The Holocaust Musem in Thessaloniki is long overdue and will constitute a tribute to those who perished in concentration camps, Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras told Thessaloniki Mayor Yiannis Boutaris and the head of city’s Greek-Jewish community David Saltiel, during a meeting at Maximos Mansion on Tuesday.
Boutaris noted that Thessaloniki used to be called “Jerusalem of the Balkans” and Saltiel said he was pleased with the recent adoption of legislation which will allow descendants of Greek –Jews living abroad to claim Greek citizenship.
“We had to implement it but unfortunately not everyone voted it,” Tsipras responded.
In statements to the Athens-Macedonian News Agency (ANA) after the meeting, Boutaris said he was confident the museum will be ready within the first half of 2019 if there is a presidential decree to resolve issues with the building licence – as promised by the prime minister.
“The meeting went very well. The prime minister wants the problems to be solved, for the licences to be issued, and wants to announce the start of work on the Holocaust Museum himself at the Greece-Cyprus-Israel trilateral meeting, which has been set to take place this summer in Thessaloniki,” Boutaris said.
“If we have the presidential decree within June, with Mr. Tsipras’ help, I believe that the project will be completed in the first half of 2019,” he said.
The Holocaust Museum and Educational Centre is to be erected on a 7,000-square-metre site near Thessaloniki’s old railroad station, where thousands of victims of Nazi atrocities embarked on a journey of no return during WWII. Its construction is estimated to cost 22 million euros, of which 10 million euros will be given by Germany, with the first five million euros disbursed in 2017 and the rest in 2018. The remaining 12 million euros, according to Boutaris, are expected to be donated by the Stavros Niarchos Foundation. The architectural plans for the construction of the museum were donated by two architectural firms based in Tel Aviv and Berlin.