First Secondary School Competition to Deal with Nazi Germany’s Occupation of Greece

Schools in Hamburg, Bavaria, Rhineland-Palatinate, and Baden-Württemberg Won Competition Held by the MOG Memorial Project at Freie Universität Berlin

The secondary schools Campus Marienthal in Hamburg, Franz-Marc-Gymnasium Markt Schwaben, Gymnasium Traben-Trarbach, and the Waldorfschule Konstanz are the winners of the first German-wide school competition "Challenge History - Remember Hellas" for dealing with the Nazi occupation in Greece. They will share the award money totaling 10,000 euros. The school competition was announced in 2021 by the German-Greek history education project "Erinnerungen an die Okkupation in Griechenland" / "Memories of the Occupation in Greece" (MOG), which is based at Freie Universität Berlin. An award ceremony was held on Friday, November 25, in the Topography of Terror Documentation Center in Berlin. In addition to the award-winning students, the event was attended by the patron of the competition and Ambassador of Greece to Germany, HE Mara Marinaki, and Sylvia Groneick from the Department of Culture at the German Federal Foreign Office.

The first competition for secondary schools to deal with this subject was held during the 2021/2022 school year. Under the motto "Challenge History - Remember Hellas," schools throughout Germany were invited to create projects related to Nazi Germany’s occupation of Greece. Submissions included short films, explanatory videos, podcasts, and other individual projects. The Embassy of the Hellenic Republic took over the patronage. The Greek Ambassador in Germany, Mara Marinaki pointed out the importance of the initiative and emphasized, "School students in Germany actively deal with the German occupation of Greece during World War II and thus contribute to efforts to develop a common culture of remembrance for younger generations." For the coming school year in 2023, the competition for school students is to take place in Greece for the first time.

A student, Lydia R., from the award-winning school Gymnasium Traben-Trarbach said, "Unfortunately, today the topic of war in Europe is closer than we had hoped. This makes it all the more important to deal intensively with the historical roots of the European situation in World War II." She added, "We found that the history books often contain only facts about the situation in Germany and the Allied intervention. It is hard to find well-founded factual information about other European countries during this period, but that is equally important in order to understand the big picture." That is why Class 9b of Gymnasium Traben-Trarbach decided to "also deal with a country that you do not learn much about from the textbooks used in schools in Germany."

Greece was occupied by Germany from 1941 to 1944. More than 100,000 people starved to death, another 60,000 Jewish Greeks were deported and murdered, and almost 50,000 civilians fell victim to so-called reprisals. The German occupation of Greece is still deeply anchored in the Greek collective memory. The MOG memorial project aims to help draw the attention of the German public to the war crimes committed on Greek soil. The project is completely bilingual and aims to address both the German and the Greek history education landscape.

The MOG memory project was launched in 2016 by education scholars at Freie Universität Berlin and the former head of the Center for Digital Systems (CeDiS), Nicolas Apostolopoulos. It includes an online archive with memories of individuals who lived through the occupation of Greece by Nazi Germany and an educational platform with extensive material for teaching and learning. The 93 interviewees talk about the period of occupation from 1941 to 1944 as well as their living conditions in the years before and after the occupation. The video interviews were conducted with people from different backgrounds in Greece, Germany, and Israel: Greek resistance fighters, survivors of massacres carried out by the Germans, people who were arrested in raids and deported to Germany, forced laborers, persecuted Jews, and witnesses of bombing raids.

Hagen at the Fleischer National and Kapodistrian University of Athens is in charge of historical accuracy and content.