Four vaulted underground rooms built as shelter by Nazi German occupation forces in Thessaloniki, North Greece, will be used for experimental learning workshops for shool students, the Anatolia College announced on Monday.
The bunkers are at the foundations of Anatolia College’s historic Macedonia Hall, located at the Thessaloniki suburb of Pylea.
The target group, pupils aged 10-12, will participate in interactive ways and acquire a sense of the historical events aided by digital technology, the college said.
Anatolia College, a private, non-profit educational institution, was occupied by the German army between 1941-1944 which used as its Balkan headquarters. It then included the adjacent land – presently the Agios Dimitrios Children’s Health Center – and the very spot where General Georgios Tsolakoglou came to sign the capitulation and surrender agreement of the Greek army to Wehrmacht forces on April 20, 1941.
Some of the subterranean rooms were used as a bomb shelter and others to store classified documents as well as confiscated valuables from residents of the area.
“How can the story of 80 schoolchildren, who along with their parents and their teachers were killed at Nazi concentration camps, possibly be put on paper?” wondered Panos Vlachos, president of Anatolia College.
According to Vlachos, the project is an attempt to “bridge the time gap and bring history to new generations.”
He pointed out that “every place has a memory, every land has a story to tell, but there are places burdened by so-called history’s ‘heavy loads’ (…) where the past is still very much present.”
The key idea behind the project is the management of collective memory and the intake of history by the younger generations, who are distanced, temporally and emotionally, from major historic events, said Vlachos.