Jews’ headstones smashed in Greek city
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Jews’ headstones smashed in Greek city

Community in Trikala condemns ‘inexcusable and direct attack’; only 10 of its members survived Holocaust, some after British Princess Alice hid them in her home

Illustrative photo of smashed tombstones in a Jewish cemetery. (AP/Hans Punz)
Illustrative photo of smashed tombstones in a Jewish cemetery. (AP/Hans Punz)

Unidentified individuals smashed eight tombstones at a Jewish cemetery in Greece, including that of the former local community leader.

The incident happened last week at Trikala, a city in central Greece located about 240 kilometers (150 miles) northwest of Athens, the Central Board of Jewish Communities in Greece wrote in a statement Friday.

The same city was the scene of one of the Nazi forces’ most thorough liquidations of any large Jewish community, with only 10 people surviving the Holocaust from a community of hundreds of members.

Of those, several were rescued thanks to Princess Alice, the great-grandmother of Britain’s Prince William, who was living in the Athens region at the time.

A smashed headstone in Trikala Greece, in a picture shared on October 12, 2018. (courtesy: Central Board of Jewish Communities in Greece)

In September of 1943, members of the Cohen family from Trikala appealed to her for help. She hid several relatives until the Nazis withdrew in October 1944.

The Jewish community of Trikala complained to police about the cemetery desecration and urged authorities to bring the culprits to justice.

Robert Singer, the CEO and executive vice president of the World Jewish Congress, said in a statement that the deed “is an inexcusable and direct attack against the Jewish community, which must be condemned at the highest levels.” In Greece today, he added, “such vile demonstrations of hatred and opposition have sadly become commonplace, against both Jews and other minorities. We cannot and must not tolerate such injustice.”

Queen Elizabeth II’s mother-in-law, Princess Alice of Battenberg, with one of her daughters circa 1910. (Wikimedia Commons/JTA)

A Jewish cemetery in Nikaia near Athens was desecrated with neo-Nazi symbols in May, two years after unknown individuals smashed several marble headstones there.

The Jewish cemetery in Trikala was also desecrated once before, the local community wrote.

The city has some of Greece’s oldest tombstones, some erected more than 450 years ago.

Before the war, the community maintained three synagogues. The largest was used as a stable by the Germans. It was the only one which was still standing at the end of the war and functions to this day, according to the Jewish Museum of Greece.

Today, the community has about 40 members.

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