A original project of the Jewish Cultural Center Ariowitsch-Haus of Leipzig and the Etz Chayim Synagogue of Chania connects Crete with Leipzig, which will be presented in Chania on 5.10.2023 at the Synagogue of Chania and will conclude in 2024 with the premiere of a play

Those who vacation in Crete enjoy the wonderful beaches, meet the special hospitality and discover the wonderfully preserved monuments of the ancient civilization of the island. Cruise ships anchor in Souda Bay, planes land in Akrotiri, visitors explore the maze of alleys in the historic Old Town of Chania with its Venetian Harbor and four hundred year old synagogue.

Not far behind: the German Maleme Military Cemetery. The German occupation of Crete during World War II - the largest airborne operation in the history of warfare - still carries the aura of heroic history in Germany to this day. It is therefore no surprise that Maleme is, according to the German War Graves Commission (Volksbund), the most visited war cemetery in Europe. By contrast, the mass executions of hundreds of civilians - men, women and children - and the total destruction of many villages in so-called "retaliatory raids" are little known to the public. In addition, all Cretan Jewish residents of the island were arrested in May 1944. In order to be deported to Auschwitz, they were taken to the ship "Tanais". The ship, which was not classified as a prisoner of war transport and also carried other Cretans (insurgents), and Italian prisoners of war, sank in the early morning of 9 June 1944 north of Crete, torpedoed by a British submarine. None of the captives survived.

The 2024 marks the eightieth anniversary of the tragic wreck, which was the end of a history of 2300 years of Jewish presence in Crete. On the occasion of the anniversary, the Ariowitsch-Haus Jewish Cultural Center in Leipzig, Germany and the Etz Chayim Synagogue of Chania will present an original project at an event to be held in Chania.

Greek and German theater people will jointly develop the scene-musical collage "Carefree holidays next to the gray shadows of history". The project will be presented in Chania on October 5, 2023 at the Etz Hayim Synagogue of Chania at 8.30:XNUMX p.m.

Η the premiere of the play will take place next year, i.e. on October 18, 2024, at the Etz Hayim Synagogue.

How can the deportation and massacres of the civilian population be appropriately commemorated today - in a place where cultural traditions of thousands of years, stories of families and victims, and tourism collide? Jürgen Zielinski, former artistic director of the Leipzig Theater der Jungen Welt and initiator of the project, sees this starting point as a great opportunity to face these challenges together in a creative way and with an eye to the future. "This multifaceted place fascinates all visitors. We will attempt to make its individual aspects resonate, bring to light unexpected dimensions and untangle Babylonian language tangles.' Together with Küf Kaufmann, director of the Ariowitsch-Haus, and Anna Dzukmandel from the Etz Hayim Synagogue, Zielinski invites us to capture stories from the past and present in the historical space.

"We see all of this as the beginning of a long-term collaboration to make places connected to Jewish history what they once were everywhere: places of meeting, exchange and diversity," says Küf Kaufmann, president of the Jewish Community of Leipzig.

"Today it is more important than ever to strengthen ties across borders. For us it is a unique opportunity to implement an original project with our colleagues in Leipzig, with which we can reach many German - and other - tourists, the residents of Chania, and school students from Greece and Germany. We want to strengthen Greek-German relations, which were not and are not always easy, but also to help the public realize the fact that World War II may have ended almost eighty years ago, but it still has repercussions to this day. ", they say Vasiliki Giakoumaki, anthropologist and President of AMKE Etz Hayim and Annia Zukmandel, historian and Administrative Director of AMKE Ets Hayim. Both institutions have a long history as spaces for exchange of views and acceptance of diversity.

The scenes for the theatrical collage, which will be hosted by the Etz Hayim Synagogue, are being developed under the artistic direction of Jürgen Zielinski with the collaboration of Greek and German artists. After the premiere one year from now, i.e. on October 18, 2024, there will be eight more performances.

Few countries in the world have such a deep-rooted theatrical tradition as Greece. From ancient times to the present day, the tragedies of Aeschylus, Sophocles and Euripides, and the comedies of Aristophanes, have been staged across the country, in ancient as well as modern theaters. In addition, today's Athens has many small and large theater stages, where the viewer can enjoy from classic plays to children's shows and creations of modern experimental theater.

The theatrical tradition of the Western world was primarily based on ancient Greek drama. For many decades, elements of theater have been adopted by many visual arts, thus contributing to the creation of performance, happening, as well as action painting, and visual installations. In this spirit, Jürgen Zielinski makes use of his experience in managing complex issues, as he did during the development of Theater der jungenWelt's play "Children of the Holocaust".

In the context of the project that will be staged in Chania, students will actively participate through a theater-pedagogical accompaniment. To this end, the city's teachers will be able to exchange ideas, experiences and methods with the organizers of the theater workshops, Bettina Frank and Jürgen Zielinski.

More specifically, for preparatory and/or follow-up work and separately from the performances, the project is accompanied by a "travel bag". The content of the latter, designed by Berlin-based theater educator Bettina Frank and created in collaboration with teachers and students, enables school and youth programs in Greece and Germany to develop their own thoughtful yet playful forms of engagement.

The project will be presented to the public at the Etz Chayim Synagogue of Chania on October 5, 2023, 8.30 pm, by Vassiliki Giakoumakis, Annia Tzoukmandel, Küf Kaufmann, Jürgen Zielinski and Bettina Frank, with the musical accompaniment of Miriam Camerini. All of the above participants will be available for interviews.

On October 2nd, theater educator Bettina Frank invites interested teachers to a workshop where they can experience the method of using theater as an educational tool to connect students' everyday experiences with difficult and often shocking historical topics such as the Holocaust and the Second World War.

Participation in the workshop is free. Interested teachers should contact the Etz Hayim Synagogue office (info@kis.gr; 28210-86286).