Paris, 4 December 2021
In a letter to the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) Greek Chair, Ambassador Chris J. Lazaris, Wiesenthal Centre Director for International Relations, Dr. Shimon Samuels, expressed “support and respect for IHRA, its Definition of Antisemitism and the Greek Presidency this year. Your logo, ‘Teaching the Holocaust: Education for a World with no More Genocides’, is indeed appropriate.
“Nevertheless, we are concerned that, despite the 2020 banning of neo-Nazi party Golden Dawn, extremist attacks across Greece remain frequent.”
The letter continued, “Moreover, Konstantinos Plevris, author in 2006 of the antisemitic book ‘Jews: The Whole Truth’, had praised Adolf Hitler and his call for the extermination of the Jews. We heard that the book was due to appear in an Arabic edition. He has publicly described himself as a ‘racist, anti-democrat, antisemite,’ and supports the myth of ‘The Protocols of the Elders of Zion’ as if it were authentic. He also described the Jews as ‘subhuman’ and Jewish children in the camps as ‘very fat’ and ‘well fed,’ stating ‘Jews need to be rounded up and executed within 24 hours’.”
“We supported the KIS (Central Board of Jewish Communities in Greece) throughout the several lawsuits and were amazed at Plevris’s 2009 acquittal, arguably a failure in enforcing Greek anti-racist legislation,” stressed Samuels.
The Centre added: “In September 2021, Konstantinos Plevris’ son, Athanasios (Thanos) Plevris, was appointed Greek Health Minister. KIS had condemned his comments on the Holocaust as defence lawyer of his father. The younger Plevris had spoken of Auschwitz in the following terms: ‘What incitement is this?... Is one not allowed to believe and want to believe that I want to exterminate someone?’”
As Health Minister, Thanos Plevris responded that “KIS’ objections were understandable,” and that he fully disagreed with his father’s views, adding: “I never wanted to insult the Jewish people and I apologize.”
“Mr. Ambassador, how will he, as Health Minister, respond to the growing number of anti-vaxxers wearing yellow stars or repeating antisemitic conspiracy theories, many being also members of his right-wing party?” enquired Samuels.
The Centre noted, “On 20 January, we will mark the 80th commemoration of the Wannsee Protocol for the ultimate murder of 11 million Jews; among them were listed 69,000 from Greece, most of whom were deported and disappeared in Auschwitz.”
“We suggest that your international conference in Ioannina – a city made Judenrein – have a session on the Plevris cases of Holocaust denial,” concluded Samuels.
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“My cause was justice, not vengeance. My work is for a better tomorrow and a more secure future for our children and grandchildren.” (Simon Wiesenthal, 1908-2005)