FOR THE TWENTIETH SEMINAR FOR TEACHERS
“TEACHING ABOUT THE HOLOCAUST IN GREECE”
BY THE JEWISH MUSEUM OF GREECE
ATHENS, 9-11 MARCH 2017
The Jewish Museum has already organised and carried out, under the auspices of the Ministry of Education, Research and Religious Affairs, nineteen (19) seminars for primary and secondary school teachers, on the topic “Teaching about the Holocaust in Greece”. Ten of these seminars were held in Athens (2004, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2016) and three in Thessaloniki (2005, 2014, 2015). In 2012 and from 2014 to 2016, seminars were also held in Ioannina, Volos, Zakynthos, Patras, Larissa and Karpenissi, where we focused on the local dimensions of the Holocaust. The initiative to expand the seminar outside Athens serves a very important purpose: the encouragement of teachers in regional areas by providing educational/historical material and museum expertise and, at the same time, the feedback for the JMG’s work from teachers throughout the country through the expression of their concerns, questions and queries.
The twentieth seminar was organised in collaboration with the Mémorial de la Shoah, a foundation based in Paris, France, in Athens on 9, 10 and 11 March 2017, at the Ionic Centre (11 Lysiou St., Plaka). Altogether, more than 130 teachers actively participated in the three-day workshops, offering their concerns and thoughts, resulting in the successful completion of the educational seminar. The warm response the seminar receives each time, is a strong incentive for the JMG to continue its contribution to the promotion of democratic education.
This seminar was co-organised with the Mémorial de la Shoah, which contributed with one lecture and two workshops. The seminar retained its main body, which included both the theoretical framework as well as the experiential education. The works of the seminar were opened by Benjamin Albala, vice-president of the Central Board of Jewish Communities of Greece, who read an address by Samuel-Makis Matsas, president of the JMG, absent due to illness. They were also welcomed by Bruno Boyer, Head of International Relations of Mémorial de la Shoah and Zanet Battinou, Director of the Jewish Museum of Greece, who presented a brief history of the seminar and referred to the JMG material and related activities, highlighting the student competition for the creation of a video on “The Child-Victim of the Holocaust”. In the first part of the seminar, focused on historical approaches, AnastasiaLoudarou, the JMG researcher and PhD candidate in ancient history at the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, reverted to the early evidence of Jewish presence in Greece during ancient times and proceeded to the following historical periods (Roman and Byzantine Empires), where she focused on the problems that the Jewish people faced at times. Then, the stand was taken by Eleni Beze, PhD candidate in Contemporary History at the University of Thessaly, who presented the interactive DVD on the Holocaust of the Greek Jews, which was prepared by the JMG. The second part included two important lectures by prominent historians, Oden Varon – Vassar (Hellenic Open University) and Tal Brutmann (EHESS). The first lecturer focused on the Greek case of persecution and deportation of Jewish populations, as well as on the history of the creation of related memorials in Greece. The second lecturer focused on Nazi anti-Jewish policies and how they escalated over time. He also noted the events that contributed significantly to the realisation of this escalation (e.g. invasion of the USSR, Japanese attack on Pearl Harbour, etc.). The first day ended with a guided tour of the JMG’s permanent exhibition and its temporary exhibitions on the Jewish Community of Ioannina and the poet Yosev Eligia from Ioannina.
The second day began with the educational approaches (part b) and more specifically with the intervention of Giorgos Polydorakis, fromthe Diplomatic and Historical Archives Service of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, who presented the IHRA’s papers on how teachers should handle the Holocaust-related educational programmes, the memorial days and the visits to memorial sites. This is a set of 28 practical tips starting from the definition of concepts, the use of oral testimonies, emphasis on the historical context and reaching up to the exploration of incentives, responding to students’ comments and attention to the internet. The stand was then taken by Alexandra Patrikiou, a historian and JMG special researcher, who attempted an approach to the phenomenon of modern political antisemitism and presented samples of Greek antisemitic discourse, dating from the late 19thcentury until the period of the Occupation. The session was concluded with the workshop of Yiftach Ashkenazy, Yad Vashem representative, who presented the video tool box from the Yad Vashem website  and suggested ways of using oral testimony in teaching about the Holocaust.
The third part of the seminar included exclusively experiential workshops and practical advice. It was started by Nina Alcalay with proposals for experiential teaching of the Holocaust through art, using Leonard Cohen’s song “Dance me to the End of Love,” a photograph of Rupert Ganzer from the Holocaust Memorial in Berlin and a untitled painting by Michalis Manousakis, the theme of which was not related to the Holocaust but was selected based on aesthetic criteria. Teachers responded positively and had very original ideas, which included improvisations of students even within the area of body involvement, free associations, creative writing, and expression of emotions.
Then, Orietta Treveza, JMG museum educator, briefly presented the Holocaust-related educational programmes and museum products that teachers can use throughout the year.
Afterwards, Mrs.Eleni Beze presented oral testimonies from Athens and Thessaloniki and stressed the importance of linking the local events to the national and European history. During this workshop, teachers did not only make their own proposals, but they were also presented with the opportunity to express questions about the appropriate use of the resources.
The second day ended with a collage-creation workshop, organised by Alexandra Patrikiou, Haya Cohen (JMG graphic designer) and Orietta Trevezaand was based on the JMG digital version of Zaki Hatzi’s testimony, who was a hidden child during the Occupation . The teachers were divided into ten groups and responded wholeheartedly to the creation of an artwork.
On the third and last day of the seminar the two workshops organised by the Mémorial de la Shoah were presented by Pascal Zachary. The first workshop concerned the use of real evidence in the classroom and the ways through which we manage to extract information and draw conclusions from the sources. The second workshop was related to the dealing of racist prejudices within the classroom.
The fourth part of the seminar was completed with the presentation of the project of two teachers from the Second Junior High School of Ilioupoli, Theodora Kefala (History)and Eleftherios Dafnou (Art), who, apart from presenting their students’ great work, also spoke on the challenges they faced during the implementation of the educational programme.
During the twentieth seminar, to our satisfaction we found that the interest of teachers in the Holocaust is steadily rising. Out of the 85 questionnaires which were completed, the conclusion is that the JMG educational work is highly praised. The teachers responded to the seminar’s innovations with similar enthusiasm. In particular, they mainly referred to the co-operation with the Mémorial de la Shoah, which was treated with enthusiasm despite the procedural difficulties of simultaneous translation. The European perspective of the Holocaust provided the necessary historical background for understanding the deportation of Greek Jewry during the Occupation. In addition, the teachers showed particular interest in practical advice on handling racism in schools today. Furthermore, the creation of an artistic project (collage) based on the history of a hidden child of the Occupation contributed to the search for symbols and the representation of abstract concepts, a practice that is indispensable for the teaching of the Holocaust. The inclusion of the work carried out by the teachers of the 2nd Junior High School of Ilioupoli was also warmly welcomed, since they were able to answer specific questions related to the practical dimensions of conducting such a programme (e.g. time needed, technical specifications etc.). Just as in previous seminars, the need for more practical advice, namely more workshops and connection to modern versions of racism, was strongly emphasised. Finally, the participants expressed their gratitude for the educational material (in printed and electronic form) which was distributed to them and noted the importance of an educational seminar free of charge. At the end of the seminar, which was instrumental in the promotion of democratic principles, the extremely important educational value of teaching about the Holocaust as an archetypal form of genocide became obvious to all.
© Jewish Museum of Greece, May 2017