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.

The Pain Still Felt Today

From Ruhi D. a first-year pre-business major: Today, about 70 years after the end of the second world war, the effects of the Holocaust are still felt today. Each picture holds a memory. Each memorial is filled with tears. And each site still echoes with the cries of all the lives lost. The air around each site gets thicker and thicker, and each site visited feels just a little bit harder to breathe in. The aura around each camp or memorial transports you back in time to feel a fraction of the pain felt by the innocent people not even a century ago. Each camp feels so alive, yet so dead at the same time. Alive from the fresh memories [...]

2018-01-23T09:39:00+00:00 January 23rd, 2018|Human Rights in Poland (Winter 2017)|

Our Duty as Humans

From Ruhi D. a first-year pre-business major: We often forget that part of our duty as humans is to act humanely. When atrocities such as the holocaust occur it causes us to pause and question how such a large group of people seem to have lost their humanity when treating innocent humans the way they did. Not only were humans treated like they were worse than the scum on the bottom of your shoe, but their mere identity as a human was stripped from them. If they weren’t immediately sent to a death camp, they were forced to toil away years in a labor camp where many suffered tremendously before perishing. However, even during this terrible time there was sometimes [...]

2018-01-23T09:34:46+00:00 January 23rd, 2018|Human Rights in Poland (Winter 2017)|


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. a first-year pre-business major: 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 [...]

2018-01-23T09:25:39+00:00 January 5th, 2018|Human Rights in Poland (Winter 2017)|


An update from Angela W., a senior studying biochemistry and human rights: After two weeks in several large cities, ancient towns, and deserted forests, I have been analyzing my reactions to the various Holocaust sites I have been able to see with the Embrey Human Rights pilgrimage to Poland. I am incredibly grateful that I came: the trip was pretty different from what I was expecting. After talking to several of my friends who had been on this trip previously, they made me think that Holocaust Poland would make me change career plans and take a swan dive into nonprofit work. I expected to be sobbing at the end of every visit after seeing the devastation that occurred in those [...]

2018-01-19T11:45:07+00:00 January 4th, 2018|Human Rights in Poland (Winter 2017)|
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