Human Rights-Holocaust Germany 2017

Twenty-eight members of the SMU and DFW community are traveling throughout Germany March 9-18 to study the Holocaust. “In confronting historical sites of unmitigated, premeditated terror, we’ll come to grips with historical memory as it applies not only in Germany, but also in our own country,” says Rick Halperin, director of the trip’s sponsor, SMU’s Embrey Human Rights Program.

Recalling the victims, and planners, of the ‘Final Solution’

  The Wannsee Conference was a high-level meeting of Nazi SS and government officials that took place in this mansion near Berlin on Jan. 20, 1942. It’s chilling to realize the meeting’s participants agreed to the “Final Solution” in a house that had once belonged to a Jewish family. An update from Paul Lake of Dallas, who works as a volunteer at the Dallas Holocaust Museum/Center for Education & Tolerance: Source: The Mourner's Kaddish, an ancient Hebrew “Prayer for the Dead,” is often read at Holocaust sites to remember the people of all faiths and backgrounds who were brutalized by the Nazis. Thus, it was an honor for my wife, Catherine, and I to share its powerful words at [...]

2017-04-13T13:36:29+00:00 April 13th, 2017|Human Rights-Holocaust Germany 2017|

Rev. Niemöller’s Other Warning About Complacency

Lutheran Pastor Martin Niemöller penned his famous lines about resistance during a postwar speaking tour in the U.S. An update from Merle T. of Dallas: When Sachsenhausen opened 20 miles north of Berlin in 1936, it was meant to be both a model camp and training facility. That made it particularly well suited for "special" prisoners, including such political dissidents as Martin Niemöller, a popular Lutheran pastor in Germany. Niemöller initially supported Hitler. When the men first met, the Nazi candidate assured the theologian that Jews would be "humanely" removed from Germany for their own safety – and that none of Niemöller's flock would be harmed. Later, when the Nazis decreed (via the "Aryan paragraph") that German citizens with even one-quarter Jewish [...]

2017-03-28T13:55:57+00:00 March 28th, 2017|Human Rights-Holocaust Germany 2017|

Remembering homosexual victims of the Holocaust

An update from SMU junior Will J.: Buchenwald is mostly remembered for its large number of political prisoners, but I'd like to highlight a smaller group of prisoners who too often are forgotten. Embedded within Buchenwald's main gate is the slogan "Jedem das Seine." Literally it means "to each his own"; figuratively it means "everyone gets what he deserves." Buchenwald is one of the few camps that had a large population of homosexuals, whom the Nazis considered threats to the survival of the German people. Here, as at other camps, gay men were were treated as the lowest of the low among camp prisoners, and subjected to unimaginably horrific torture that included having their testicles boiled off; being sodomized with [...]

2017-03-27T17:56:21+00:00 March 24th, 2017|Human Rights-Holocaust Germany 2017|

Forevermore an ‘Upstander’ & ‘World Changer’

An update from Misty I., pursuing a human rights & social justice M.L.S.: While taking Dr. Rick Halperin’s course “America’s Dilemma: The Struggle for Human Rights” in the fall of 2016, each Monday evening I found myself sickened, angry and heartbroken to learn intricate details of past and present-day atrocities. I convinced myself that taking the “Holocaust Germany Trip” would be just a mere extension of that class. Unbeknownst to me, it was far from “mere” in any respect. The opportunity to walk the grounds, touch the buildings and comprehend the horror Holocaust victims experienced was well beyond anything I could have imagined. Traversing each concentration camp was surreal. With each step, I became spiritually connected to the tortured individuals [...]

2017-03-24T02:12:54+00:00 March 21st, 2017|Human Rights-Holocaust Germany 2017|

‘Everything in space had its origins here, not in America or Russia’ An update from Denise Gee of SMU News & Communications: On March 14, 2017, SMU "Holocaust Germany" student travelers Alexis S., and Kaitlyn M., offered the memorial for the victims, survivors and liberators of the deadly Mittelbau-Dora concentration camp near Nordhausen in central Germany. The Nazi-run camp, which operated mostly underground, was created in late summer 1943 as a subcamp of Buchenwald concentration camp, and most notably served as a hidden facility for building the V-2 rocket and the V-1 flying bomb. In the summer of 1944, Mittelbau became an independent concentration camp with its own numerous sub-camps. In 1945, most of the surviving inmates of Mittelbau-Dora were evacuated by the SS. On April 11, 1945, U.S. troops freed the [...]

2017-03-24T02:13:44+00:00 March 20th, 2017|Human Rights-Holocaust Germany 2017|

‘Photography describes everything and explains nothing’

The Topography of Terror Museum in Berlin sits atop the bombed-out site of where the Gestapo headquarters once stood. An update from Denise Gee with SMU News & Communications. At Berlin’s Topography of Terror Museum we gather to look at one of the Holocaust’s most iconic photographs. Given the name “The Last Jew in Vinnitsa”  (from what was written on the back of the picture), it was found in an album belonging to an unknown German soldier. The picture shows a member of Einsatzgruppe D just about to shoot a Jewish man kneeling before a filled mass grave in Vinnitsa, Ukraine, circa 1942. All 28,000 Jews from Vinnitsa and its surrounding areas were massacred at the time. To view [...]

2017-03-18T03:12:00+00:00 March 16th, 2017|Human Rights-Holocaust Germany 2017|

‘Silent Liquidation’ at Bernburg

  Some 14,000 people judged as threats to German genetic superiority were secretly murdered at the Bernburg Euthanasia Center in eastern Germany. (Photo: Robert M. Peacock) An update from Christie Pearson '11, faculty-led program specialist for SMU Abroad: The Bernburg Euthanasia Centre – one of six psychiatric hospitals used to covertly kill 70,273 people during the Holocaust – operated from Nov. 21, 1940 through July 30, 1943 in support of the Third Reich's T4 euthanasia program. The Nazis' 1933 Law for the Prevention of Hereditarily Diseased Offspring mandated the compulsory sterilization of anyone of child-bearing age whose mental or physical conditions – from depression to deafness, alcoholism to "congenital imbecility" – might potentially weaken the German gene pool. The killings at Bernburg, via gas [...]

2017-03-16T02:46:05+00:00 March 14th, 2017|Human Rights-Holocaust Germany 2017|

Remember Jacqueline – and ‘Be Not Silent’

SMU students Shivani Burra, left, and Narcey Negrete lead a tribute at the Bullenhuser Damm Memorial Garden in Hamburg, noting that 1.5 million children were killed during the Holocaust. Jacqueline Morgenstern (1932-1945) An update from Denise Gee, SMU News & Communications: As a leader in the far-right party Alternative for Germany calls for the country’s Holocaust-related “cult of guilt to be over,” I can think of at least 11 million reasons why the most meticulously documented genocide in history shouldn’t be downplayed. One of them is 12-year-old Jacqueline Morgenstern. On April 20, 1945, she and 19 other children, some as young as 5, were murdered at the request of SS doctors aiming to remove all evidence of their [...]

2017-03-13T17:28:48+00:00 March 13th, 2017|Human Rights-Holocaust Germany 2017|