Human Rights, France

Eighteen students, faculty and staff from SMU and Dallas are traveling to France during spring break 2014 to study the role that country played in the Holocaust, when Nazi-occupied France deported 76,000 Jews to be murdered in or en route to extermination camps.

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Bearing witness today

An update from Amber, a junior political science and human rights major:

When I decided to come to France with the Human Rights group, I didn’t really know what to expect. As a Human Rights major, I have been exposed to some of the worst examples of human rights violations. On this trip we visited multiple Holocaust memorial sites and I realized that no matter how much you are exposed to the violation of human beings, it never becomes any easier to accept or understand. It is just as hard to bear witness today as it was when I first began my Human Rights journey. I am reminded that humanity is capable of great good and great harm, and it is up to us to be sure that we do not veer down the path of harm. Part of that is never forgetting….

I have included two pictures. The first is a picture of children from the Izieu Orphanage and School. On April 6, 1944, a total of 44 children and 7 adult teachers were forcibly removed and thrown into cars by the Gestapo. They were sent to deportation camps and soon thereafter exterminated, some within days.

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The second picture is from Oradour-sur-glane. This village was attacked on June 10, 1944 by a German SS-Waffen troop. The men were forced into barns, shot and the barns set on fire. The women and children were forced into the church and burned alive. A total of 642 people were killed and the village was razed; this is all that is left. The site now serves as a memorial to those who lost their lives that day.

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