Abravanel, the Blog

Jewish life and not only in Greece / Εβραϊκή ζωή και όχι μόνο στην Ελλάδα

The new Thessaloniki Metro and the Jewish Cemetery Station

Posted by Abravanel, the Blog στο 05/01/2008

As you all know a new subway is currently being build in Thessaloniki.

excavationsAt the same time many witnesses have reported that part of the jewish cemetery has been unearthed by the excavations. Argos has posted twice about in, (in greek) in «Oh, a necropolis» , «Continuing on the necropolis» where the photo on your left origins from.

On a greek forum dedicated to the subway readers have reported that workers in the cemetery the reader was seeing was the jewish one.

Argos didn’t hesitate to point out how local media downplayed the find and remained positively vague about the subject. Reading all these worried me but then I noticed a paragraph in the Attiko Metro’s, (the company that is responsible for the construction), webpage:

ATTIKO METRO S.A. in cooperation with the Ministry of Culture shall display the most significant archaeological finds of the Project in especially configured areas in the central stations of the network. Therefore, the benefit from the construction of the Project shall be double for the city of Thessaloniki: speed, safety, comfort and reliability using the best public transportation mode and invaluable knowledge about our cultural heritage.

Could I make a suggestion then? That the Metro, the new subway be a means to increment the knowledge of Thessalonicean’s about their own city? Wouldn’t be a respectful touch to name the subway station of Panepistimio as Jewish Cemetery Station? Or if this is impossible then the station of Panepistimio be dedicated, through photos and tombstones which still lie around, to the cemetery which lies underneath it, (or above it if the metro indeed will dig farther down to avoid further trouble by the cemetery)?

Don’t you think that a permanent and extensive photo exhibition would be the correct way of facing it’s past? Would it be this difficult to accept that the Jewish Community of Thessaloniki is exactly this: of Thessaloniki and make it’s cemetery a part of all Thesalonicean’s past?

This photo comes form the Jewish Museum of Thessaloniki and depicts and old woman searching for a tomb.
I chose it because the name of the photo is «Looking for the tomb» which I felt that was
appropriate and depicting accurately the state that the inhabitants of Thessaloniki, jews and christians alike,
feel towards this issue. Let’s hope they find it…

10 Σχόλια προς “The new Thessaloniki Metro and the Jewish Cemetery Station”

  1. Argos said

    You’re very optimistic. I don’t believe that anyone with power in Thessaloniki wants something that will remind the past, especially the Jewish part of it. Sorry…

  2. Abravanel said

    I agree with that view but that doesn’t mean that I accept this. :)

    We’ve arrived to the present situation also because of the silence, justified or not, of the greek jews. That they’re building on the necropolis doesn’t mean that it should remain unnoticed or that we shouldn’t propose a possible cause for action – at least this way the masks fall.

  3. Chris Panagiotou said

    The idea of exhibiting the findings of the jewish cemetery in the metro station Panepistimio sounds great! It would actually be unforgivable not to do so.. The jewish community has marked the identity of Thessaloniki and it’s a pity, if not shame, to deny this part of our common heritage. I am already imagining a superb and modern Underground station with shiny glass surfaces where tombstones and pictures will be permanently exhibited! Absolutely cool!

  4. Abravanel said

    IMHO the metro could serve as a journey through the various historical phases of Thessaloniki and it’s inhabitants; glad you liked the idea!

  5. Sokrates said

    I also think it’s a fair idea for a city with rich Jewish history.
    I advise you to send your idea to the Central Jewish Council, in order to make an official suggestion either to the Ministry of Culture or to the local Ephorate of Byzantine Antiquities. Actually every new metro station hosts the finds or photos of the excavation finds, and it will be a lovely chance for th Greek State to pay tribute to citizens of Thessaloniki, who enriched its history and culture.
    I’m sure that if you organize it properly, your idea will come true..
    Good luck!

  6. Abravanel said

    Thanks for the encouragement, indeed I shall,(do), try and hope for it!

  7. The current climate of anti-semitism may prevent the authorities in Greece from doing anything to commemorate what lies beneath (or above) However, Israel just ended its air war games with Greece (as a warning to Iran), so perhaps relations between the two are «warm». The only way I can see something happening is for the Sephardic community to rise up and say something.
    I will address my readers on my blog.
    Aimee Kligman

  8. Abravanel said

    First of all welcome! Unfortunately as I have said to others, antisemitism is the root of the problem and antisemitism has thrived for centuries without Israel. Even if Greece and Israel become the closest of allies, I doubt that this shall make people understand that antisemitism is the cancer of the society. Personally I hope that they’ll decide at least to commemorate the Cemetery by naming the University Station to it – others thessaloniceans like argos are less optimistic.

    For those interested Aimee’s post is the following: http://womenslens.blogspot.com/2008/07/subway-in-salonika-and-jewish-cemetery.html

  9. metrothess said


  10. […] υποχωρήσει και να σιωπήσει. Αφορά τον σταθμό του μετρό για τον οποίο είχα γράψει πριν 8 χρόνια – οι εργασίες θα περνούσαν από την πανεπιστημιούπολη […]

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