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Please follow the above links to learn more about “Sewanee Remembers”–our commemoration of the Holocaust. We have several events that are a part of our commemoration: a stage performance “Carrying the Remains”, an adaptation of Theresienstadt (Terezin) survivor Tom Lenda’s memoir; a Keynote Lecture by Dagmar Herzog, Distinguished Professor of History and the Daniel Rose Faculty Scholar at the Graduate Center, City University of New York; and several student events, including a student Holocaust research panel.
UPDATE!! – Please help us with our Indiegogo campaign to help raise funds to produce DVDs of our event. These discs will be distributed to schools across Tennessee and to all others who would like to have it. All unused proceeds from the campaign will be donated to the Tennessee Holocaust Commission.
This year marks the 70th anniversary of the Liberation of Auschwitz (January 27) and the end of the Second World War. Unfortunately, nearly six million Jewish lives were lost during the Nazi onslaught and destruction of Europe, with nearly three million of those lives being lost from 1942 to 1943. The Nazi’s and their brutality knew no limits – anyone (individually or as a group) who stood in their way to creating a 1000-year “Aryan Reich” was subject to intense subjugation, humiliation, and dehumanization.
Nearly three million Jews perished by bullets on the Eastern Front in the aftermath of Operation Barbarossa–the Nazi’s invasion of the Soviet Union. The Einsatzgruppen, or mobile killing squads that roamed freely in the Russian countryside, along with their local sympathizers, contributed to prior-to unknown killing, including the infamous massacre at Babi Yar, outside of Kiev (Ukraine). Jews were gathered together and ghettoized in horrible living conditions and then shot in cold blood after having dug their own mass graves.
In addition to the brutality on the Eastern Front, the Nazi authorities sought new, more efficient techniques to liquidate Jews. These desires brought experimentation to a new level: starting with experiments on those lebensunwertige (unworthy of life)–the mentally and physically disabled and genetically inferior–the Nazi’s introduced mass killings with Carbon Monoxide (CO). The first victims were those institutionalized within the German state (the T4 programs), and then this technology was modified to be used at the first mass extermination camp, Chelmno (Kulmhof) in the Warthegau in western Poland.
This technology was then brought to the East. After the assassination of Reinhard Heydrich, one of Hitler’s loyal deputies, Operation Reinhard unleashed the brutality of the Nazi regime on the Jews in eastern Poland and on the Soviet Frontier. The camps built during this operation–Belzec, Treblinka, Sobibor–killed over 1.7 million people (nearly all Jews) in just over one year!!! However, the brutality did not end there.
Due to operational breakdowns, the Carbon Monoxide killing centers were replaced by an even more lethal, and more efficient, method of killing–the use of Zyklon B (hydrogen cyanide), a fertilizer that was common in Germany at that time. Zylkon B, while used in several of the camps under Nazi domination, was most prevalent at the Auschwitz Extermination camps, located not far from the city of Krakow, Poland.
There were also other camps spread throughout the Nazi Reich. We have recently learned about the appalling breadth with which the Nazis spread their ideology. If you follow the link, you will be brought to a New York Times article from 2013 that summarizes new findings–that nearly 42,500 Nazi ghettos and camps were established throughout Europe. For most people, we know only about the major concentration camps and killing centers: Bergen-Belsen, Buchenwald, Dachau, Mauthausen, Chelmno, Auschwitz, Majdanek, Treblinka, Sobibor, Belzec, Westerbork, Drancy, Ravensbrueck, and Theresienstadt. Due to the great research by new scholars, we continue to find out the depths of depravity that informed and guided the Nazis.
As those in the Jewish community and in the scholarly community say, we must never forget the injustices that occurred during those dark years, 1933-1945, and we must use this knowledge to educate and improve mankind. We cannot let another Shoah happen–anywhere or at any time. Help us here in Sewanee, and around the world remember and commemorate the lives of those who perished for being who they were: whether they were Jews, Christians, homosexuals, Roma, Russian, French, Greek, German, socialist, etc.
We would like to thank the following groups and individuals for their support for this endeavor:
Sewanee Lectures Committee, Departments of History, Religion, Music, Theatre, and German, the Dean of Students Office, Middle Tennessee State University, and the Dean of the College.