Boutaris does it again

Proposed building at the old train yards at the western edge of Thessaloniki

Proposed building at the old train yards at the western edge of Thessaloniki

The mayor of Thessaloniki, Yiannis Boutaris, announced that the city would finally have an institution which will reflect and acknowledge the contributions that Sephardim refugees made to the city since the early 1500s and the fate of their community during WWII.

The proposed Holocaust Museum and Educational Center will occupy a five acre sight near the Old Train Station from which 50,000 Greeks were transported to Auschwitz-Birkenau and Bergen-Belsen in 1943.

“With the Holocaust Museum, Boutaris believes that Thessaloniki, apart from the obvious benefits of tourism and raising the city’s profile, will become a symbol to promote tolerance and fight racism.” (‘A global monument against racism in Thessaloniki’ eKathimerini 20 December 2017)

The new six story structure, reminiscent of Thessaloniki’s great landmark the White Tower(link), will be a 7000 square meter steel and glass cylinder as suggested in the architectural rendering. The building is co-designed by two firms, one in Tel Aviv and the other in Berlin.

As mayor Boutaris has been insistent in his efforts to confront the tragic history of his city and highlight as unacceptable intolerance and racism against all peoples. The new institution includes ‘educational’ in its title for good reason. Funding for the project is secured – with €20 million coming from the German Government with additional capital from the Stavros Niarchos Foundation. The organizers hope to begin building later in 2017 and open the facility in 2019.

“Boutaris has been instrumental in acknowledging the city’s rich Jewish history and the extent of its devastation. Earlier this year (2013) he organized a public march to commemorate 70 years since the first deportations, the first such display by the Jewish community since the end of the war.” (‘Thessaloniki to build Holocaust Museum and Research Center’ Jerusalem Post 23 December 2013)

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3 thoughts on “Boutaris does it again

  1. Brilliant! What will happen to the existing Jewish Museum? I assume their exhibits will be incorporated? It is well worth a visit in the meantime, if you haven’t yet been.

  2. I think that the collection of the Museum at 13 Agios Minas street – ( http://www.jmth.gr) – will move to the new building.

    The history of Thessaloniki in the early 20th century is fascinating. Officially a Greek city only from 1913, it was briefly the capital of Greece, for the Venezelos (republican) government, during the “National schism”. The royalist capital was remained in Athens.

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