Friday, July 30, 2010
Thursday, July 29, 2010
Tuesday, July 27, 2010
Sunday, July 25, 2010
Thursday, July 22, 2010
Wednesday, July 21, 2010
Tuesday, July 20, 2010
Monday, July 19, 2010
Sunday, July 18, 2010
Friday, July 16, 2010
Then we drove to Lublin, where the buildings of the ghetto where Jews were held for deportation remain much like they were before the war. Only around 25 Jews live in Lublin today. Before the war there were around 35,000 which was a third of Lublin's population. Walking informally around the city this afternoon, we saw and heard that antisemitism remains today in Lublin.
In the evening after dinner in the hotel, we gathered to reflect on our experiences so far and some tears fell.
Tomorrow we visit the nearby concentration camp at Majdanek and then drive on to Zamosc.
Thursday, July 15, 2010
We visited the only synagogue remaining in Warsaw, the Nosyk Synagogue, and had a group picture taken after we offered flowers at the Warsaw Ghetto Fighters Memorial.
Because the Warsaw Ghetto was leveled by the Germans during the Uprising, there is not a lot to see that remains from the war, but we saw bits and pieces of the ghetto wall and noted the locations of events that were significant in the armed Jewish resistance, including the small area (Umschalgplatz) where Jews were brought to be collected by the Nazis and their collaborators. The ghetto walls enclosed 350,000 people in an area of two-and-one-half square miles until there were not any people left.
That is where we were today.
Tonight we attend a private Chopin recital.
The hotel we are in is called the Bristol; below my window is the courtyard of the presidential palace.
Tomorrow we leave here for the site of the pre-war shtetl of Kazimierz Dolny, the Majdanek concentration camp, and Lublin.
My computer and internet problems have followed me to Poland. I have a short film about our visit to Wannsee to share, but the internet pipe here is narrow and so far has not been able to carry it to you.
I have a lot of footage in the can, but I spend my time getting things to work rather than creating.
I will stay on it, however.
I hope you are well, and again, thank you for joining me.
Wednesday, July 14, 2010
Yesterday we visited the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp, about four hours west of Berlin. In addition to touring the grounds and a commemorative museum, we met with German teachers from the Bergen-Belsen area in small groups. I was very impressed with the sincere effort Germans are making to honestly and straightforwardly deal with their past. These weren't bureaucrats or functionaries, they were teachers like us. I saw some social studies textbooks for high school students that go into great depth about the Holocaust and connect that history to social issues in contemporary German society.
Tomorrow we visit the area of the Warsaw Ghetto and attend a Chopin concert.
Monday, July 12, 2010
The railroad station and the surrounding neighborhood struck me the most, the place where Jews were assembled to be shipped by train for murder at death camps in Poland. It's in mixed upper middle class neighborhood where many affluent Jews lived.
It was my second visit to Wannsee and the Memorial; Judy, Lily and I visited 3 1/2 years ago when Lily was studying in Holland and we visited over Christmas break and then drove to Berlin. Today, Dr. Thomas Lutz spoke to us at the documentation center of the site for the German state police apparatus, a site that is adjacent to the remnants of the Berlin Wall by the way.
Tomorrow we travel by bus to the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp in northwest Germany.
Sunday, July 11, 2010
Saturday, July 10, 2010
He added, however, that we should indeed be teaching about other genocides and other matters of social justice. He said creating an identification with the Holocaust is a good place to start because it is so compelling. We use it to create empathy. He said we should start with the Holocaust as a way of getting to human rights.
As educators we have to respect the perspective of our students, especially when it creates responses that run counter to our own perspectives. What I'm hearing here is that we need also not to overgeneralize or offer up false analogies. Teachers are guilty of that, too, sometimes you know. Stick to the facts. That's what I'm hearing. We need to know what we are talking about.
I put together a movie today about our visit to Yad Vashem. I had to leave off the ending I wanted to use because YouTube said I was taking up too much of their space, but in any case I thinks it's pretty good and I hope I can get it posted tonight. It's 11:44 P.M. and the porter is coming for our bags at 12:30. We're getting on the bus at 1:00 for an hour ride to Tel Aviv so we can be at the airport three hours early for Israeli security. Sunday we arrive in Berlin for a new phase of the tour. It's already amazing and I think you'll get a sense of that from the movie.
Today we visited Mosada and the Dead Sea. I floated, swam is the wrong word, in the Dead Sea today and I can still feel the oil on my skin after two showers. It was 120 degrees at the Dead Sea today. Mosada was also great and I enjoyed seeing the countryside on the way there. I'll have more later on the tourist stuff.
I'm really getting a lot out of this trip and I've met some wonderful people and I appreciate you following along. I would love to hear from everyone.
Friday, July 9, 2010
We also heard from our last instructor, Irena Steinfeldt, the director of the Department of the Righteous Among the Nations. Like the other three teachers for our program, Irena emphasized the importance of establishing context, and addressing free will and individuality in our teaching. She also said that we should avoid self-righteousness with our students, something I know I need to be more careful about. She was a great speaker, making her points by using the stories of two rescuers. Two thousand rescuers have been honored so far on the site. Steinfeldt said it is impossible to profile them; that no matter what characteristic each one has, it is possible to find a perpetrator with the same characteristics.
Professor Yehuda Bauer told us yesterday that the Holocaust is unprecedented, and that the study of it enhances the study and awareness of other genocides. What makes it unprecedented? They were killed for no reason other than that they were Jews. Killing Jews was not incidental, killing every Jew was an aspect of the Nazi ideology.
Of course the subject matter is compelling in and of itself, but I must say the instructors we have been provided here are truly outstanding.
You should check out the Yad Vashem website it's one of the buttons there to your left.
Yesterday evening we ate dinner with two Israeli high school teachers of the Holocaust and then discussed our respective challenges.
Also today, we visited old Jerusalem, the Wailing Wall, and many other significant Jewish and Christian sites including the Garden of Gethsemane.
Well, it looks like my technical problems have been solved. My technical problem was that first both and then one of my bags had been lost in the Frankfort airport since Wednesday. The second one just arrived so I hope I can start uploading some pictures soon.
Thursday, July 8, 2010
She told us to teach what was lost, not numbers but things significant to the individual, like music, art, and sports. Things with meaning to children.
She talked about our ability to find and give meaning. She talked about dilemma and about how by nature the moral question makes for humanness. A sense of humanity in the Holocaust is a form of resistance.
Complexity. She said. Acknowledge in our teaching, make the students understand that the Holocaust is not one story.
We have choice.
Then we toured the museum. Then we heard from Prof. Guy Meron on 19th & 20th century Jewish and non-Jewish Europe.
Next is Prof. Yehuda Bauer followed by a discusion with Israeli teachers.
Still having some technical difficulties, but I am collecting video & pictures to send later.
I can't proofread this so for if I have erred I will fix that later.
Wednesday, July 7, 2010
Monday, July 5, 2010
We assembled at 2:00 P.M. in a classroom at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum to become acquainted, go over procedure for the trip, and begin our study.
Elaine Culbertson and Steve Feinberg are trip coordinators and will accompany 25 teachers from around the United States.
We focused today on artifacts and photographs in the permanent exhibit, making notes on those that made the greatest impression on us as we toured, and then discussed them as a group in the classroom and after dinner.
The biggest impressions seemed to be from those exhibits that tell a personal story: one rail car, shoes, a pair of eyes connecting to our souls from a photograph. I made a comment about the exhibits that illustrate the frightening rationality of the Third Reich, for example, official government posters that illustrated racial identity.
Tomorrow, Tuesday, is a travel day. A long travel day. After meeting again in the morning at the museum, we assemble at 1:00 P.M. in the hotel lobby for the ride to the airport. From Dulles we fly to Frankfurt, lay over for a bit, and then go on to Tel Aviv, where we arrive at 3:00 P.M. local time Wednesday. There is a seven hour time difference between E.S.T. and the time in Israel.
So far, so good. You may not hear from me for a couple of days.
Friday, July 2, 2010
Marvin Hier: Nothing since can (or should) be called a Holocaust
By MARVIN HIER
July 1, 2010
Political discourse in the United States has been saturated with opponents accusing each other of Nazi-like behavior. Recently, California Attorney General Jerry Brown likened the attack ads of Meg Whitman, his Republican opponent in the race for governor, to the tactics employed by Nazi propaganda chief Josef Goebbels.
Last week, Sarah Palin criticized President Obama's handling of the BP crisis in a tweet to followers recommending they read an article by Thomas Sowell that compared Adolph Hitler's use of a financial crisis to give himself dictatorial powers to Obama's role in creating the BP escrow fund.
A few months ago, speaking about the controversial Arizona immigration bill, Lillian Rodriguez Lopez of the Hispanic Federation reportedly compared the measure to tactics used by the Nazis in Germany.
The Holocaust was a watershed event in the history of mankind, in which 6 million Jews were exterminated -- one-third of the world's Jewish population. But today the word is used in ways that cheapen it.
Last fall, Democratic Rep. Alan Grayson of Florida spoke on the House floor about the need for universal health care, saying that Americans die every year because they lack insurance. "I apologize," he said, "that we haven't voted sooner to end this holocaust in America."
In 2007, former Arkansas governor and Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee used the word in speaking out against abortion -- "the holocaust of liberalized abortions under a flawed Supreme Court ruling in 1973."
And syndicated columnist David Sirota recently applied the term to the BP gulf oil disaster, saying, "Every American who uses oil is incriminated in this ecological holocaust."
The continued trivialization of the word prompted Elie Wiesel, Nobel laureate and chronicler of the Holocaust, to discontinue using it.
There are many injustices in our world, even in our own country. Standing up to them is our obligation. But that obligation does not include demeaning the word that has come to stand for the great evil that was the Holocaust.
The Holocaust was a total eclipse of humanity. It was not about going to the back of the line or eating in a different part of the restaurant or being escorted to the border without recourse.
The Holocaust was the story of ordinary Germans: students, doctors, men and women of culture, who were not demented, who listened to Bach and Beethoven, who loved their families, who were not diagnosed as psychopaths, but who nonetheless for six years rounded up men, women and children and escorted them to the gas chambers.
That was the Holocaust. It is not the BP oil disaster, it is not health care, it is not the Arizona law, it is not the attack ads of Meg Whitman, it is not abortion, and it is not even horrific violations of civil rights.
If you were to try to call out 2,000 of the names every day of the 6 million who perished, it would take more than eight years to complete the task.
Rabbi Marvin Hier is the founder and dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center. He wrote this article for the Los Angeles Times.
© 2010 Star Tribune. All rights reserved.
I've taken the You Tube bar off the top of this blog because some things were popping up there that I did not intend to endorse. I have created by own channel on You Tube, however, and the items I've posted there have my seal of approval.
Enjoy Independence Day.