The Holocaust and human behavior

Friday, 12. June 2015

by Noelle Borders

As part of their Holocaust and Human Behavior class, Noelle Borders, Isaac May, Narra Fortin, Hallie Scarborough, Samira Firouz, Dominik Hahn, Felix Benton, Royina Banerjee, and Lucas Millership, and Mike May traveled to Dachau, Germany, and visited the Dachau concentration camp memorial site. The students shared these thoughts:

"It is hard to accept that people can be that brutal. How can people sink so low to punish someone cruelly who hasn’t committed any crime? It seems like the SS actually took joy in inflicting punishment."

"It was a very heavy experience. I expected it to be sadder and less dense. It was hard to soak it all in. I couldn’t stay in the gas chamber for more than 30 seconds. It was too much."

"It made me feel really small to walk down the camp road under the trees that grew when the camp was active. And if I felt small, then the prisoners must have felt like nothing because they were regarded as nothing."

I simply couldn’t believe before our visit that something this awful could actually happen. It is unimaginable. I couldn’t look at many parts of the film because what had been unimaginable was right there in front of my face.

"How do you ever forgive someone who does such horrible things to you?"

"The solidarity of the prisoners really helped them through their experience—it gave them hope."

"What are the characteristics of resilience that allow a soul to remain intact through such an experience?"

Facing Strangers -- Facing Yourself

Our fear of strangers calls into question our own role in society.

I have only to look at one to realize that in the eyes of other people I, too, can be a stranger, and that a stranger would be afraid of me.

In the context of humanity as a whole, we are all strangers.

We all have something inside us that does not belong to us, that we cannot make out, that we cannot grasp.

Since he is, in a way, similar to me, a stranger frightens me.

In the last analysis, I am only afraid of him because I am frightened of myself. What if I were the other?

The truth is: he and I are the same.

Elie Wiesel