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Israeli president visits Greek site of future Holocaust museum
Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras speaks during a foundation stone-laying ceremony for a Holocaust museum in Thessaloniki on January 30, 2018. The museum will be built next to the old railway station from where the 55,000 Jews of the city were deported by Nazi forces to concentration camps during World War II. SAKIS MITROLIDIS / AFP.

THESSALONIKI (AFP).- Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras on Tuesday announced the northern port city of Thessaloniki is to host a Holocaust museum, during a visit to the site with Israeli President Reuven Rivlin.

Greek shipping tycoon Stavros Niarchos and the German government will each make a 10 million euro ($12 million) donation to cover the bulk of the cost of the museum on the site of a former railway station from where trains transported prisoners to the Auschwitz extermination camp in Nazi-occupied Poland.

Other donations will complete the overall 22 million euro cost.

"The Holocaust museum is an homage to 50,000 Greek Jews from Thessaloniki -- young people, children, elderly exterminated in the concentration camps," said Tsipras.

"Nothing and nobody has been forgotten -- neither the criminals nor the victims," he added.

Work on the 7,000 square metre (75,000 square feet) site is due to start later this year with completion set for 2020.

"Ninety percent of Greek Jews from Thessaloniki were exterminated -- this museum will be a place of memory and witness," said Rivlin, who on Tuesday began a state visit.

Rivlin and Tsipras symbolically planted two olive trees in memory of the victims at a park adjoining the site of the future museum.

At the beginning of the last century Thessaloniki was known as the "Jerusalem of the Balkans" as its 50,000-strong Jewish contingent accounted for about one third of the city's population.

Today, the community has shrunk to just a few hundred.

© Agence France-Presse

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