Category: Blog

Living and Learning Together, Rediscovering a Lost Aspect of Education

Below is a summary of this year’s Holocaust Studies Tour, 2024 The tour this year was, as each one promises to be, a sundry blend of the predictable and repeatable commingled with the new, the unanticipated, and the potently particular. This is the complex base-fabric out of which study abroad experiences are cut. With regard to the new and particular, I was so pleased this time around to be able to meet Dr. Daniel Rottke and Historian Fabian Schwanzar at a place called Alt Rehse, a retreat and resort built by the National Socialists on the western banks of the

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Holocaust Studies Tour, 2024, Day 13

Last Day in Kraków Short and sweet update for today. Most students decided to go to the world-famous (UNESCO World Heritage Site, first list) Wieliczka Salt Mine. However, St. Mary’s church was also visited, as was the Polish Home Army Museum. In the afternoon we had a great wrap-up team-discussion about the tour. We also had a final meal together. Some pictures are below. Tomorrow morning the students fly home. This was such a great group…so blessed!

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Holocaust Studies Tour, 2024, Day 12

Auschwitz I and Auschwitz Birkenau We spent today in Oświęcim, Poland. The Germans, when they came in the Fall of 1939, renamed it Auschwitz. How does one prepare for such a visit? How could my students have possibly been given “informed consent” for what they will experience this day? A few years ago I started to write down some thoughts for them to consider as we approached the camp – the most current version I’ll share below. Pictures from the day will follow. A few words as we approach Auschwitz today. Please prayerfully consider these thoughts. There is so much

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Holocaust Studies Tour, 2024, Day 11

Schindler’s Factory Museum and Free Kraków On our first full day in Kraków, we started off walking from Old Town to the Schindler Factory Museum. On the way we stopped by a 14th century basilica (Corpus Christi), the Ghetto Plaza Memorial, and a small stretch of the ghetto wall. In the afternoon and evening students explored widely what Old Town Kraków has to offer. Some pictures are below feature a Wawel Castle tour, some cultural performances in the Old Town Square, and a classical music concert at the Peter and Paul Cathedral. Tomorrow is Auschwitz I and II (Birkenau). We

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Holocaust Studies Tour, 2024, Day 10

Off to Kraków Most of today was taken up by a 9-hour private bus ride from Berlin to Kraków. We got to our destination with just enough time to take a quick walking tour around the Wawel Castle and Old Town Kraków before we needed to crash and prepare for the next day. A few pics are below. Tomorrow we walk through the old Jewish district, peak-in on Corpus Christi Basilica, take in the ghetto wall and plaza memorial, and then go through the Schindler Factory Museum. Those hearty enough for a lengthy walk will go on to check out

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Holocaust Studies Tour, 2024, Day 9

Alt Rehse and Free Berlin For our last day in Berlin, we split up to follow different interests. About half of us went 2-hours north of Berlin by regional train to a small village called Alt Rehse. Here, the Nazis set up a training facility for medical doctors and midwives. It was a program for medical leadership – i.e., to groom and prepare the next generation of medical professionals to put into practice the racial-hygiene policies and eugenic principles that sat at the heart of the Nazi utopic vision. (This place was constructed to reflect the Nazis understanding of the

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Holocaust Studies Tour, 2024, Days 7 and 8

A U.S. Embassy and two Concentration Camps The last two days featured a meeting in the U.S. Embassy in Berlin with embassy personnel, and our first visit to a concentration camp…two, as a matter of fact. At the embassy we spent an hour or more with Cherrie Daniels, a cultural attaché with the department of public affairs, as well as a few of her graduate interns. We discussed the importance of holocaust awareness and education, and we were informed about some of the policy efforts and international agreements the U.S. State Dept. is spearheading to help return back to their

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Holocaust Studies Tour, 2024, Day 6

Church, Work, and Play On this Mother’s Day Sunday we first made time available for folks to attend a local service. Most students either went to the Berliner Dom (Lutheran) in the morning or an Anglican service that met in the early evening at nearby St. Mary’s (a Catholic church which changed to Lutheran post reformation). Confused yet? In early afternoon we made our way to the south central part of the city where we took in one of Berlin’s most visited museums, The Jewish Museum. Lastly, students found their way to various eating establishments – and a few brave

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Holocaust Studies Tour, 2024, Day 5

House of the Wannsee Conference and Free Berlin Today we first traveled to the southwest of Berlin to the idyllic resort town on the lake named Wannsee. Here, in January of 1942, 15 high-ranking National Socialist government officials gathered to organize the implementation of the final solution to the Jewish question. Around the table sat 8 Ph.D’s and many other highly-educated, highly skilled leaders within the Nazi party. And within 90 minutes they had finished all the needed arrangements and coordinations and adjourned the meeting. Sometimes we go to places which highlight the victims, today we focused on the perpetrators.

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Holocaust Studies Tour, 2024, Day 4

A Day in the City of Luther Today the group boarded a south-bound region train to a different German province, Saxony-Anhalt, and the city of Wittenberg, where we were walked through a guided tour on all things Luther. A pleasant one-day reprieve from our program’s focus. (The “Jewish Pig” display on the outside wall of the City Church of Wittenberg, however, reminds us of just how deeply embedded into the German psyche were the cultural references leveraged by the Nazis.) The main sites we visited were the Lutherhaus, the City Church, and the Castle Church. Pictures are below. Tomorrow we

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