From March 4-10, Father Desbois and Yahad-In Unum team members guided 33 students from Georgetown University and Seton Hill University on the third annual Spring Break Field Course to visit places of Jewish memory in Poland and Belarus. This field course is unique in that it enables students to learn about the Holocaust by Bullets through field experience, where they meet with witnesses that Yahad-In Unum has previously interviewed and discover sites of memory that were identified by our organization. Moreover, the Field Course is the culmination of the annual course that Father Desbois teaches in the fall at Georgetown University as it enables students to put in practice what they have studied in the classroom.

From March 4-10, Father Desbois and Yahad-In Unum team members guided 33 students from Georgetown University and Seton Hill University on the third annual Spring Break Field Course to visit places of Jewish memory in Poland and Belarus. This field course is unique in that it enables students to learn about the Holocaust by Bullets through field experience, where they meet with witnesses that Yahad-In Unum has previously interviewed and discover sites of memory that were identified by our organization. Moreover, the Field Course is the culmination of the annual course that Father Desbois teaches in the fall at Georgetown University as it enables students to put in practice what they have studied in the classroom.

Father Desbois explained the significance of this field course: “I train the students to investigate the genocide as a series of crimes because each Jew faced his killer. This path of study is a powerful method of fighting against negationism. It has helped Jewish students to reconnect with their origins as many of them have now been able to say Kaddish on mass graves, in towns where this prayer has not been uttered for more than 70 years.”

During the trip, students visited the concentration camp of Auschwitz-Birkenau as well as the lesser-visited site of Auschwitz I, were guided through the Jewish history of Oświęcim, toured the fortress of Brest and met with witnesses as well as visited a mass grave in Bronnaya Gora. 

Reflecting on the trip, Jonathan, a student at Georgetown University, wrote, “What Father Desbois and Yahad-In-Unum are doing is essential to securing the memory of these victims, lost in the deep chasm that is the Holocaust. When you walk through the gates of Auschwitz you see cases filled with shoes, hair, and suitcases, but when you walk into the shooting site of Bronnaya Gora, you are faced with the horrifying realization that few people remember the Jews of Brest.”

Learn more about the Spring Break Field Course through the students’ blog posts on our Travel Log.

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