The JFR’s European Study Program to Germany, the Czech Republic, and Austria was both exceptional and exhausting. The design and flow of the study program provided each of us the opportunity to explore and understand different aspects of the Holocaust in greater depth. It was wonderful to have Professor Robert Jan van Pelt back as our scholar-in-residence.
We met at the Munich airport and proceeded to the center of Munich. We walked from the Feldherrnhalle where the 1923 Putsch was stopped to the Haus der Kunst and then to the Koenigsplatz with the still existing buildings that once housed Nazi headquarters. We visited the White Rose Memorial pavement memorial and the White Rose exhibition at Munich’s Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich. We ended our time in Munich at the Munich Documentation Centre. After a long first day, we left Munich for Nuremberg.
In Nuremberg, we visited Court Room 600, which opened early for our group. We then visited the Nuremberg Documentation Centre and the Zeppelinfeld. We traveled to Flossenburg Concentration Camp where Dr. Jorg Skriebelei, Director of the Memorial, met with our group. We were escorted through the camp and visited the two exhibitions at the memorial site. We left Flossenburg for Prague.
In Prague, we visited Holocaust related sites and toured the Jewish Quarter. Our second day in Prague, we went to Theresienstadt.
We left Prague for Hartheim Castle and Mauthausen. Hartheim was one of the T-4 sites. Prior to our arrival at Hartheim, Steven Field, M.D., JFR board member, gave a lecture on the T-4 Program. Some 30,000 men, women, and children were killed immediately upon arrival at Hartheim Castle. From there, we traveled a short distance to Mauthausen, where at least 95,000 prisoners were killed. The day was emotionally exhausting and was perhaps the most difficult day for many.
We ended our Study Program in Vienna where we visited the Vienna Wiesenthal Institute for Holocaust Studies and met with the Director of the Institute. We went to other Holocaust related sites in Vienna.
Throughout our time in Europe, Robert Jan gave lectures on subjects ranging from Holocaust historiography, specific to the site we were visiting, to the history of the Holy Roman Empire, to the Austro-Hungarian Empire, to looted Jewish art. Professor van Pelt was outstanding.
We look forward to hearing from our Study Program participants over this coming school year to see how they have incorporated their time in Germany, the Czech Republic, and Austria into their Holocaust unit of study. We would like to thank the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany (Claims Conference) for their support of this important program.
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