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05/18/2018

Spring 2018 Issue III

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Two Overnight excursions to Terezín&Auschwitz and Munich&Dachau - The Holocaust in the Films and Literature of Arnošt Lustig

Students of The Holocaust in the Films and Literature of Arnošt Lustig course, along with their Professor Josef (Pepi) Lustig, had a unique opportunity to travel and participate in specially designed overnight class excursions. Some of them have shared their trip experience with us.

'The best experience of Pepi Lustig’s class was the excursion in Munich, to the Dachau Concentration Camp. This experience was the most touching because it was the first trip we went on as a group, so we really got to bond as a class and with Professor Lustig. His knowledge about the history of the Holocaust is unlimited, and it was an honor to listen to him speak about Dachau and the atrocities committed there. All excursions were especially touching because our class truly got a different view of the Holocaust and the camps, which is why I think this class is so special and important.' - Gabriella Hagedorn, DePauw University

The first overnight excursion was to Munich and Dachau. The group of students visited Munich as the first stop of the excursion and had a guided tour of the historical Nazi parts of the city. The guide was very well prepared with multiple documents, pictures and maps which all helped students have an even better experience of visiting the historical places. A part of the excursion was also a visit of the Munich Documentation Centre for the History of National Socialism documenting and addressing the crimes of the Nazi dictatorship and their origins, manifestations and consequences right up to the present day. On the following day, the group led by professor Lustig visited the first concentration camp at Dachau. The Nazi government started the first concentration camp in Dachau, Germany, in March of 1933. It has been renovated and preserved as a memorial to those who suffered and died there between 1933 and its liberation in 1945. Dachau initially housed political prisoners; however, it eventually evolved into a death camp where thousands of Jews died from malnutrition, disease and overwork or were executed.

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Upon arriving in Dachau, the group was faced with weather that was all too fitting for the events that took place there in the past: with a fog so thick you could not see the building the group was walking to, cool breeze and sky so gloomy one could not help but feel the despair that still lingered in the air. Nevertheless, the students appreciated this weather even more since it gave them a very real glimpse into the suffering of the inmates that were once imprisoned there.

The second overnight excursion to Terezín and Auschwitz was pretty impressive as well. Students gained even more in depth knowledge about the Terezín work camp during a discussion with the Professor and also his aunt (on the day following the excursion). The next day in Auschwitz was full of moving adventures, from a visit of the Auschwitz concentration camp (where Professor Lustig's father himself was imprisoned for several years), walking around the Nazi Party headquarters to the visit of the concentration/extermination camp at Birkenau.

As students have said, visiting Dachau, Terezín and Auschwitz was an eye-opening experience in so many ways. For instance, Mrs. Hanna (Professor Lustig's aunt) provided our students with countless invaluable insights into what life in the camp was actually like since she had to endure the horrors of life in the camp herself. It is indispensable to visit the sites where these crimes against humanity were committed in order to understand the full extent of the Holocaust. All excursions with professor Lustig were a powerful experience.

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