This month, 60 participants – students, alums and faculty from Hobart and William Smith Colleges and Nazareth College in Rochester, N.Y. – traveled across Germany and Poland on “The March: Bearing Witness to Hope,” a leadership program and mission that leads them on a remembrance journey centered on the Holocaust.
Established through a collaborative effort between Professor of Religious Studies Michael Dobkowski and faculty from Nazareth College, The March provides members of the program with an opportunity to visit memorial sites and to listen to the stories of Holocaust survivors.
Participants visited museums, monuments and memorials that commemorate the once thriving Jewish cultural centers in Berlin, Warsaw, Krakow and Lublin that were destroyed during World War II, said Dobkowski, who was joined on the trip this year by Associate Professor of Religious Studies Richard Salter ’86, P’15. “They walked through the death camps of Treblinka, Majdanek and Auschwitz-Birkenau where life ended for millions. They visited historic locations commemorating acts of resistance and rescue.”
Survivors, scholars and mentors interacted with the March participants along the way to help them better understand what they witnessed and learned.
Participants also documented and reflected on their experiences during the trip via the March: Bearing Witness to Hope 2014 blog.
Reflecting on the time spent in Berlin, Colleen Moore ’16, a double major in international relations and political science, was struck by the contrast between the beauty of Wannsee – a suburb of Berlin – and the horror of the Final Solution, which “was engineered by Reinhard Heydrich and other high-ranking Nazi officials at the Wannsee Conference in 1942,” Moore said. “Wannsee Lake is a breath-taking and a popular spot for tourists and vacationers. The villa where the Wannsee Conference took place in 1942 is set on an amazing property, with great views of the lake and gorgeous scenery. Visiting this site, it’s hard to imagine something horrific taking place.”
Over the past 12 years, the Colleges have participated in The March five times. Each year, The March brings together a team of participants from HWS, Nazareth College, and local community members.
On returning home, student participants are encouraged to become involved in campus initiatives that share the goals of The March – a commitment to identify, confront and transform situations of prejudice, bigotry, and intolerance, institutionally, as well as interpersonally and working for the eradication of genocidal forces in the world today.
For more information, visit the March’s homepage.
The photo: While in Berlin during the March: Bearing Witness to Hope, students, faculty and alums from HWS and Nazareth College traveled to the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe, also known as the Holocaust Memorial, to honor and remember the up to six million Jewish victims of the Holocaust.