews, most of the country’s prewar Jewish population, were killed in the Holocaust.

Copyright 2012 The Associated Press.