When one of the blackest pages in world history was written in Liberty Square.

81 years have passed since the day Nazi troops gathered thousands of Jews of Thessaloniki in the center.

One of the most famous photographs of the Holocaust can be found at the Holocaust Memorial in Berlin. It is from Eleftheria Square in Thessaloniki and the so-called "Black Saturday" of 1942, a day with enormous symbolic weight.

The public humiliation of the city's Jews was the first step in the dehumanization that followed in the Nazi extermination camps.

"On the first days of July 1942, an official announcement of the German Military Administration of Thessaloniki-Aegean was published in the newspapers of Thessaloniki. All Israeli males, aged 18-45, were hereby invited to appear in Eleftheria Square on the morning of Saturday, July 12, at 3 a.m., under threat of severe penalties. German gendarmes of the Stratonomie (FG) pour their bulldogs against some Israelis... Other Israelis who, tired of waiting for many hours, sat down on the ground, the Gestapo men beat until they bleed. Other Israelis are forced to continuously and on time without ceasing to perform laborious gymnastic exercises under threat of beating".

The passage from the memoirs of Yomtov Yakoel, a lawyer of the IKTH, describes in a shocking way what contemporaries will never be able to do about that day, July 11, 1942, when in Eleftherias Square - the central square of the city where the current administration of municipality of Thessaloniki saw in the future as a car park, gathering the arrows not only of the Jewish community but of every person who ever read what happened that morning - one of the blackest pages in history was written. Not only of Thessaloniki, but of our world as a whole.

"Finally, other groups of Germans force Israelis to perform humiliating movements (flips) under crowds of Christian curious and spectators. To complete the spectacle, photographs of the gathering were taken by Germans and photojournalists, which were immediately presented to the Greek press the next day with characteristic descriptions, at the expense of the Israelis," continues Yomtov Yakoel.

But his saddest memory-observation that vividly shows how all the Holocaust, and all large-scale crimes against people, happen because the "ordinary", the "normal" people next door allow it comes a little later.. "It is worth noting the fact that in this adventure of the group registration and forced concentration for work of 8000-9000 Israeli Greek citizens, no reaction was shown neither by the Christian society, nor by the state and local authorities", wrote Yakoel.

Source: MACEDONIA, 11.7.2023