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Internship Experience at the Jewish Museum in Berlin

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Wei with a pair of women’s shoes found in Auschwitz from Shanghai

One of our students, Wei Zhang, from China has recently completed an internship with the Jewish Museum in Berlin. His research revolved around Jews in Shanghai during the Holocaust. Wei helped the museum translate documents from Chinese to German and English, bringing to life stories that were otherwise lost in archives. He’s written about some of his experiences in the museum’s blog. Here’s the link to the blog post:

http://www.jmberlin.de/blog-en/2017/06/jewish-life-in-shanghai/

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Polin Museum: An All-Encompassing View of Jewish Life in Warsaw

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Our students in front of a memorial to the Polish Jews outside of the Polin Museum.

While in Warsaw, the study tour group went through the Polin Museum. The museum showcases history of Jewish people in Poland, starting in the Dark Ages. The opening exhibition of the museum relays the story of the first Jew to come to Poland, said to be a merchant, and as he traveled through the land he heard from heaven: “Po-lin (Poe-Leen)” or in Hebrew “rest here.”


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Behind the Scenes of the Museum and Memorial Auschwitz-Birkenau

Walking through the gates of Auschwitz was surreal. The infamous camp sees about one million visitors every year. Each of the barracks have been renovated as exhibition spaces or offices, and many of the exhibitions have been organized by specific countries for the Jews from these respective countries. In 1947, Auschwitz became a protected site of the state with the purpose of remembering those who perished there. Since then, the staff has been preserving and conserving the site and artifacts found at the site.

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Touring the Former Warsaw Ghetto

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Near the apartment complex, there is this small memorial to those that died in the ghetto, and some information about ghetto.

On Shabbat, the study tour group took a walking tour through what was previously the Warsaw Ghetto. Despite Nazi intentions to destroy Warsaw as they pulled out of Poland, pieces of the city still stand, including sections of the wall. We visited a quiet corner of an apartment complex where a portion of the Warsaw Ghetto wall remained. At this intersection, we talked about smuggling into the Warsaw Ghetto. During the first few months after the establishment of the ghetto, walls were built between buildings using existing walls, so houses at the edge of the ghetto had windows that gave access to the outside world. As a result, children were often used as smugglers and breadwinners for their families because they could fit through windows and were often less suspicious. Through the years, Nazis built walls in the middle of streets to restrict underground activities, though this did not end smuggling.

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Dr. Jan Grabowski’s New Course: The Extermination of Polish Jews, 1939-1945

grabowski_smallDr. Jan Grabowski visited the University of Haifa earlier this Spring. During his visit he gave a lecture on Jews in Poland to our students, and moreover he filmed the videos for an online course which will be available to current students. Dr. Jan Grabowski is a professor at the University of Ottawa, originally from Poland, he offers a growing network to our students.

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Our visit to Poland: the Lublin Ghetto and Museum

IMG_3756 While in Lublin, our group visited the NN Theatre. After the fall of communism in Poland, there was a surge to regain the memories lost about the war. The project’s goal was to study and learn about Jewish history in WWII, and it started at the Grodzka Gate, or the gate to the Jewish Quarter in old Lublin, which became the NN Theatre. Coincidently, it was also the gate to the Jewish Ghetto during the Holocaust and it was part of an underground black market in Lublin.

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Cohort V’s Visit to the Lublin Ghetto: Death and Camp Pride

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Students Chenda and Coos standing in the gas chamber, this one was used for the disinfection of clothes.

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Student Anat looking into a storage room for Zyklon B pellets.

Recently, Cohort V took a study tour through Poland, with our guide John Phillips. Our first day in Poland, we drove to Majdanek and spent the day there, learning about the death camp. The first building we went through were the disinfection and gas chambers, which were still stained blue from the Zyklon B pellets.

When we left the building, one of our students shared about an artist that she research through the Ghez Collection course, Léon Weissberg. Weissberg was born in Przeworsk, Poland in 1895, and studied in the art academies of Vienna and Munich. In 1923, he moved to Paris, the heart of the avant garde. Weissberg had a wife and daughter who was born and raised in Paris. He was best known for his Parisian cityscapes and circus scenes. After the Nazis invaded France, he escaped with his family to the South of France but they were betrayed by two French Vichy policemen. They were arrested and sent to Gurs concentration camp in February 1943, and on March 6, 1943 Weissberg was deported to Majdanek death camp.

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Strochliz Institute for Holocaust Research
University of Haifa
1 Abba Hushi Blvd.
Mt. Carmel, Haifa 3478601,
Israel.
Tel: +972+48240613
9:00 AM to 4:00 PM
Sunday through Thursday
email: ygranot@univ.haifa.ac.il