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Eastern Europe - Deposit

Eastern Europe - Deposit
This program takes us to a part of the world where Nazi Germany carried out the "final solution to the Jewish question" under the cover of World War II. Poland was home to some three-and-a-half million Jews, 90 percent of whom died in the genocide we call the Holocaust. Another two million Jews from every corner of Europe were transported to extermination centers such as Auschwitz, Treblinka, and Chelmno-- three places we will visit in Poland. And at least 1.5 million Jewish people were murdered in the "borderlands" stretching from eastern Poland, north and east across the Baltic Countries, Belorussia, and Ukraine. In Lviv, Krakow and Warsaw, we will tour former Jewish neighborhoods and visit museums, synagogues, and churches in the "old town" of each city. In the evenings we will meet with university students and sample the vibrant night life. In Munich we will tour the "hot spots" of National Socialism, where Hitler's movement and the ideology of the master race took shape. In Berlin, we will visit the Jewish Museum, the Museum to the Murdered Jews of Europe, and other sites that convey the history of a once-thriving people decimated under a banner of hatred in the heart of vocalized Europe. At every stop, we will investigate how the Holocaust is remembered and forgotten, and how young Ukrainians, Poles, and Germans come to grips with an unspeakable past.

Were the Nazis just a bunch of criminals who stoked religious and ethnic hatred for personal gain, or was the Holocaust an expression of deep=seated tendencies in western civilization? Was the ascendancy of Nazism inevitable or only one possible response to the Jews' thousand-year presence in Europe? From their acquisition of civil rights in Germany in the 1860's, until their oppression int he 1930's, Jews enjoyed a cultural renaissance that affect every area of national life. Jews in Germany and neighboring Poland rose to prominence in the arts and sciences, in business and the military. The remnants of their achievements and the marks they left on the land, in the memories of individuals yet living, and in the cultural treasures of the people who had once been their neighbors, are also our objects of study.