The French organization Memorial de la Shoah, whose work is dedicated to the history of the Jews during the Second World War, with the Ministry of Education and Religious Affairs of Greece, organised the international seminar “The Holocaust as a starting point” on 5-7 July, 2022. The action was hosted by the MOHA Research Centre in Imaret, Kavala, and brought together Greek, Bulgarian and North Macedonian teachers who attended a series of training seminars on the teaching of modern history. The Bulgarian History Teachers’ Association and the Holocaust Fund of the Jews from North Macedonia participated in the initiative, which was funded by the Claims Conference, the Stavros Niarchos Foundation and the European Commission.
The international program “The Holocaust as a starting point” has been implemented since 2015 and includes teacher training seminars on a regional basis between countries having challenging or competing memories, in partnership with local educational authorities and NGOs. Education is one of the most efficient ways to combat racist and xenophobic trends that are noted in the contemporary European societies. For this reason, the project focuses on teachers, for their role in passing knowledge on to future generations.
Historians and researchers from universities and research institutions in Greece and Europe presented a wide range of topics related to the modern history of the participating countries. In addition to the Holocaust and World War II in Europe, the discussions with the teachers focused on the impact of World War I in the Balkan countries, the Greek Civil War and the anti-Semitic policies in South-Eastern Europe. During the three-days seminar, workshops on community building and addressing controversial issues in the classroom were also held. On the second day of the seminar, a visit and guided tour of the historic town of Doxato, Drama, was organised, where in 1913 one of the darkest pages of the Balkan Wars took place, with the massacre of the inhabitants and the burning of the village by the Bulgarian army.