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Students travel to Germany and Poland on “Holocaust and Genocide Studies” Dialogue of Civilizations

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Group photo in front of the Jewish Museum in Munich

Northeastern students from many disciplines spent five weeks this summer in Germany and Poland to study the history, politics, and memorialization of the Holocaust.  Led by Professor Natalie Bormann (Political Science) and PhD Candidate Veronica Czastkiewicz (Political Science), the 21 students made stops in Munich, Nuremberg, and Berlin. They then took the Berlin-Warsaw Express to Warsaw and Krakow to visit memorial sites, museums, research centers, and to attend lectures, seminars, and workshops related to the study of the Holocaust.

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Students in front of the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin

The students went to Dachau and Auschwitz, Schindler’s factory, the former Jewish Ghettos in Warsaw and Krakow, and the New Synagogue in Berlin. They studied the role of ‘helpers’ at the Anne Frank Center; participated in workshops at Villa Wannsee where the `Final Solution was plotted; and explored the significance of international justice in the courtroom where the Nuremberg trials were held.

Students took up some present-day controversies about how to remember the Holocaust, including the role of the ‘stumbling stones’ (commemorative bricks bearing the names of murdered Jews in German cities) and the impact of the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe in Berlin.  They also studied the rise of anti-Semitism in Europe.

In line with the Dialogue’s idea of immersion in the host countries’ cultures and rites, students talked with the Chief Rabbi of Poland, attended a Sabbath dinner at a Jewish youth organization in Warsaw, enjoyed the sunset from the rooftop of the German Reichstag, visited Neuschwanenstein Castle, and consumed countless German Bratwurst and Polish pierogies.

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Students at Nymphenburg Palace in Munich

Students earned eight credits on this Dialogue, the equivalent of one course in Political Science covering the historical and political aspects of the Holocaust, and one course in International Affairs dealing with memorialization of the Holocaust in Germany and Poland.  The Dialogue also counts toward the Jewish Studies minor.

Please see the Dialogue Website here; it contains links to student blogs, the travel itinerary and other information.

Read the rest of the Haverim Fall 2013 Newsletter here.