The Minister of Culture and Sport Lina Mendoni
inaugurated the exhibition “In the Same City. Christians and Jews in Thessaloniki”
at the Jewish Museum of Thessaloniki.
The first of a series of modular exhibitions entitled “In the Same City. Christians and Jews in Thessaloniki”, was inaugurated by Minister of Culture and Sports Lina Mendoni at the Jewish Museum of Thessaloniki.
Through the exhibition material, the atmosphere and society of Thessaloniki in a transitional historical period, at the end of which its population composition and cultural personality were to undergo great and violent changes. At the beginning of the 20th century, however, the city’s urban class was distinguished by common social characteristics, aesthetic and cultural values, regardless of the religious or ethnic origin of its members, as can be seen from the study of the archives of the State Conservatory, the Jewish Museum, the family of Georgios Konstantinidis and others, which formed the starting point for the exhibition concept and material. The archival material presented, such as unpublished photographs, documents, printed matter and objects of the period, is extremely rich and interesting.
In her statement, Lina Mendoni noted that “The exhibition highlights the presence of the Jewish community, in modern world history, as shortly afterwards, Nazi Germany made it its ultimate goal to destroy and erase its identity. In Thessaloniki, regardless of religious identity, both communities had integrated culture into their daily lives. They attended the same performances and concerts, studied music and theatre together, socialized and communicated with each other.The research highlights the abundance of common points of reference at all levels and in the various aspects of everyday life and social life, which outweighed any differences and allowed for the smooth coexistence and well-being of the inhabitants. All this acquires a special conceptual and emotional weight and value in the light of subsequent historical developments and especially the drama of the camps experienced by the Jewish population of Thessaloniki. Who could have imagined, when studying sheet music at the State Conservatory, that Auschwitz would follow and that the study of music would in some cases serve as a redemption for the terrible days lived there? Today, strong associations are being recalled in reference to the painful events that we are sadly seeing unfold, once again, in our wider neighbourhood. The cultural heritage of peoples is being destroyed in the game of a devastating war to erase identities and memories. It is for this very reason that exhibitions such as the one we have opened today are not only extremely interesting and instructive, but also always topical.”
Referring to the Holocaust Museum, Lina Mendoni said that “We owe it to the memory of the thousands of Jews of Thessaloniki who got on a train and never returned. The government is seeking the construction of the museum as soon as possible. On the Prime Minister’s instructions, the Vice President systematically worked with all parties involved to resolve important institutional pending issues in an effort to absorb past delays. We want the Holocaust Museum to house and accommodate not only the memory, but also the very long history and cultural identity of the Jewish communities of Greece.”
The exhibition is co-organized by the Jewish Community of Thessaloniki, the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, the George Konstantinidis Archive and the Hellenic Parliament Foundation for Parliamentarism and Democracy.