The class that tied into the faculty-led trip was a class about the Holocaust. We arrived in Munich and went to the Center for contemporary history where we learned about the archive and got to look at various primary sources which included a children’s book written by Der Stürmer, an order for the gas from Auschwitz, Rudolf Höss’ personnel file, and letters from survivors. We also got to see in Munich, the documentation center on National Socialism which is a documentation center built on the old site of the Nazi Party headquarters. Some of the buildings are still being used today by local governments and universities. Hitler’s office at the party headquarters is being used by the local University as a music department.
Germany is held up as an example of coming to terms with one’s past history but while I was there we learned that it was complicated. They do memorialize the past but it took them almost 40 years after to create a lot of memorials to the murders that were achieved in the 30s and 40s. They have a head in the right direction.
We went to two Concentration Camps, Buchenwald and Mittlebau Dora. It struck me how little of the camps structure wise was how little of the camps are left having been taken for building material after the war. It was interesting to see how the East and the West memorialized the murders of World War II. It is also very interesting to see how embedded National Socialism was into the society.
From the Berlin Zoo to local tax offices to companies that were old enough to be around during the days of National Socialism the reminders were everywhere of the evils of the past. Also in comparison to the United States where the statues of generals and high government officials of the confederacy are still around standing like heroes rather than traitors to the Union, there are no statues of any Nazis. Even the documentation centers on the perpetrators does not glorify them but makes them human so as that their crimes are taken seriously and people reflect on themselves so that their hatred for others doesn’t consume them.
We ate a lot of interesting food while we were there from German to Turkish to Indian to Korean. It was also very interesting to try products that we had in America but were different for example different flavors of Lays and Fanta. This was a once in a life time experience that I would gladly do again.
Ben Goodman (BA History) spent several weeks of May 2022 in Germany as part of a faculty-led trip linked with a UTC course. Ben had the following to say about study abroad, “Once in a lifetime experience to connect the classroom to the real world.”
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