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You cannot learn this anywhere else in the world


Twenty-five U.S. soldiers undergoing training at the U.S. Army Combined Arms Center at Fort Leavenworth took part in the Raphael Lemkin Seminar, which took place from September 19 to 28. Its purpose was to analyze the issues of preventing genocide in the context of the history of Auschwitz. The seminar was co-organized by the International Centre for Education about Auschwitz and the Holocaust.

The seminar began with a tour of the site of the Auschwitz Concentration Camp. "I think that being at Auschwitz and Birkenau adds weight to education about genocide" Jeff Struecker, one of the participants, said "You cannot learn this anywhere else in the world. We are able to see this place from up close and learn about what had happened here. I think that an American soldier is not able to grasp the enormity and the gravity of those events without coming to a place like this".

The participants attended lectures given by specialists from Keene State College in New Hampshire, The Auschwitz Institute for Peace and Reconciliation, and the State Museum Auschwitz-Birkenau. Their subject matter concerned, among other things: the definition and history of genocide, the responsibility to protect populations from genocide, psychology of the perpetrators, the role of Auschwitz in the Holocaust against European Jews, and the diplomatic as well as economic ways to prevent crimes of genocide.

"Visiting this site makes me think differently about the issue of genocide and the importance of prevention" Michael Perry, a participant of the seminar, said. "I hope that everyone who visits Auschwitz leaves this place realizing how fragile human life is, and is mindful of the fact that societies, if we are not careful, can destroy human lives for their own interests" Jeff Struecker added.

Among the lecturers were: Dr. James Waller (Keene State College in New Hampshire), Alicja Bialecka (International Centre for Education about Auschwitz and the Holocaust), and Max Kelly (The Auschwitz Institute for Peace and Reconciliation).

The organizers of the seminar were the International Center for Education about Auschwitz and the Holocaust at the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum, Raphael Lemkin Center for the Prevention of Genocide and the Center for Holocaust Studies at the Jagiellonian University.

Raphael Lemkin, September 2010 r. photo: agju
Raphael Lemkin,...