The elaboration of research projects is an important activity of HARH, implemented by the scientific staff of the institution and aims at collecting archival and photographic material, as well as recording the personal experiences of Greek refugees.

  The Archive maintains continuous cooperation with the Chair of Pontic Studies of the Department of History and Archaeology of the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki in research projects, as well as in the realization of student internships and national or international conferences of historical content. Head of the Chair: Assistant Professor Kyriakos Chatzikyriakidis.

The research projects implemented by the HARH concern:

  • The Exchangeable Greek refugees from Asia Minor, Pontus and Eastern Thrace.
  • The Hellenism of Constantinople, Imbros and Tenedos.
  • The Repatriated Greeks from the countries of the former Soviet Union.
  • The second-generation refugees who settled in Kalamaria and other areas of Thessaloniki.

    Supervision of traineeships

     The Historical Archive of the Refugee Hellenism has collaborated in student internship programs with Higher Educational Institutions, Technological Educational Institutions, Vocational Training Centers and Institutes (KEK and IEK). In our institution, students have the opportunity to come into contact with primary sources of history and to process them in a research way under the supervision of the staff. Students from the following departments have carried out internships at HARH:

    • Department of History and Archaeology of the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki.
    • Department of Social Anthropology and History of the Aegean University.
    • Department of Archaeology and Library Science of the Ionian University.
    • Department of History, Archaeology and Social Anthropology, University of Thessaly.
    • Department of Slavic, Balkan and Oriental Studies, University of Macedonia.
    • Department of Balkan Studies, University of Western Macedonia.
    • Department of Primary Education, University of Western Macedonia.
    • Department of History and Archaeology, University of Ioannina.
    • Department of Folk and Traditional Music of TEI of Epirus.
    • Vocational Training Centre “KEK DIAVLOS”.
    • Institute of Vocational Training “IEK Thermi”.

The Historical Archive of the Refugee Hellenism organizes volunteer work programs and invites students and graduates of the following university departments to participate:
History – Archaeology – Social Anthropology – Ethnology
Media and Journalism
Balkan, Slavic and Oriental Studies
Archive Studies
TEI of Library and Archive Studies

After consultation, based on the volunteer’s interests and available time, the employment program and the areas in which the volunteer will be employed will be organized. The following are indicative:

Oral History: collecting interviews, recording and indexing of oral testimonies.

Documents and photographs from private collections and public institutions: research, collection, documentation and indexing.

Periodical press: research and indexing in newspapers.

Archiving and classification of archival material.

Introduction to an electronic online database.

Library: Research for enrichment and classification of books.

Participation in the organization of events, secretarial support.

Promotion of the HARH on social media.

Recognizing the value of volunteering and constantly seeking to feed back its relationship with modern society, HARH is open to volunteers who wish to offer their services to it. To this day, the Archive has employed a large number of volunteers, who, alongside the permanent or temporary staff, have delivered impressive results both qualitatively and quantitatively. It is thus demonstrated that with the right guidance and with the right resources, personal passion, enthusiasm, special knowledge and individual skills, volunteers can become a force to be reckoned with for an institution. But volunteers themselves can also benefit in many ways (enriching their CVs, gaining knowledge and experience, making worthy most of their free time, strengthening interpersonal relationships). Volunteers can support the HARH on a permanent basis or for a fixed period of time. They can work in the archive, at home or on the premises where research is carried out. The minimum duration of engagement is 150 hours.

In order to raise awareness, inform and mobilize students on issues concerning the history and daily life of Greek refugees, HARH organizes educational programs for primary and secondary school students. Through alternative ways of learning such as narratives, theatrical play, painting, students come into contact and become familiar with historical events. The educational student projects that have been carried out to date were:

  • “Koukaras: Lent in Pontus”.
  • “Cyprus: 24 Years since the Invasion”.
  • “The Popular Culture of Asia Minor Hellenism”.
  • “The Last Hellenism of Asia Minor. Changing Homeland, Changing Life”.
  • “Sports in the Refugee Settlements of Thessaloniki”.

Koukaras: Lent in Pontus (Program of 1996)

The refugees of the Asia Minor Catastrophe, upon their arrival in Greece, only managed to carry some of their personal belongings. The violent expatriation forced them to leave their homes once and for all and restart their lives in each new place of settlement. However, what they succeeded brilliantly in doing was to bring back from their ancestral homes the customs, habits, traditions and general way of life they had formed there. They were bearers of a new culture and a collective identity which was to play an important role in the final shaping of the modern Greek national identity. Many of the customs brought by the refugees can still be seen today, either in their original form or in simulated form through commemorative events. One of these customs, which they brought from their unforgettable homelands and specifically from Pontus, was Koukaras. This was a Pontian custom of Lent, which took place on Clean Monday. Through it, the mother of each family would “scare” her children into keeping the fast until the end of Lent, i.e. until Easter Sunday. This was accomplished when she devised a trick, and in this case an artificial scarecrow, to achieve her purpose. In 1996, the Historical Archive of the Refugee Hellenism organized an educational program on the custom of Koukaras in which students of primary schools of Kalamaria took part. The period of time was quite long and several meetings were held. There was great diversity in the activities, which included from simple games to cooking. At the end of the project a newspaper was published on the topic. The work of this educational program was supervised by the staff of the HARH.

Cyprus: 24 Years since the Invasion (Program of 1998).

Cyprus is an integral part of Hellenism and its history is an equally important part of the Greek history. The great island, always a prize at stake between great empires, was the ardent desire of the Greek state and of its subjects who wished to be united with their fellow Cypriots of the same language and religion. The solution of independence that was reached through the Zurich-London agreements in the period 1959-1960 was adopted, on the one hand, in the context of the ‘the lesser of two evils’ and on the other hand, it was the founding act of the Republic of Cyprus. However, the illegal invasion and occupation of 38% of the island by Turkey in 1974 changed the facts radically and plunged an entire people into misery, displacing a large part of it and constituting the so-called Cypriot drama.
The Cyprus question has throughout time been a source of interest for the historical community and a point of friction in the debate among historians. The Historical Archive of Refugee Hellenism, with loyalty and consistency to the purpose of its establishment, has included the issue of the refugees who were forcibly expelled after the Turkish invasion and the Cyprus issue in general in its research interests. In fact, in 1998 it organized an Educational Program on the Cyprus problem, the purpose of which was to inform and mobilize people on the issue. The title of the program was “Cyprus: 24 years since the invasion” and its outcome was considered highly successful. The main contributors to the program were the HARH staff by that time and the school that took part, the 2nd Lyceum of Kalamaria. Finally, the educational program was accompanied by a photo exhibition that took place at REMETZO.

The Folk Culture of Asia Minor Hellenism (Program of 2001-02)

The study of cultures is an interdisciplinary issue that encompasses the research interests of History, Archaeology, Folklore and Social Anthropology. Since the 1990s, the recording of everyday life, customs and habits held by a society has been increasingly elevated, setting aside the exclusive preoccupation with political and military events. By the term Popular Culture or culture, we refer to a subset of a culture of a population group which is recognized by it as a set of beliefs prevailing or present at a given point in time. Popular Culture includes the activities and emotions produced by them.
This is the case with the recording and promotion of the culture of the Greek Asia Minor people during their life in their ancestral homes. Their long presence in the land of Ionia contributed to the development of a memorable culture with achievements in all areas of life. This culture remained alive even during the difficult years of the Ottoman occupation, evidence of its strength, which not even the lack of freedom was able to overshadow. Therefore, with the huge wave of refugees of 1922-1923, this culture spread throughout Greek society and constituted a unique element in the formation of the national identity of the 20th century.
The Historical Archive of the Refugee Hellenism organized an Educational Program dedicated exclusively to the Folk Culture of Asia Minor Hellenism. The program took place from 1-10-2001 to 31-4-2002. Participating were students of Kalamaria High Schools who, in the role of researchers, under the guidance of their instructors and teachers, interviewed their first and second generation refugee relatives, conducted archival research in the collections of the HARH and created short stories about life in the places of origin, as well as about the exchange.

The Last Hellenism of Asia Minor. Changing Homeland, Changing Lives (Program of 2003)

The Asia Minor Catastrophe of 1922 violently ended the three-thousand-year presence of Hellenism on the land of Asia Minor. The origins of the history of Greek communities can be traced to the colonization of the first millennium before Christ. Both in antiquity and during the Byzantine Empire, a prosperous economic and cultural community developed on the coast and in the inland of Asia Minor, with great achievements in all areas of life. Even during the dark period of Ottoman rule, the Greek community of Asia Minor continued to flourish and dominate mainly on the Aegean coast, Pontus and the wider region. However, the Young Turk movement dealt a final blow to the Hellenism of Ionia and methodically sought its annihilation. The genocide of the Greeks of Pontus and the Asia Minor Catastrophe were the swan song of the once blossoming Romiosiny and led hundreds of thousands of people to be uprooted from their homes. However, they never gave up, they settled in Greece and worked hard to create their new homelands. The majority of them succeeded and, as bearers of a different way of life, customs and traditions, they played a decisive role in the formation of modern Greek identity.
The primary purpose of the Historical Archive of Refugee Hellenism is the search for, preservation and promotion of the culture of Greek refugees of every era, with the exchanged refugees of 1922-1924 playing a prominent role in its research. Consequently, everything that has to do with the Greek community of Asia Minor is part of the research interests of our Archive. In this context, in 2003 a research project was carried out entitled: “The Last Hellenism of Asia Minor. Changing Homeland, Changing Life”, which was accompanied by an exhibition of photographic and archival material. This topic was thoroughly presented both by lectures and by rich audiovisual material, creating an excellent result, lively, useful and instructive. The educational program, which was implemented by the staff of HARH, was attended by high school students from schools of Kalamaria, and at the end of the program an event was held to mark the 80th anniversary of the Asia Minor Catastrophe.

Sports in the Refugee Settlements of Thessaloniki (Program of 2004)

The Greek communities of the East, throughout time, have had great achievements in culture. The arts and sciences played a primary role in their everyday life and in all fields, such as literature, philosophy and architecture, where great development was observed. Their activity in the field of sports was also enviable. Refugees founded sport clubs that occasionally played a leading role in the athletic activities of their time, both individually and collectively. Besides, this type of association promoted unity and a common identity for the community. Thus, after the Asia Minor Catastrophe, the refugees, coming back to their new homelands, wanted to engage in athletic activities again and set up groups, only this time the clubs were not only bearers of unity and identity but also of memory. They were a link to the Unforgotten Homelands they had been forced to leave against their will. The result could not have been any different, since the refugee clubs again became and still are protagonists and even today are among the biggest teams in Greece, such as PAOK, AEK and even Panionios. Not only that, but all of them retain their refugee character intact, despite the passing of almost a century since the Asia Minor tragedy.

Refugee sports is also an extremely interesting field of historical research, since the study of it yields a lot of information and many useful conclusions about the social life of refugees and, by extension, about the nature of social life in their places of origin. The Historical Archive of Refugee Hellenism of the Municipality of Kalamaria, whose aim is to investigate every aspect of life and activity, both in the place of origin and in the place of settlement, in 2004 organized an educational program dedicated to the sports of refugees, specifically in the case of Thessaloniki. The educational program, which lasted for a long time, was attended by pupils of the 5th and 6th grade from the primary schools of Kalamaria and was carried out in cooperation with the creative employment workshop “Schedia (Raft)”. After its completion, an event was held to present the results. This educational program was held in the framework of the European Heritage Days.

Historical events often inspire artistic creation, either by people who experienced the events or by those who learned about them afterwards. After all, historical fiction is a branch of literature.

In this context, two competitions in short story and poetry have been held to date, in which hundreds of participants, including Greeks from abroad, have taken part.

1st Panhellenic Literary Competition: “The Disinfection Station of Kalamaria”

2nd Panhellenic Literary Competition: “The Blockage of Kalamaria”

The Disinfection Station of Kalamaria

Many of the refugees who arrived in Kalamaria in the period 1919-1923 went through the ordeal of the disinfection station, since, as soon as they arrived in their new homeland, they were invited to live an unprecedented experience of disinfection, followed by isolation and confinement in quarantine. For many of them, this bad experience constituted a trauma which they were unable to cure until their old age. The procedure was inhumane, especially for women, whose hair cutting was a blow to their gender and femininity, turning this cold procedure, on medical orders, into an irreparable trauma.

In 2010, the Historical Archive of Refugee Hellenism organized a literary competition on the theme “The Disinfection Station of Kalamaria” in order to give the opportunity to people with an artistic impulse to portray this special experience of the refugees, as it is so powerful that it can inspire even those who have not experienced it. Also, the literary texts submitted are addressed to a wider audience that is not looking for the historical details of the events, but can learn through the artworks about aspects of history, mobilize collective memory and raise individual awareness.

1st Prize of 1st HARH Literary Competition

“In the Backwash”

Watching you shine in the backwash,

forcibly detached from me.

Hot water, green soap,

And a vapor that burns me up.

The smell of bodies, the smell of pain so heavy,

hovering between us.

To wash the homeland from my skin

Persistently. They burn me. They burn you.

I think they’re taking you away from me forever,

to your wasted children, your generation.

to your wasted children, your generation.

You’re becoming a black groove in my body,

You stand and mingle in the new soil,

to remind me that your seed now

is planted in the new earth.

Athena Rossi

The Blockage of Kalamaria

On 13 August 1944, the so-called “Blockage of Kalamaria” took place, when the German occupiers and their local collaborators executed 11 residents in retaliation for the death of a member of the Security Battalions. This heinous crime was carried out under the pretext of their participation in resistance activities, but it was actually premeditated, as the perpetrators possessed a list of 30 names of citizens with left-wing activities and beliefs. Their heinous work was thwarted by a ploy of Mayor Demetrios Pavlidis, who organized a feast for the battalionists to distract them from their cause.

In 2013, the Historical Archive of Refugee Hellenism organized a literary competition on the theme “The Blockage of Kalamaria” with many important objectives, such as paying tribute to the executed and the ongoing struggle against historical oblivion and the darkness of fascism. The HARH wanted to make the public aware of a relatively unknown historical event, placing it in the history of the Resistance. This original theme was chosen to be implemented through a literary competition, with individuals invited to participate with poems and short stories.

The competition was very successful. The award-winning works were recited on September 17, 2014 at the Heroes’ Square on August 13, 1944, the day of the traditional memorial service for the heroic dead.

1st Prize of the 2nd HARH Literary Competition

“The Blockage of Kalamaria”

Forty-four years of one thousand nine hundred

August thirteen, the thirteenth day of the Sun before the dawn,

Bitter-tasting fruits sprouted with violence

In the garden of Kalamaria they blossomed and bloomed.

Frightened by the sounds of heavy footsteps

Of the coming dances of grey-black deaths

Away flew Morpheus, the dreams were orphaned

Breaths of peaceful sleep, bed warmth, hated.

The lambs of his universal humanity sworn

By fascism’s mindless beings encircled

Fell prey to same language speaking co-religionist! Traitors!

Eleven lads fell! All patriots!

Fruits of violence, food for the insatiable hunger of evil,

Barrier of secrets, in the feast of a Banquet Manifest!

Before the altar-school, they have confessed the abominable

The guilt of Pilate’s frightened toleration.

Ten Lives of Men and a Woman, poems

Sacred icons of liberty’s image.

But the cry of a woman in full bloom

In her mouth the Earth took her eternal song.

A song varied with the color of heartbreak

The land and sea and the stars of heaven hear it!

The fertile soil, Pontus, the blue wave

In song, their first home, first step.

Uprooting, thud of a thousand-year-old fallen tree!

Mother of the Motherland, a corner, a nest of the persecuted,

Your child, accept! I sweat! I’m sowing! Arts, Letters!

A universal friendship and peace!

The blood the times have drunk the wine to quench their thirst.

Water from the Abyss shall not be drunk, memories shall not rest!

To the fountains of remembrance as Initiates, drink communion.

Anti-fascists, fight the injustice of the world!

Song of the Earth, we hear you and we are all present

Heroes of Kalamaria, requiem eternam you,

You who have fallen asleep, you who sigh in silence!

To the living, to the fighters there will be no rest!

Chrysanthi Syropoulou-Lambou

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