Obj. ID: 44815
Modern Jewish Art Greek Righteous Among the Nations monument at the Beit Shalom Synagogue in Athens, Greece, 2016
To the main object: Beit Shalom Synagogue in Athens, Greece
Who is Commemorated?
Greek Righteous Among the Nations
The design of the Monument is unusual. It is both the depiction of a book and an actual book with pages that turn. The book stands upright in front of the synagogue fence, set on a semi-circular white marble base on which is inscribed in Greek "He who saves a life, saves the whole world."Metal pages that visitors can turn revolve around the axis that serves as the book’s spine. On the front and back covers is a tree, as a symbol of life. When the book is shut the two halves of the tree connect. Engraved on the metal pages are names of the 328 Greek Righteous. In front of the base and following its curve, is a shallow gutter between the base and the sidewalk pavement which is filled with pebbles.
On the cover:
ΕΛΛΗΝΕΣ ΔΙΚΑΙΟΙ ΤΩΝ ΕΘΝΩΝ
Translation: Greek Righteous among the Nations
On the base:
ΟΠΟΙΟΣ ΣΩΖΕΙ MΙΑ ΖΩΗ ΣΩΖΕΙ ΤΟΝ ΚΟΣΜΟ ΟΛΟ
Translation: Who saves one life saves the whole world
Central Board of Jewish Communities in Greece and the Athens Jewish Community
The sculpture is mounted on the courtyard railings of the Athens Synagogue, where Athenian Jews were ordered to gather to be registered, according to the German mandate of 4.10.1943. It was here that rumours spread about the necessity of escaping, leading Jews to search for hideaways and shelters. This was also where the 800 Jews were arrested by the Gestapo on Friday the 24th of March 1944, before being transported to Haidari, and then to Auschwitz.
The President of the Athens Jewish Community Minos Moissis referred to the significance of the location chosen for the Monument: “Here at Melidoni street, in the very heart of the Jewish neighborhood of Athens, in March 1944, the Jews who were not lucky enough to be protected by such Human beings as the Righteous, were arrested, loaded on trucks to Haidari and from there on the trains headed to the concentration camps”.
The original idea for the memorial dates from November 2013, when Benjamin Albalas, at the time president of KIS, accompanied delegates of the Raoul Wallenberg Foundation to the Presidential Mansion to award the President of Greece with the Wallenberg Medal. In his speech at the dedication, Albalas recalled that:
"On November 18th, 2013, in a solemn ceremony held at the Presidential Mansion, the Raoul Wallenberg Foundation honoured the Greek Righteous and the Greek people as represented by the then President of the Hellenic Republic, Mr. Karolos Papoulias. I attended as the then President of the Central Board of Jewish Communities of Greece. It was in that instant that this memory awoke within me. It was then that the honourable debt and the payment of tribute to the Greek Righteous Among the Nations filled my thoughts. It was then that I –as a child in hiding, who, along with his paternal family, was saved by a Greek Righteous–promised myself and all that were present that the Greek Jewry will pay tribute to the Greek Righteous."
"Unveiling of Greek Righteous Among the Nations monument at the Athens synagogue," KIS - Central Board of Jewish Communities of Greece, February 16, 2003, https://kis.gr/en/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=620:unveiling-of-greek-qrighteous-among-the-nationsq-monument-at-the-athens-synagogue&catid=12:2009&Itemid=41 (accessed February 8, 2023)