Human Rights in Germany Spring2011

During spring break 2011, students, faculty and staff are visiting Holocaust sites in Germany.

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‘To each his own’

An update from Zohra, a junior pre-law and psychology major with minors in human rights and Latin:

031711

'Jedem Das Seine' sign at BuchenwaldToday’s heavy fog and rain was only fitting for our camp visits.

The Buchenwald camp site was expansive and highly realistic in the thick fog present. The camp had been liberated by American forces shortly after the abandoned prisoners had taken over the entire camp. The clock at the main entrance stands at 3:15 p.m. – the time at which the prisoners had been able to take over the camp. This camp’s entrance gate was highly unique: instead of the usual “Arbeit Macht Frei” (Work will set you free), the gate instead had “Jedem Das Seine” (To each his own) across the entry gate.

Cart used to transport corpses at BuchenwaldIt seemed that this was the case because throughout the camp there was death. However in their servitude and death prisoners were in groups, never considered as individuals by the Nazis. For example, even in death a cart (at right) was used to pile and carry the corpses from the various killing sites on the camp to the crematorium or the corpse cellar.

World cemetery at Flossenburg
Memorial church at Flossenburg Jewish memorial at Flossenburg

After Buchenwald we went to Flossenbürg: the fog accompanied us, but here in the mountains there were also clumps of snow. The cold weather conditions really do put it into perspective, especially for a cold-sensitive individual like myself. The camp is carved within a former mountain village and royal castle.

Inside the memorial church at FlossenburgAs part of the memorial, there is (clockwise from top left) a world cemetery, a Jewish memorial, and a church dedicated to all lost at Flossenbürg. As we trekked up and down the mountainside throughout this camp we all sat and took a moment of silence and solace in the church, regardless of all of our religions/beliefs (we have people of all three monotheistic faiths on this trip). Praying in the church (at right) for all of us was a welcome refuge from the terrible landscape and history of Flossenbürg.

At the end a group of us set out to enjoy the city afterwards as has become our routine: It helps us to counter the immense sadness that we witness since sun-up.
At dinner in GermanyThis group bonding at German-speaking restaurants needless to say leads to much confusion for all of us. (We can barely speak German with a translator around; reading and comprehending it without a guide, chaos ensues.) Regardless of our lingual problems, we all come together and celebrate our new-formed friendships that are blossoming in Germany. This support system helps us as we go through the various camps and even when we visit Italian-German restaurants. (This is our group from dinner tonight.)

It’s interesting to note, by the way, that Germany has a range of multicultural food: from Cambodian to Mexican-Spanish to Italian. In fact, this trip has opened a window for us into the highly diverse German culture that exists today. It is truly nice to know from time to time that it is so contrasting to the bigoted ideas from not 50 years ago.

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