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Students travelling to Poland to study Holocaust representations


​A group of Nipissing students are travelling to Poland to visit some of the darkest places on earth, places where profound horrors occurred, horrors that continue to shock humanity to this day. The students will be casting a light on the Holocaust, specifically, how it is represented, commemorated, and remembered.

As part of the third-year experiential learning course, Into that Darkness: Memory of the Holocaust in Poland, 10 students are spending two weeks in Poland, from May 14 to May 27. In partnership with Polish Holocaust educators and expert guides, the group will visit important sites of Polish-Jewish history and tour specific museums in order to learn in a hands-on way about various dimensions of the Holocaust. Some of the places they’ll visit include Schindler's museum, Plaszow concentration Camp, Izbica transit camp, the new Jewish museum in Warsaw, and the death camps of Auschwitz-Birkenau, Majdanek, and Belzec, as well as a variety of other places.

The course is taught by Dr. Hilary Earl, associate professor of History and an expert in the cultural impact of the Holocaust in the 21st century. Her book The Nuremberg SS-Einsatzgruppen Trial, 1945-1958: Atrocity, Law, and History, won the 2010 Hans Rosenberg prize. Most recently, Dr. Earl co-edited Lessons and Legacies XI: Expanding Perspectives on the Holocaust in a Changing World published with Northwestern University Press.

“The Holocaust is a dark and challenging topic, that’s why it’s important that we examine it and discuss how it is memorialized and remembered by different populations. It is vital for students of History to understand how memorials and museums are continually shaped and re-shaped by contemporary politics and by ideological and nationalist imperatives,” said Dr. Earl. “The students know what to expect and we have scheduled time for them to decompress and process what they’ve witnessed, as it can be difficult to digest. They will also be writing journals to reflect on what they’ve seen and learned.”

Student Maddy Aucoin first heard about the trip from Dr. Earl in a previous course.

“Dr. Earl’s teaching was very in-depth and really captivated me. It was refreshing to be able to form our own opinions and discuss them and challenge each other as students with a professor who was so encouraging,” said Aucoin. “The trip and course are sure to be challenging. I’m a little nervous about the content because it is so dark, but I’m very excited about going. I’m planning to go to graduate school and this trip seemed like a perfect opportunity to see first-hand what I was learning. I’m especially interested in the tour of Oscar Schindler’s factory, to see how it plays out in real life compared to the movie, Schindler’s List.”

Nipissing University partnered with Wilfrid Laurier University for this trip. Dr. Eva Plach, associate professor, and 10 students from Laurier are joining the Nipissing contingent.

Nipissing graduate, Kyle Falcon (BA’10), currently pursuing a doctorate degree at Laurier, is also participating in the trip as a teaching assistant.

Nipissing University
100 College Drive, Box 5002, North Bay, ON, Canada  P1B 8L7
Tel: 705.474.3450 | Fax: 705.474.1947 | TTY: 877.688.5507
Brantford Campus
50 Wellington St.
Brantford, ON, Canada N3T 2L6
Tel: 519.752.1524 | Fax: 519.752.8372

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