Minister of State Michael Roth travelled to Greece for a two-day visit on 25 and 26 January at the invitation of the Jewish community in Thessaloniki. Roth was the main speaker at an event to mark the International Day of Commemoration in memory of the victims of the Holocaust.
Prior to this Roth held talks with representatives of the Jewish community and learned about their work to uphold the memory of the Holocaust and preserve Jewish life in Thessaloniki. During Germany’s occupation of Greece (1941-1944) almost all of the around 50,000 Jews living in Thessaloniki at the time were deported to concentration camps. Today the Jewish community has around 1200 members.
In his speech Minister of State Roth emphasised that Jewish life in Thessaloniki had been almost completely eradicated in 1943. He said that this loss was still painful today. He assured the Jewish community that the Federal Government would assist them in their efforts to strengthen Jewish life in Thessaloniki once again.
Assistance for Greece
In Thessaloniki Minister of State Roth also met Mayor Yiannis Boutaris and trainees from a project partly financed by EU funds designed to help young people gain professional qualifications. Both sets of talks focused on the situation of people affected by unemployment and possible prospects for young people in Greece.
In December, during his first visit to Athens after assuming office Roth had already stressed the German Government’s willingness to assist Greece in tackling its dramatically high levels of youth unemployment. Speaking in Thessaloniki, he issued the following statement:
Germany will continue to support and show solidarity with Greece along its difficult path. Together we as Europeans must above all work to give young people a fresh perspective. Projects which help young people to embark on careers in technical and business sectors show how this can succeed.
The fact that such initiatives are being sponsored here in Thessaloniki by the European Union is an important step forward. Europe must once again be regarded as part of the solution, and not part of the problem.