During the occupation of Northern Greece by the German Army from 1941 to 1944, the campus of Anatolia College became the headquarters of the Army Group E. During this time, a system of bunkers was constructed by the German army underneath Macedonia Hall. These bunkers include four vault rooms locked off by massive doors, though only remnants survive today.
Anatolia College has proposed a project entitled “The Matrix – Remembering the past Managing the future”, which will renovate the bunkers into an information center for schools, universities, and community members from Thessaloniki and the wider region. Not only will this information center create a powerful memorial for the Anatolia students and staff deported and killed during the War, it will also create a tangible link to a period of the region’s history of which few physical traces survive. While the proposal has been drafted, the question of how best to utilize the sight and organize the center remains open.
Anatolia College and the German Consulate General in Thessaloniki have organized a conference, entitled “Filling the Void”, to discuss the question of how the bunkers may be used to contribute to historical memory. Scholars of various fields will convene to explore possible ways of filling the void of historical memory of Nazi-German occupation in Greece, especially for younger generations whose connection to the 1940’s is extremely distant. The conference will address the importance of preserving memory from this period of global tragedy for the benefit of tomorrow’s population, and participants will consider the bunkers as a sight capable of making an impact on visitors that deepens their understanding of this historical period.
Anatolia College states the goal of the Matrix project as: “Rendering Anatolia College as a landmark of memory. Considering that Anatolia is an educational institution, such an initiative will trigger further research on collective memory management with an understanding that remembering the past is always related to the agony of managing the present and envisioning a brighter future.” The conference will explore different ways of presenting the bunkers and will think critically about how to engage new generations.
The conference will take place at Anatolia College on Monday, October 7th, 2019 at Bissell Library and will include input from museologists, historians, and a variety of other experts.
The conference will be held in English.