Summer 2017 Dates
May 26 – July 3, 2017
Applications open on December 1. The deadline to apply is February 9, 2017.
Professor Karen Auerbach
Department of History
Poland was one of the heartlands of Jewish civilization from pre-modern times to the Second World War, giving rise to many of the most important religious, cultural and political developments in Jewish history and in the contemporary Jewish world. This seminar will take students to Poland and Lithuania to visit the neighborhoods where Jews lived before the genocide of approximately 6 million European Jews; the synagogues where they prayed and the cemeteries where they were buried; mass graves in forests; and the ordinary places where the crematoria of the Nazi camps were located. Through these physical reminders of the murdered Jewish populations and other victim groups, students will examine competing narratives of memorials and museums built in different postwar periods and by different groups as well as the country’s grappling with this history’s significance for contemporary politics and national identities.
These visits will connect memory of the Holocaust with the cities, towns, and Nazi camps where the events took place, helping us to understand a central problem in studying this history: how to approach a past that is both part of the mundane world and therefore explicable, but also, according to those who experienced it, a world seemingly impenetrable to those who did not.
Studying the Holocaust in Eastern Europe, particularly during visits to sites of genocide, can be an intensive experience. Students should take this into account before deciding to undertake this seminar. All students will meet individually with the faculty director before the trip and in regular small-group discussions during the trip during which they will have an opportunity to reflect on the often emotionally charged content of Holocaust sites.