While Thessaloniki (formerly Salonica) was under Nazi occupation, the local Greek authorities hired 500 workers to dismantle the old Jewish cemetery in order to build over it. Aristotle University—Greece’s largest—now sits atop the graves, whose 350,000 tombstones were put to use in a variety of projects. Only in 2014 was a monument erected to publicize this gruesome fact, inscribed with the somewhat misleading statement that the cemetery was destroyed by “Nazi occupation forces and their collaborators.” Although the memorial is one of a few tentative signs of changing attitudes toward Jews in Greece, writes Devin Naar, anti-Semitism remains a strong force on both the left and the right:
In November 2016, someone tried to pull the branches off the monument’s menorah and damaged the accompanying plaques. . . . This is one of many anti-Semitic incidents over the last few years in Greece, a country with only 5,000 Jews, by an active neo-Nazi party. That party, Golden Dawn, won 7 percent of the votes in the most recent elections. . . . One of its MPs . . . was the bassist in a punk-rock band called Pogrom before being elected. . . . The title song of the album was “Auschwitz,” and its lyrics are too vile to print.
[T]he university has inaugurated a new professorship in Jewish studies sponsored by the Jewish community. A specialist on World War II who also studies anti-Semitism, Giorgos Antoniou has been amazed by the popularity of his course on Salonica’s Jewish history. . . .
At the national level . . . politicians’ anti-Jewish rhetoric has not been abandoned. In September 2016, the vice-minister of education and religious affairs, Theodosis Pelegrinis from the ruling left-wing Syriza party, denounced Jews in parliament for “appropriating the Holocaust” . . . by convincing the world that the term should apply only to Jewish suffering at the hands of the Nazis. . . . Indeed . . . a group of scholars . . . concluded that both the right and the left share the belief that Greeks have suffered more than Jews—the difference being that Jews have achieved vindication whereas Greeks continue to be exploited by “invisible world powers.”