In proximity of the “Beit Shalom” Synagogue in Melidoni Street, in a beautiful park overlooking the ancient cemetery o Keramikos, under the shade of the Acropolis, the Holocaust Memorial of Athens is located. Few areas resonate as much with the ideals of freedom, equality and democracy. This is where the Jews of Athens were trapped and captured by the Nazis, on March 24, 1944, under a ruse of food handouts.
In 2008 the Municipality of Athens conceded this park for the erection of the Holocaust Memorial, fullfilling a long-standing wish of the Jewish Community. A competition was proclaimed by the Community, which received proposals by 19 acclaimed artists. A special committee chose the proposal of the Greek American artist DeAnna Maganias which was chosen for its simplicity of design and symbolism.
The Memorial was unveiled on May 10, 2010. It is made of yellow marble blocks depicting a broken up Magen David (Star of David). There are six triangular, broken off pieces of the star, which are scattered around the park, pointing in the directions where Greek Jewish communities existed before the Holocaust. On each piece, the names of these communities are engraved. The central piece, a massive hexagon block remains intact, symbolizing rejuvenation. The marble blocks lay in a garden planted with aromatic herbs, a symbol of healing and a catalyst of memory. On a plaque, a text specially written by the Holocaust survivor and Nobel laureate Elie Wiesel reads:
Pause awhile as you pass by, close your eyes and remember.
Remember the time when here,
or near here, men, women and children- our own fellow creatures- congregated in peace and trust,
only to be arrested, humiliated, deported and murdered in the
Camps that shall forever shame our Civilization.
Because they were Jewish, six million people were denied the right to be free, happy, to hope, to smile, to pray, and finally, the right to live.
Remember them, their anguish and their death. Do not recoil at such horror; do not descend into despair at man’s inhumanity to man.
For by remembering we honour their deaths, and we save them from dying again, in oblivion.