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Recovered fragment of a desecrated tombstone honoring a Greek Jewish mother and infant

Object | Accession Number: 2011.109.1

Partial offwhite tombstone recovered from the Jewish cemetery in Thessaloniki, Greece, desecrated in December 1942 during the German occupation by Greek authorities and collaborators. This marker has a Judeo-Spanish inscription in Rashi script dedicated to a young woman, Hana Gatiniyo, and her newborn infant, who both died during the birth, November 4, 1942. This cemetery was the largest Jewish cemetery in the world, in a city that had one of the longest continuous Jewish communities in existence. By 1940, it had around 400,000-500,000 tombs. On April 6, 1941, Germany and Italy invaded and Greece was divided; Germany controlled Thessaloniki in west Macedonia. In July 1942, most Jewish male residents were taken for forced labor. The Jewish Community paid an enormous ransom to free the men and to prevent the destruction of the cemetery. On December 6, 1942, workers were sent by the Municipality of Thessaloniki to destroy the cemetery. No graves were left undisturbed. The tombstones were destroyed, the graves looted, and the bones of the dead scattered. Tombstones were taken and used as road fill and for construction by the government and local populace. It was the only major Jewish cemetery in Europe to be completely destroyed during the war.

commemoration:  1942 November 04
use:  1942 December
use: Jewish cemetery; Thessalonike (Greece)
recovery: Thessalonike (Greece)
Jewish Art and Symbolism
Credit Line
United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection, Gift of the Jewish Community of Thessaloniki
Record last modified: 2021-02-10 09:19:11
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