Auschwitz II - Birkenau

From 15 May 2018 to 29 May 2018, students of the Washington University in St. Louis First-Year Program FOCUS visited sites and places related to the history, memory, and representation of the Holocaust in Europe. Through excursions in and around Berlin (Germany), Oswieçim, Krakow, Warsaw and Treblinka in Poland, and Vilnius (Lithuania), the group traced the decision-making, implementation, and experience of the Nazi genocide by different groups.

Students were well-prepared after a year of study in courses with Prof. Anika Walke (History, in Fall of 2017) and Prof. Erin McGlothlin (Germanic Literatures and Languages, in Spring 2018) and were able to gain deeper insights into how contemporary European societies remember and commemorate the history of events that have deeply shaped individual lives, communities, and societies.

This Blog traces the group's exploration of memorial sites and museums. In individual posts and linked material including video, students reflect on the meaning and significance of historical remembrance of a period that till today raise troubling questions about the meaning of human life, responsibility, and social cohesion.