Human Rights in Poland (Winter 2017)

Thirty-five members of the SMU community took a study tour of Holocaust sites in Poland Dec. 18-30. Led by SMU Embrey Human Rights Program Director Rick Halperin, the group visited cities and death camps throughout Poland, where, during World War II, some 5,000,000 people were murdered during the Nazi, Germany, occupation.


From Lauren J., a junior studying biology and ethics: As I reflect over my experiences during this trip, I realize that it is about the convergence of the past and the present. It is about preserving the memory of the horrific events of the Holocaust. As Dr. Halperin mentioned to our group, some people have never even heard of some of the sites that we visited. It is our duty to come to these places and acknowledge what happened at each. It is our duty to confront the darkness. We must do this so that we can tell others about it. The more educated people are regarding these atrocities, the less likely it is that they will be repeated in the future. Hatred [...]

2018-01-10T10:23:05+00:00 January 10th, 2018|Human Rights in Poland (Winter 2017)|

Poland Trip Reflections

Reflections from SMU Dedman Law student Alexa Naumovich: Majdanek 12-23-2017 The town is so close to the camp. How can people say they were unaware of what was going on here? The stench of the bodies from the crematoria must have permeated the air. The bullets fired into the trenches must have been heard for miles. The people cannot say they did not know. They knew. But not all bowed their heads in submission. Some attempted to do what they could to draw the world’s eyes to this place of death. A picture in the museum struck me. Taken by a Polish resistance fighter from the town, it showed smoke billowing from the crematoria as viewed from the nearby town. [...]

2018-01-10T11:19:38+00:00 January 7th, 2018|Human Rights in Poland (Winter 2017)|

A wish for ‘the one storm pure enough to cleanse the air’

At the memorial for the victims of the Nazi death camp Chelmno, SMU political science/international studies major Ryan C. ’18 read Lana Hechtman Ayers’ poem “Chelmno” – in which Ayers notes the wait “for the one storm pure enough to cleanse the air, soak through, make everything clear and plump with a love that is impervious to flame …” […]

2018-01-08T11:21:07+00:00 January 5th, 2018|Human Rights in Poland (Winter 2017)|

How ethical are we?

From Ruhi D., How ethical are we actually? This past semester I took a business ethics class where the last topic we discussed had to do with overconfidence of human morality. We like to think of ourselves as beings, that when placed in a difficult situation, would always take the high road. However this is not necessarily the case. In this unit we discussed two types of morality gauges. The first theory explored how we are as ethical as our inner moral compass. Even if you don’t take action on something, as long as you believe it is wrong or feel the wrongness of the situation you are considered an ethical person. The other theory said that we are only [...]

2018-01-05T15:49:33+00:00 January 5th, 2018|Human Rights in Poland (Winter 2017)|

It’s Austere

From Sam W., a senior majoring in biology: There was frost on the willows at Stutthof. Treblinka was blanketed in white. Auschwitz-Birkenau hung heavy with mist and fog. It has just begun to snow at Majdanek. These places aren’t supposed to be pretty. They are supposed to be openings to some void, pits in both the earth and the human narrative.  But, somehow, they are beautiful? Lying beneath, or perhaps above, the wretched history of these sites are places, monuments, and nature so impeccably designed and borne that I dare call them idyllic. It seems so wrong, but these spaces are serene in an unsettling, paranormal way. The wind blew through Chelmno and her forests, the bells of nearby churches [...]

2018-01-10T10:44:44+00:00 January 1st, 2018|Human Rights in Poland (Winter 2017)|

It’s okay not to break

From Sam W., a senior majoring in biology: When I was thinking about coming to Poland with the Embrey Human Rights Program, I talked a lot to people who had gone before. For one friend, the trip changed her life, encouraging her to change her major and enter an entirely different field. For others, it shook and broke them, leaving them in week- or month-long periods of depression. The Poland trip was, and is, that heavy. I looked forward to this. I wanted to experience this seemingly mystical transformation. Now, the actor in me should have known that expectation is the enemy of experience – and at least so far, I can’t say that I felt the earth shatter. That [...]

2018-01-10T10:39:39+00:00 January 1st, 2018|Human Rights in Poland (Winter 2017)|

First They Came

From Lauren J., a junior studying biology and ethics: At the memorial presentation I made at the Gross-Rosen concentration camp site, I read the poem First They Came, by Martin Niemoller, a German Lutheran pastor who once supported Hitler but then began to oppose the Nazis. Niemoller was then arrested and sent to live in concentration camps. He lived in a concentration camp until it was liberated in 1945. Different versions of his poem exist, but his message is clear. The silence of the German people, particularly the heads of the Protestant churches, during the mass imprisonment and execution of the Jewish people, was wrongful. First They Came First they came for the Jews and I did not speak out because I [...]

2018-01-10T10:18:23+00:00 January 1st, 2018|Human Rights in Poland (Winter 2017)|
Load More Posts