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tv   Holocaust Scholarship Evolution  CSPAN  February 15, 2020 1:59pm-3:41pm EST

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tries to cut through the fence with wire cutters. that time he did not get caught his two compiled rate -- compadres did. caught,led out, and was and spent 10 days in the cooler. he did escape and was on the loose for a couple of weeks. again, and was caught and they said he was going -- they were going to execute him because he was problematic. instead they sent him back. while he was in the cooler that time is when the great escape took place. he could not participate because he was in the cooler at the time. during world about war two escapes and rescues sunday at 6:30 p.m. eastern on american history tv. next, we hear a discussion about how our understanding of the holocaust has evolved since the end of world war ii.
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scholars talk about the ways in which people engage with and learn about the holocaust, on the internet and in classrooms, historic sites and museums. the lepage center for history at villanova university in pennsylvania hosts the event. >> >> for those of you who are joining us for the first time, my name is jason and i am the center for history and the public interest here at villanova university. how many of your joining us for the first time? quite a few. welcome. we are delighted you are here. briefly, the center is a and ourly new project mission is to bring to bear on a -- a host of contemporary issues. we host public programs like
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these. we have a blog where historians write for us about contemporary hit -- issues from a historical specter. we are in the midst of a collaboration with the philadelphia inquirer to have more historical schaller ship in local journalism. of things herer in kansas and out in the community. if your joining us for the first time, welcome. we are delighted you are here and hope you stay connected to us. andave other programs events for you to attend. we hope this is the beginning of a long relationship with the and villanova university. for those of you tune in on c-span or on our livestream, i should let you know this is the fourth in a series we have done this year on the subject of rigid -- revisit of it -- revisionist history. you may be thinking, is revisionist history a contemporary issue to be addressed?
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if you look in popular culture, you will find references to revisionist history in many places. how many of you happen following the senate impeachment trial, show of hands? you may have heard the president's defense team invoked revision of history two days ago theng the trial and cited new york times 6019 project as the revisionist history project, something we can -- we talked about. our purpose this year has been to explore and challenge the questions about the revision and scholarship that and historical scholarship depends on that revision at the empirical start of the process. with tonight's subject, the holocaust, the word revision can often have more nefarious and insidious affiliations.
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i want to start tonight's event with a joint prepared statement created by the lepage center and i would like to read it in its entirety, if you would allow me to. this year's series of roundtable discussions seeks to -- to explore challenging historical topics and to introduce a public audience to the laser vision necessarily in one's all of historical scholarship. we are aware that in connection with the evenings topic, the term, revisionism, has suggested a willingness to downplay or to deny nazi germany's mid-20 century efforts to exterminate your jewish population. to deny they effort well docket dented -- well-documented history of that.
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to start off on a clear foundation, we believe it is important to reiterate that any honest intellectual discussion of the scholarship on the holocaust must start by analogy with basic historical fact of the holocaust. that said, i want to put this up because we have been disport -- exploring through a series of conversations why revision is important and what the revision we envision relies on. historical scholarship necessitates looking at new sources, it necessitates new examinations, it necessitates expanding the interpretations, bringing in a diversity of perspectives, and it is an evolving process.
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understanding these complex historical events is continually evolving and being enriched by new scholars and scholarship. upon which premise our conversation rests tonight. scholarship is being continually revised, new news, new sources, interpretations, and new scholars. throughout these events and tonight, you will meet scholars fresh perspectives, have done interesting things and research, and helped us figure out what happens and why it matters for today. introduce you to the scholars on our panel who will be here for tonight's is conversation. i will manipulate back to this slide. you may have seen in the promotion for this event that tina grossman in new york city was scheduled to join us. abletunately, she is not
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to be with us this evening but she sends her regards and regrets. me first introduce jennifer rich next to me, the executive director of the row and center for the study of holocaust, genocide, and human rights and assistant professor of sociology. we have a tradition not to create handouts that invariably going to the trash or the recycle them. -- recycle bin. , we phone still and silent encourage you to look at more information online about speakers. seated next to her is devon. he is the professor of history at boston college. his research is focused on were crime trial at the world word to come particular west germany, the west germany holocaust trial. seated next to him is our faculty director and assistant director of european history,
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paul, who is focused on history of everyday life. he has done scholarship on germany, berlin, and we will by learningening more about our scholars and where they come from on the topic and from there, we will dive into the conversation. for now, i will go back to jennifer. allow me to welcome you to the lepage center. the easiest way to get into the conversation is for you to tell us a little about the center you direct and a little about your research in your area of study. jennifer: hi, everybody. i am the executive director for the study of holocaust studies and human rights. it is a bit of a mouthful. we are in glassboro, new jersey. at, certainly, the holocaust, also other genocides.
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one question we are asked most often is so what. now, so we do about it we made this decision this switch our emphasis and push into human rights to answer the so what question that so many students have. my own research focuses on what do themory, generations of those who survived the holocaust know, understand, and remember, and holocaust education. was first in agitation professor and before that, elementary school. indication of how this is remembered and communities. >> we like to say history is both what and how. you come from a sociology background.
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for those not familiar, what does sociology bring to this question? what is the how? it is looking at how people in communities active. what choices they had, what choices they made, what agency they took when they felt they did not have choices. of sociology is on the people and the choices and the communities formed throughout the holocaust and any other issue. >> if i may put you on the spot a little more, is there an example that you might be able to share off the top of your head from the research you have center other work at the , what is the example people might be able to put their minds around? >> one of the most common questions i get in the classes i teach is things like, why didn't people leave? if this what -- if this is what was going to happen, why did
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people not leave when they had the chance? onear stories of families the holocaust who started to leave their hometown and made the choice to go back. with things like, the devil you know is always better than the devil you do not. be one example of agency that people had and their andrstandings at the time reinforcement between community members. one family who talk to another family who who -- you heard a rumor, and that is how decisions were made when they did not know what was ahead of them. another example of community, thinking of my own research, children, would be the , that wouldformed be another example. jason: thank you. we will get much more into that
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as the conversation unfolds. devin, i will put you on the spot next. we are delighted to have you here. welcome to the lepage center. devin: thank you for inviting me here. it is my first time in villanova. i'm excited to speak to all of you. the easiest way to explain my agenda is i started with the story of the aftermath of the holocaust. of the question of, this horrible thing happened. now what do we do? how do we respond to this awful event? onh of that focus has been regal attempts at redress for this criminal trial in particular. i have done a little work on reparations as well, trying to how do this question of
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societies, mainly germany, but also, to some lesser extent, places like the united states where they are not privy trader nations, how they use the law and criminal justice to respond .o this i have expanded questions around oferal strategies i do a lot history of international law as well. on thedone a lot of work history of the holocaust, what historians have said about the holocaust, how our interpretations and understandings of the holocaust not just since 1945, because jewish individuals
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-- while it was ongoing. since the time of the holocaust itself, how our interpretations changed. i have done a fair amount of work on that as well. >> is this something with someboration, what are intersections? >> every other year, i teach a course for judging in the state of florida of all places. so i teach a course. it is interesting to hear the kinds of things judges bring to the table. the way they are different than
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what historians would ask. what choices did people make, why did they make those choices. whether people are following the rule. one exercise we do that is fascinating and slightly disturbing is i distribute of criminaludies cases for mixed-race sexual relations during the 1930's in germany. and i present the laws and how would you respond to this and how this was actually handled in a court of law. judges,most part, the by the law. unjust the laww
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is. on the other hand -- in which want a world judges willy-nilly said i think that is unjust and i will not follow it? far down the rabbit hole can you go? gives you really serious and ethical quandaries. before you refused to force them to resign from the bench. and try and make things less bad? >> fascinating. we will get more into that as we go on this evening. factory director of the lepage center, paul, same question to you. how do you enter this conversation? i would describe myself as an historian of everyday life. in terms of thinking about
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everyday life, it is sometimes hard to imagine ordinary life for everyday life as something that is at all pertinent to talk about, this her endlessly violent criminal act at the middle of the 20th century. looking atfact, violence and the ways people make sense of and tell stories in the actarticipate of violence. tremendous violence don't depend on monsters or don't tend on -- depend on people who are in extraordinary situations. so many people found it so this kindo integrate of violence into ordinary lives.
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you actually teach a class on nokia germany here at villanova. maybe you can talk about that and how you deal with that in the classroom with students and bring up these types of questions with students and people study in the holocaust. my starting point is very much thinking about the humanity of the people with history, by taking seriously their humanity, that is both victims and perpetrators, the germans, jewish germans, polls, people from all over europe, americans, and think about the ways in were in some ways familiar with us.
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they are not going to be an exotic other that we look at and any how can we imagine connection to that, but what is so unsettling is the ways in which their story and experiences make a lot of sense. i always think the best history is not a history that draws a line under the past and tells us what to know, but rather, the history that unsettles the ground beneath our feet and forces us to ask questions about ourselves. matt is very much the ways in which i try to keep those questions and unsettled our complacency even if we are comfortably and villanova in the first part of the 20th century. thank you. i hope that gives you a window into the scholarship we haven't expertise we have.
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to -- in case people want to participate in cyberspace. i've done a little polling of the audience. now and throughout the conversation. room, howof us in the many of you are actively aware there is continual new scholarship on the holocaust? how many of you think, i thought we knew everything we needed to know about this. i want to start with you and bring it back to the question of the revisions of the scholarship. everyone here seems to assume already the scholarship on the holocaust continues to be revised and expanded. can you give the history of the history? >> very long time ago.
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much of the postwar time -- there were two friends with a holocaust biography. one with a history of jews as an element of jewish history, how did jews respond to the holocaust, how did they resist, what kinds of strategies for , howval, how did they die did they make sense of their loved ones, and they treated this like the aspect of a longer history. sometimes, it could remain much and interested in jewish identity. then there was a history of
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perpetrators and of german history. still a story within the history of modern germany, where are the origin points for germany, anti-semitism, nazi is him, all the way back to martin luther, with 1918 and world war i, what are the decision-making purposes to exterminate jews, these kinds of questions. these unconnected historiography is, there were times when we struggled with great hostility between the groups. object -- a lot of german historians were mistrustful of survivortestimony -- testimony that they were overly biased. a lot of jewish historians were distrustful of historians, thinking they were germans.
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cases, it turns out in the 1960's, it later turned out spend time at the end of the war for example. say really only in the 2000's, beginning with the work of the really important historian, he started to get what he termed integrated histories into the holocaust. they tried to bring together the history of the jewish experience of murder and survival and the story,ator side of the that led to this. these were not separate events by definition. the jews were not need -- not merely reacting to initiatives. there was an interaction on there that tried to bring these
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not just in the dialogue but of , there has been an important development to overcome the bifurcation. hasother thing that happened and may be more controversial, has been the history of the holocaust, but theory of genocide -- history of genocide. that this is an example of a broader and more general the way that world war ii as an example of the history of war. yet there are distinctive elements of a specific war that is different from world war i and the civil war, but it is recognizable as a war. genocide, we as have recognizable features with other instances a ministry of fromorld that we can learn
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, precisely to highlight the differences, which are distinct genocide, but of also to recognize the commonality. in some cases, some historians have argued it is kind of an of the genocidal profit multinational european empires, starting in the late 19th empire with the ottoman and the balkans, and stretching into the early 1950's with germans from europe that is kind of a process of what one historian called the unbelieving of europe, so it is a particularly rabid -- of phenomenon. that has gotten some pushback the people who would argue holocaust is if not radically unique, certainly distinct from
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of ethnicesses cleansing in the balkans, for interest -- for instance. >> i think there should be a five minute youtube video. that was fantastic. well done. have got genocide and human rights at the name of your center. you seem to be in the later stages of development, where other questions of rights are integrated into what you do. talk a little about how that came about and how you see the these otherthin dynamics. jennifer: sure. between us in this room and anyone watching at home, we have had a huge debate about the name of our center. and whether it is repetitive to study of the holocaust genocide and human rights. whether holocaust and genocide are repetitive.
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fundamentally, we have landed on the perspective of saying, at least for now, though we expect conversations to go on for thehs, years, decades, holocaust is one of many and unique in its own way. because holocaust education scholars talk about learning from the holocaust in learning about the holocaust, learning about the holocaust test do with learning facts. what happened when to whom and where. learning these nebulous lessons we want to attach to holocaust education, we want students to stick up for the underdog, to question laws when they are just or unjust. generalitieshaps to a we can learn from the holocaust as opposed to about
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the holocaust. human rights, when we think ,bout human rights violations in the holocaust and every other genocide and atrocities and in everyday life, we think about clean water -- water or voting suppression, human rights is meant to give us a broader enbrel or to think about these things. >> one thing we talked about was, how much of the debates between scholars and historian debates ever reach out to the general -- general public and should they? i wonder with your perspective what you think about some of the debates that happen within scholarship circles and how it manifests itself. >> i love that we have somebody people in the audience tonight, it speaks to the way scholars
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talk about this. it is of interest. maybe the answer i would suggest the questions drive a lot of these conversations. rather than thinking about scholarship as a way of formulating answers, think about scholarship as a way of posing new kinds of questions. even in terms of, i suspect not all of you were maybe many of you have heard about the controversy of the 1990's. is about historians who uses similar set of archival data and come to very different about what it means. there was a big debate covered cmc-span at the holocaust's and overflow crowd and part of the question was about how you
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look at these people and perpetrators and what you call them. ordinary men? ordinary germans? is there something particularly about their german us that led them to be willing to participate in maps and -- in mass murder, or is there something more generous -- generally ordinary about them that a variety of different factors appear pressure and ideology in the sense that they need to live up to the standards of other men in their units, this is something a lot of historians got very exercised about and a lot of inkless spilled about it. fieldk it has shaped the in terms of the question of paying more attention not just to extermination camps like auschwitz, but to pay attention theolice units engaged in
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countryside of eastern poland. to think about the ways the holocaust is happening involving it'srent people, that can pushed along by some conversations that initially seemed to just a about who was calling names. i think this is relevant to us at the lepage center. how do we bring that scholarship to academic journals and debate to a broader public? i wonder if i can do another poll. for the students who are hereby show of hands, how many of you learned about the holocaust through your education somewhere down the line? actually a good show of hands. how many have continued to do any research on it in college --
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couple of history guys. i think this is a good said -- segway to the public memory side of the holocaust, which is distinct. something that you have written about. the most information about the holocaust has come from films, maybe schindler's list or documentaries and things i that. show of hands? ok. films do play a role in what people know about the holocaust. and you, jennifer, have done some work on this. you look at a particular film i will not say the name of. tell peoplent to about that area of the research and how film is used to teach what the holocaust and shortcomings might be. >> the film that is not yet been
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--ed that i've written about i see a lot of headshaking and i heard that sigh of frustration. for those of you who do not know the film and have not heard some criticism, based on a book of the same title, the book has a label on it in the film does not. it is the most-watched movie in american public schools when it comes to teaching the holocaust for two enormously practical regions full -- reasons. it is pg-13 and 90 minutes long. it makes the showcasing of the movie in a classroom really practical. you do not need parental permission.
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because the film is shown regularly, i have students who, all the time, when i teach holocaust and i say why are you here, they will see -- say come i saw the boy in the striped pajamas in high school and it saved my life. with the movie, i think some of you know based on your facial expressions, it is almost completely ahistorical. it is set during the holocaust. the main character is a young german boy named bruno whose father is the commandant of a camp, we can assume is auschwitz. as a viewer of the film, we followed the story of bruno, who that jews are subhuman, even the as the son of a nazi, he would have known this. he befriends a young jewish boy who was imprisoned in all shreds
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who has -- in all schlitz -- in auschwitz. colonel passes chocolate to this little boy and they develop a friendship and in the end, both are murdered. viewers feel the most -- in a gas chamber full of jews, and bruno who has snuck underneath of them. the viewer is moved to tears at the fact that the young german boy has died at the end of the movie. you are not tuned in to what is happening to what their lives are like. i so often have conversations with students, how great this movie is and how they learned something about the holocaust, and at the end of a semester, they will watch them -- we will watch the movie and class -- in
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,lass and they sort of see it that is one reasonable way to use the phone as a teaching tool , to critically examine the movie. there are probably a lot of better choices in terms of what school. shown in some people might critique schindler's list but it certainly is far more historically accurate but is sometimes impractical to show in schools. it seems like this is a to between learning from and learning about. one might argue from the film that you cannot learn much about the holocaust but you did say they are showing up to the classroom and seeing the film. is there something in the learning from category for films or piano, where there is a spirit of humanity in cook -- that can be inculcated?
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to think useful way about the holocaust question mark >> i hesitate to say there is a real upside using the boy mistretta pajamas in the classroom. i do not know that there is. if i had to pick a silver lining and that is sometimes important to do, it would be that students tends to become interested and they want to learn more and it gives them an opportunity to correct incorrect narratives that they have grown up believing about the holocaust in this story. there a redeeming narrative? i do not know. i am a little worried about the can learn or teach about the holocaust and have students walk out of the classes feeling cleansed, like to have done something really good by learning about this, and then they are done. that is still one question i raised before.
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i am not sure of exactly how i feel about finding humanity in it. >> i would add one thing. inthere is a real risk teaching or writing about were learning about the holocaust, which is what you learn from it is an empty moral platitude. learn, i am not a not see therefore, i will not murder in europe, 1940's therefore i am on problematically good and do not have to worry about anything. i think with these universalizing fables around the holocaust, we were talking before the event about life is beautiful, another film in that direction. it is all well and good to say be nice.
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you do not necessarily need to have the kind of holocaust in your backdrop for saying, do not be mean to people. i do think there are generalized lessons one can and should learn from the holocaust, but they have to be connected to the specificity of the event. they cannot, free-floating that teaches kindergarten, love and morality. we can learn that in other contexts. just very briefly, to build off of that, i would maybe ,ay one or perhaps two things it is so often the context of teaching about the holocaust, we teach particularly younger students the rescuers. the question the teachers so
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often want to ask is, how many of you think you would be the rescuer? every kid will raise their hand. no one is going to say not me. i will leave my neighbor to their own devices. not helping them through the gray areas. choices.e made there was a lot of context around this. point, talking about lessons from the holocaust were ,earning from the holocaust there are things like nationalism, racism, anti-semitism. >> i was thinking the most
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important thing is the realization of the fact that this is possible. up on the example i gave, who is the rescuer? this presumption of distancing ourselves from the holocaust is that of course we would be on the right side of this story, that we identified with the victims and by learning about this, we are our place in the moral high ground. even in a place like the holocaust museum and washington, d.c., where you receive your identity card and you open up at various places along the way, which makes a lot of sense in that breaking down this idea of millions of people being killed in putting a human face on it, and you get a question that at the end, there is a person that i have been identified with, do ways,ive or die, in some it would be a much more provocative exercise if you get
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your identity card, and it is unclear whether you are a perpetrator or a victim and you humanize the experience find out where you were born, who you married and where you did your military service. then perhaps it challenges you more provocatively to say, which can't did you serve in? -- which camp did you serve in? that is a different -- and experience but in some ways it underscores the ways the lines between complicity and resistance are also blurred and and realreal challenge benefit of exploring the history areasdelve into the gray as opposed to acting that they are absolute moral certainties. yearseone who spent 3.5 as a curator at a holocaust museum, teaching jewish heritage
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in me -- in manhattan, there is a real balance. a lot of the work of a territorial side of the house was on the about question. are their stories and how do we connect with their stories. then there is the education section which is working on, what can we learn from this, how do we instill these questions into the classrooms, and in some ways, specialties. in a museum setting. the challenge is how to integrate that into some sort of meaningful experience, which is a tough challenge. it is also a tough challenge for themselves. i want paul to talk a little are lessers that unknown. all of them have to rest of the andtions of how much about
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how they try to impart lessons for what they should be doing. people walk into the camps and bring their own sets of experiences and sometimes they bring provocative questions that do nothe people necessarily have great answers to. in the lead up to the conversation, we talked about with a youngpening generation of students walking through the door. a number of news reports in the last few weeks about about some of the guys in the camps providing provocative questions posed by that were putting challenging questions about .umbers
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to some extent, they were locating questions, the political drain of germany in that they were reflected in the fact that one of the teachers was a member of deal turned it the right wing extremist party, they are saying that political experience. about on theion one hand and obligation of going to the camp to learn and then about whether people were willing to do that or not or if ands a sense of obligation part of this is in terms of how one gets to the camps and goes and the experience of that. went to theand and auschwitz camp. i will never forget my first experiences getting off the , obviously looking like a
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tourist. running into people who say, taxi to auschwitz? even in terms of this expectation that you're going to any of these camps, just a destination that you needed to go and see part of high school education or as part of your european tour, you checked it that and munich is great. think that is precisely the challenge and the camps themselves are going to the camps, the lessons do not go without saying. i think that is precisely where historians and educators come in.
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>> one of the things about the was thehile ago relationship between scholarly work and scholarly conversations amongst scholars and general people. this is a reused -- a useful reminder. the story is a particular and scholars more generally, modern stuff. the question is usually not what happened, but why it happened. the empirical information about what happens is usually pretty well documented. a broad consensus. but generally speaking, is very different with ancient history as they do not know -- have a clue what happened. century,get to the 20 the documentation is so thick on the ground that it is not usually the thing scholars are
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most interested or assessed with, it is the lie. you cannot take the what for granted. you have to remember that as a term by holocaust deniers to lend completely unwarranted legitimacy to the pernicious lies. that there is no dispute about the fact. then we can have these conversations about why, where there is a lot of room for legitimate dispute, legitimate interpretive differences. bit, iush back a little think there are still a lot of
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facts we do not know. let's do a show of hands. how many people are aware of shanghai, china, and its connection to the holocaust. fewer than half of the people in the room. how many are aware of the dominica republic and its connection? again. fewer than half. iran and its connection to the holocaust, refugees who survived, people who escaped the holocaust to went all across the globe to various countries in south america. there are still a lot of facts to get at. one way we get into the holocaust is through individual stories of people who were murdered and who escaped, stories of people who were perpetrators. that seems to be a place where there was an infinite amount of what an facts to uncover.
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complex setsuch a of things. as an educator and a teacher, working with teachers who teach the holocaust, do you hear anything about that, about what can move us, as opposed to the 6 million who died in camps? >> the short answer is yes, absolutely. for all of us sitting here or 11ing 6 million jews million victims, 9 million worldors, thinking about war ii more broadly, the numbers are staggering. tofeels a most impossible take in the numbers. 6 million, 11 million, how do those sit -- think through the people were and what they meant. , whethertely a story
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it is a book someone reads, a film, it's sort of gets at the human experience in a way that numerical facts do not. particularly younger students to want stories to hang onto as they try and make sense of the holocaust and try to move closer to making sense of the holocaust, because i am a sure it is possible to totally make sense of it, but it are -- it is the individual stories. i may be would argue there are other sources, primary sources, that can be used to get at stories i want to
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think. the teachers the first states to mandate holocaust education, teachersow-ups found had a limited knowledge about told --caust and being do we have a sense of what works? if some of the things are not working, do we have a sense of what could work or what is possible for holocaust education? >> it is the million-dollar question. so much of holocaust education is not working the way we want it to. as evidenced by my own research the pewe scale and research center, all of which points to the same direction, that young people more broadly
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are lacking in content knowledge about the holocaust. , theuestion of what to do question of the day yesterday, , i think there are a couple of quick answers. scholarshipg new and emerging teaching strategies and marrying them together. helping teachers understand what strategies work when teaching young people about the holocaust , genocide, slavery, the trail of tears. anddo we help young people ?ow do teachers stay on top we're still are learning the how do the teachers
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learn that so they're able to teach their own students this information? i would argue colleges of education in particular and museum settings have huge potential. play. meetingalso argue for people where they are. kids can concentrate in 15 minute chunks of time because that is what commercials are in television. argue kids have the focus for you to video, chunks of time, or social media, and it is smaller than that. we may have whatever feelingly have about emerging technologies and kids attention spans, but as teachers, i think we have an obligation to see where students are and how we want to move them . >> i put us on this slide to get us back to where we have been thinking about.
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you touched on one of them, opening the conversation, to be on more platforms and married -- more media. i think it points to the diversity where they go for the information. a little bit about the expanding interpretations, you talked about 1933 versus 1941, reimagining how some of the interpretations than the scholarship and in the classroom. question, they write an article or a book, they have to decide when to end and when to begin. choices to make some committeeeflects, the -- how did hiller come to power,
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the second world war, and now, understand trying to how nazi germany matters, how do they come to perpetrate this on the jewish population. this is very much a moving target. we talked earlier today, i was reading a new article that came out that was discussing hitler's anti-semitism, i was revisiting an interview conducted in 1994 with a woman who had been the daughter of the family that had written to it -- rented a room right after the first world war. the new source suggesting in terms of trying to figure out how the ideas move from this failed painter in austria to then become a
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political leader in germany. complicated and there are a lot of debates about what the different things mean. example of the ways in which looking at a new source from the 1990's, can give us new insight into saying, what was going on in munich in 1913 how should that matter for where we begin and end the stories? >> there is no question that, as with any field of historical inquiry, the questions historians bring to the table change over time and it changes 1994.urces of now, this is more of a source for me thought it was. in that perspective, certain aspects of historical for the
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holocaust will become known in a way they were not previously, sometimes rediscovered. you will go back to things he used to be interested in and are suddenly interested in again. one topic that got a lot of attention recently is -- in the context of the holocaust. something totally not talked about for most of the post war. andn area that is front that peoplermation chose to not focus on it. questionsgard, we ask of the past because they are important to us in the present moment we are living in.
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with the holocaust, one cannot escape the power, whether it is a striped uniform or a toy or shoe or hair, all of those parts are sources, such a of the story of how we made this transition and translation between scholarship and public understanding. privilege of going down to the jamaican republic to work at the museum that refugees from europe and to be the first person to look at those in 50 years, it is a holy range of sources and artifacts scholarship can be derived from. there is a whole universe of documents that have not been fully explored.
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they also have pitfalls and challenges. i want to get you all into the conversation. we will bring up the house thets so we can see you cameras can also identify you. please remember you are on camera on c-span. i repeat my statement from previous events, which some of you may have heard. for first-timers, we want audience feedback on all of our events. number one comment we received back from people on what to include on is to ask people to make their questions short, or to make a [laughter] jason: so to help us make the experience that are for you, we
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request you keep your questions or comments brief. you can direct to an individual member of the panel, or to all of us. if you are willing, you can identify yourself. we have two microphones on either end. let's bring you into the conversation now. feel free to raise her hands and we will go from there. hello, mina miss jerry sankar. i have a question for the whole panel. jerry sankar. it has to do with the 6 million. how and when did historian settle on that number and maybe there is a who in that question as well. >> the 6 million number was first used in the nuremberg trials. it was derived from a combination of german sources,
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some kinds of things, the killings in the soviet union they kept pretty good records so we have a fair sense of that. some of them were based on prewar estimates of populations and then postwar count of refugees. one of the big problems is that anda lot of choose killed extermination camps, the germans did not bother keeping records of how many people they were killing. we have a very good count of the number of jews who were enslaved by the germans and many of whom were then worked to death and died in horrible conditions in slave labor camps. but to the jews who were sent directly to the gas chambers, the germans did not keep meticulous counts of those. so there is a lot of squishy nests, i guess you could say, in some of these precise numbers. so 6 million is a ballpark. i have seen incredible figures
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as low as 4.8 million. i have seen figures as high as six and a half million. 6 million is a give or take number with a fairly large error estimate. but nothing lower than about 5 million would be the lowest credible count that i have seen. questionan interesting print i wonder if from an educator perspective, working with teachers, how does that number function? does that number and the power and magnitude of it have some sort of a role in how teachers approach the subject? or deem the subject to be serious enough it has to be taught in every classroom? is there some power in that number? certainly there is a power to the number. is sothink because it unimaginable in so many ways, it makes the teaching of the holocaust normally collocated.
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there is an urgency because this high. -- enormously complicated. there's an urgency because it is so high. and when you add other groups in addition to the jews in the holocaust, the number gets higher and it makes it both urgent and enormously complicated because it feels incomprehensible. particularly, the younger you go, the harder it is. 40 when you're young feels really big. so to think about 6 million feels impossible. on this side of the room. first, on the catholic priest, i was stationed in poland for 18 years. aboutastor of a parish five kilometers or six commoners away from auschwitz.
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kilometers away from auschwitz. mother's family perished as christians in the camp. i would have a question for the audience. relatives or related to someone who perished? thank you. >> thank you for raising that. appreciate that. studentsouple of grad on the side of the room and then we will move across. kyle and then thomas. hello, i am first year grad student. a general question that could be for any of the panelists it mainly has to do with teaching.
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and combating holocaust denial in your classroom. this came up last year in a class i had, where a professor was approached by a colleague who said, they had students bring up facts that they learned irvingor reading david and the response was they were not really sure how to deflect these accusations from their own students about holocaust denial. so maybe a question of what are some ways you can combat these kind of questions in class? >> i will start with this one. both because kyle was a student of ours in the past and i fill up getting to answer, also because -- i feel obligated to answer, and also because it is
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teaching. i have the experience and know the situation kyle is talking about. also a situation in new jersey recently, a teacher was fired for teaching holocaust denial and he sued the school district. i was a witness in that case. on behalf of the school district who was fighting against him. and have given enormous amounts whenought to what happens not only students bring up holocaust denial, but what happens when teachers trade in conspiracy and denial. one thing-there are two skulls of thought. one thing is the -- two schools of thought. ie is the devorah lip shot, will not debate a denier, from the movie. -- lip shots. if you cannot accept it, our
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conversation is done. particularly with students, who have perhaps been taken down weird google algorithm rabbit holes and have been taken to sites like the national historical review-sites that have really solid sounding names and they do not necessarily know how to tell the good from the bad. i think what you have students who are relying on faulty fact there is a little bit more wiggle room to say, i see where you have gotten this, let me give you a stack this big of documents that are going to refute that. and then let's talk about it afterwards and see what makes sense. i do not know how you counter trading in denial is him and conspiracy theories. -- denialism. but with students you can cite facts with facts.
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the only thing i would do is give a shout out to this webpage call the news corp. process. opposite of libspshatz, and takes denial as in point by point and combats it. if it is a case where facts will make a difference, it is a really good resource for that. if it is a case of motivated it may make more sense to disengage. >> i would say a plea for the value of doing history in a particular way and may be saying this calls for a footnote. [laughter] providinghink about even if not actual footnotes but essentially providing sources to , so thishe work we do becomes a way of modeling but also of providing evidence.
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the reason why academic integrity is a big deal in unit a university is not just because we are trying to keep people from cheating. it is also about putting together the architecture where ideas come from. by demonstrating where our intellectual work on subjects like the holocaust comes from, we can also provide a much denser and more fully fleshed out sense of the foundations of those arguments. good time to's a reinforce the fact that credentials matter. i think we are unfortunately in a moment where there is a lot of ambiguity around credentials and credential is him and maybe even some populist pushback against credentials and expertise. but we at villanova and in history to permits and more broadly feel strongly about credentials mean something. morestory departments broadly.
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certainly everyone can have opinions, but when it comes to having deep expertise on something, that is a different kettle of fish. let's get thomas and then we'll move back to the other side of the room. >> my question is based on the fact that one of the most well-known holocaust deniers is arthur butz who is not a historian but he was in electrical engineering professor with a phd at northwestern. my question is, how do we on the factsting that the holocaust happened with at certain points in our history with making history accessible. maybe not to people like arthur butz, by keeping the holocaust street accessible while also insisting it happened, and keeping that argument in the forefront. >> you want to talk about instagram? [laughter] >> sure. all sorts of technology.
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before this, we had a sort of two-pronged conversation and diluted to this when i talked about eating young people where meeting, right -- about young people where they are, right? ofsed an example, a series instagram stories. i believe it was a film maker in israel who did this. , maybe someonees here can fact checked me if i get the definition of instagram stories a little bit wrong. there are essentially short video clips that can be posted on a regular basis on an instagram page. account. app. so there was this instagram story however was posted, called evo stories and it chronicled the true story of a young woman who was murdered and the
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holocaust. her in the current date. so you saw eva taking selfies and eve out with her friends. and it was as if the holocaust were happening now in a lot of ways. while also staying true to much of her story. and it was lots of debates about this. it was appropriate, if was horrifying, if it should be taken down and condemned forever. and lots ofy, lots young people connected to this. it had millions of views and followers. and/or followers. students in my classes would also come and say i saw this on this instagram story. how real is this? and it opened up the avenue for lots of conversation about what is accurate and what is not because they were able to see themselves and make connections to this young woman in these videos. >> but at the same time there is a tension with bringing serious
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scholarship and a serious subject into perhaps these more playful and modern platforms, right? there have been controversies about holocaust videogames. it left try to use veal games as a way to teach about the holocaust and their husbands and get pushback against that. there was even a bit of game shut down because was deemed to be not the right tone and not and nott message factual. so it is a relevant western about balancing the new platforms and opportunities with the seriousness that the subject demands. >> questions historians reckon with in general which is what is the place of fiction in a history classroom, right? [indiscernible] has made up elements, all the
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light you cannot see, would you teach it in a class? some are better, some are worse. some are great literature, some are not. but all of them have fictional elements and how, what are the ethics of bringing in the amount of fictional dimension into a which, is reality of so profoundly important to acknowledge. fit, we are acknowledging the reality of this but in order to make it accessible we are going to bring in fiction or selfies or, you to the rescue, like in life is beautiful. >> how does that [indiscernible] how imaginative
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can you get but still be true to the essence of your story. >> the other thing we have spoken about before, thinking about technology is something we are working on at rowan university, is the challenge to think about teaching and learning about the holocaust by using virtual reality. the first reaction everyone gives his a gasp. after extensive conversations inside the university and with other scholars, we decided to re-create certain parts of the warsaw ghetto. by using the documents from the which,bloom archive devon mentioned it, jews who were imprisoned in the warsaw ghetto acted in -- as citizen historians and wrote some diary entries, daily life type of reports.
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about things they work sprinting. how much food they had in the soup kitchen. have any people were there that day. so we are trying to do this, only using, many were preserved, so that generations too, could learn from the experiences of these jews were imprisoned in the warsaw ghetto. we are using virtual reality to bring to life documents that were intended to be read by future generations, or at least that was the hope. think, ournd i biggest question continues to be, where are the ethical lines here? what is ethical and what is not? how do we do this without it feeling cool or like a videogame that really using it as a teaching tool? i think it is those ethical that do not keep shifting but become a more complicated as .echnology advances and as we move further away from the event. there's a balance of technology --olarship, ethics, teaching
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technology, scholarship, ethics and teaching, all of which we are thinking about. make sure we get more people involved in the conversation. you have been patient. >> this is wonderful. i am wondering, do you mow dust you know the movie, the reader and what are your thoughts on that? -- do you know the movie, the reader, and what are your thoughts on that? i found a powerful. >> i am not a fan. for the reader, if you do not know the film or book, it was a sensation in the late 90's, i want to say. the story is, a young boy -- a young man has an affair with an older woman who turns out to have been a female guard in a concentration camp.
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who ends up then having done bad things -- or gone through bad things. it is the core message is, he helps her learn to read and introduces her to the classics of german literature. a story of kind of redemption and salvation for her . what i find troubling about that, is the thesis of the story is fit has one is that german culture can save you from german culture. uh, i say that as a joke. but the problem emerges clearly in and of itself, right? if only the is not, germans had read more carta -- goethe, the holocaust were not of happened. the holocaust happened why the germans were reading goethe. the question is why didn't
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reading it prevent the holocaust? and that is not how the question was framed in that book. so that is why i found that to be not entirely successful. one, yes, i agree with everything you said. and also think it shows shades of gray that can be complicated for people to think about, students in particular to think about. in what ways is the perpetrator in this film humanized? she is not one-dimensional. she's not people. she did evil things. she did horrible things. she also is this person who loves and is loved in return. certainlygreeing that parts of it are problematic, i think there's something about the humanization of perpetrators and it makes it really hard to say, and i would never be that person, this is impossible. so that is one little comment.
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the other thing i would say and this gets to the point and messiness at the granular level of everyday life in the way in which the lines between actions they try to assess and evaluate their goodness or badness. work focuses on post door to berlin. debates in the berlin useful assembly there was discussion, accusations of a .ocialist deputy an accusation that he had collaborated with the nazis. theuse he had purchased shop of a jewish acquaintance so that person could emigrate. how should we understand this action? is this an act of humanity, to facilitate the escape of 70 from nazi germany? or is this an active
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collaboration can tripping to the -- contributing to the area and is asian of the german economy -- aryanization of the german economy? the level of detail i could access from the record did not get to the relationship between these two people and how that played out whether we know what is informing this decision, that is something the record is not quite give us access to. but i think that is precisely the case that, just because somebody was not a nazi, does not mean that one's actions were not contributing to the smooth operation of the nazi regime. or just because one was a not see, does not this is really mean that one cannot do things that in individual moments also created opportunities for humanity or possibility. [indiscernible] >> how good historian can ruin
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any movie that you like. [laughter] i say that tongue-in-cheek but he gets back to the questions earlier from our students. there are ways we want to engage with these topics, but it is not always in the classroom. it is not always at a panel conversation. sometimes it is through a film or book or an instagram opposed. so it may not be the right tone or message but is there something we can learn from others? ad do these things as collective still serve public interest purpose, by being out there and raising awareness, right? it would be worse if there were no films at all, i think. that is my personal opinion. let's get a few more questions. we have had a lot of men raising their hands. i would like gender balance. you have been patient.
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get you and then we will get my mother and then a few. [laughter] is called moderators prerogative. name is janelle munro. i spent some time with a german colleague a couple of months ago. she had questions for me about how we have progressed from slavery and going through jim crow and reconstruction and the civil rights movement. and how she has been seeing a lot of that statues not being removed. she asked me about the education, how we are educated about slavery. then she switched quickly to how we are educated about the holocaust and german history in the u.s.? i explained the difference i experienced in that slavery is a matter of fact thing that happened and that is how it was explained to me in the south. and that the holocaust was a sad thing that happened that, i do not know a lot about but it is just this sad him a sobering thing. the question i have for the panel, is how, if you know, in german studies, how is the holocaust taught there?
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and what can be gleaned from how the teacher there, to also teach holocaust here and also other sad events like slavery here in america? so, i think what is really similar about these issues is, even regardless of the difference in the distance in the past, i think these are two histories that in the united states and germany remained very close to the surface. they are present in lots of ways. have, tocontinue to remain significant parts of contemporary life. germany, west germany in particular, was often held up and that unified germany is now held up as a success story in terms of an effort to deal honestly and factually and
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conscientiously with a very problematic past. and i think on some level that is very true. in terms of the ways in which it is part of the curriculum. that, this recognition nazism was wrong, that nazi germany perpetrated horrific crimes, and that this is something that contemporary germans need to need to wrestle with. have begunersations to wrestle with the ways in which the successful civic fromtion was also detached personal experience. there is a book a number of years ago that was called rand paul was not a nazi in german. the nazis,hat yes, it was horrible. but the crimes, nobody is doubting that. my grandfather, will he was just an ordinary soldier. ,o he had nothing to do with
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the nazis were really bad. it is a good thing we were not one of them, kind of thing. i think that would be the challenge here. the ways in which we can , whether in a personal family or institutionally, we have many more connections with these dangerous pasts. the question of universities, georgetown or princeton or harvard or yell, who are confronting their connections to the legacy of slavery. not just in the south. ? right? ? but are beginning to. those are some of the ways in which we can think about. it is not just something in the past. at our institutions in the present, their wealth, their traditions, their names. they bear lots of connections. and i think that maybe is one of the cautionary tales about the success of germany, is the ways in which it also becomes
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depersonalized. >> and i would quickly add a question of generations. , the story of germans success in dealing with its past as a story of the second forward generation. the immediate postwar era, the dominant story in german public life is we are the victims. nazis, allims of the four of them who started this horrible war. [laughter] and we are the victims of the allies who bombed our cities into rubble. and we were really unlucky. we are victims of communists. it is only really in the 1960's, with the next generation, you start to get people with a much more critical kind of engagement with that past, saying, yes, there were more than four nazis in the country, right? but my grandpa, there was my
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dad. and there they probably were pretty critical, that was the 1960's after all. is interesting now, though, is again you are starting to see a generational shift, right? mentioned that holocaust denial is making its face known in germany in a way it was not previously. neo-nazis are, you do want to overstate this. but there more prominent publicly than they would have been 10 years ago or 15 years ago even. right? progress on these kinds of confrontations with difficult past is not a one-way street. right? you can learn lessons and then forget them. or fail to train or teach them to the next narration, right -- to the next generation, right? and that is what's important about this kind of work, is making sure that lessons once learned are not forgotten. thatd i would add or argue
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as many questions or concerns as we might have about holocaust education in the united states, i would argue it is probably still a lot better than the education we do around slavery. anhink this is overstatement. but i think it is easier for or americansldren in general, to think about horrors that were committed by other people far away. where americans were on the side of right. and when we confront our own history of slavery, we do not have the safety of space. and so i think there's an doument to be made that we better when it comes to holocaust education then we do when it comes to slavery education. are running short on time. one last question. from my mama. [laughter]
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and there will be other questions you want to ask. so we will have a dessert reception in the lobby after the event. i invite you to join me with the speakers where you can ask additional questions and gain additional in fight insights. say your question points to something we have talked a lot about which is how different history education looks, depending on what state you're in. i grew up in new york. i learned a lot more about the holocaust that i did about slavery. but the inverse could be true for people in other states. a lot of this work we have to do in the public interest is localized. we know more about the victims of that showa then we do about the victims of slavery. the shoah. of there's a lot were to uncover about the victims of slavery. the final question.
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in the front. [laughter] >> hi. so i am the daughter of two holocaust survivors. i was born in a dp camp in germany after world war two. i would like to thank the entire panel for a fabulous discussion. so i knew a fair amount because i went to a hebrew day school. and we have family in israel as well. but i never really appreciated how awful this was until we went, dan and i, my husband, went to birkenau. not auschwitz. because i think it is totally [indiscernible] but auschwitz is vast. if you imagine smoke, smell, dirt on the roads, shouting,
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obliviongs, complete for the people who came off the train. -- trains. even for someone like myself, and expense like that, it is really important. and the other thing that happened while we were there as there was a survivor, who was telling israeli soldiers about his experiences in the camp. andhese were young men women from israel, from there, he did not really know anything about it. is in would suggest, europe, hitler's decided to completely extinguish the jewish community. some had been in europe for over 1000 years. kids, or toto teach make it more immediate, i think, and you guys know this better,
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is to appoint people in the room and say to them, ok. you guys are going to disappear. the entire third or fourth or fifth of the class is going to disappear. how do you feel about this neighbor or that neighbor? how do you feel about not having this person in your class? i think that is the only way you can bring the stuff home to these kids. acause they live in privileged world. and it is really hard to make them understand this. i want to be careful with how i frame this. to say there are lots of debates within education about the use of simulations like that. concern,t caution or while i hear what you're saying and wrestle with this myself
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often, and i've asked this basis, isn a regular are we giving kids then some sort of false equivalency? i was a part of this in my class. i was disappeared or i was asked how i felt when my neighbor was disappeared. and now i understand what it was like to be a jew in 1939 germany. so, there is this thing young people tend to do, which is to say they can understand everything. my pushback or caution with something like that, which i agree, in many ways would probably be effective and would really bring the message home, is that there is then this over identification with something that, thankfully, our children right now, in america, cannot understand. and is both a blessing and a curse that they cannot. so that is my only bit of
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pushback to jason's mom. i'm sorry. [laughter] >> thinking about different ways in which there can be an experience of a place like auschwitz or birkenau or doc how can depend -- dachau, can depend on the weather and the time of day you are there, that there is not a single way that can be experienced. to onen point you holocaust memoir i would encourage people to read, it is ruth kruger, still alive, holocaust girl remembered. , even in against this the camps, rendering them at museumlike. she said she would never go back to auschwitz, because it cannot be like it was when she was there. this part is a challenge for all history.
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all history is kind of an approximation, right? and devon brought up the question of fiction. there's a way all history requires a bit of imagination or inventiveness. i think the challenge for us is all to try to navigate that balance between making connections, flushing out stories we have in a fragmentary fashion. but at the heart of this needs to be recognized in the humanity of the people we are talking about and his stories were trying to tell. are tryhose stories we to tell. and to acknowledge that. and recognize how complicated that it is. of the point of history education is to imagine yourself in this past, to try to understand what it would have been like to be in this past. but when you're talking about you know, mass murder events. it crates certain kinds of ethical challenges for that active imagination, right?
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what you're trying to get students to understand the nazis . what you want to do is to understand and nazis think that you do not want them to think like nazis. right? so how do you make them understand that there was a kind of logic to what the nazis were doing i'll be at a perverse logic. whatant them to understand the jewish expense was like. you cannot walk a mile in their shoes. right? you just cannot. living in a peaceful, prosperous well sawed, well close, well fed, nobody shooting at me kind of world. right? well-shod. i can try to understand that but it is not my experience, right?
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the ethicalrespect distance between the world you are living in and this world of pain and terror and death. conversations have power and places apps power -- places have power and conversations have power and that is how this process unfolds and how we educate and teach. do that is what we hope to .ere at the lepage center we hope to have powerful conversations and i think we have had one tonight. [applause] i know your eagle to talk to the palace more. -- you are eager to talk to the panel let's that prevents them from getting a treat. i will ask you to make your way to the lobby and the panelists to be there in minutes and we can continue the conversation.
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thank you. >> this coming week, congress is in recess for residents day in american history tv will be on c-span3 in prime time. we are visiting five d.c. era museums to interview museum officials and highlight collections exploring the american story. this coming monday through friday 8:00 p.m. eastern, here on american history tv on c-span3. sunday at 9:00 p.m. eastern on afterwards. sally pikes makes the argument against medicare for all. in her latest book, false premise, false promise,. >> in december there were 4 million brats on the waiting list to get treatment. treatment is not
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supposed to be delayed from seeing agp to getting treatment more than 62 days. that u.k.not met in that standard for over five years. -- 4m brits. under the world health arenization study, brits the bottom of the wrong in most industrialized countries. >> watch it on book tv on c-span2. 9:00 him eastern. >> up next, george aumoithe a postdoctoral research associate at princeton university explores the history of medicaid and medicare in the united states explaining how discussions on universal health care have evolved since the 1960's. this interview was recorded at the annual american historical association meeting. >> george aumoithe is a postdoctoral research associate at princeton university and he is joining us from our studios in new york. thanks for being with us on american history tv.


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