Union University
Union University Dept of History

Department News

Union Students Participate in European Holocaust Travel Experience

Jun 1, 2008 - Seven Union University students were among thirty persons from four colleges and universities who participated in a European Holocaust trip that began on May 18 and ended on June 1, 2008. The tour included major stops in Berlin (Germany), Prague (Czech Republic), Cracow (Poland), and Warsaw (Poland). Dr. Alice-Catherine Carls, the Tom Elam Distinguished Professor of History at the University of Tennessee at Martin, coordinated the trip in close consultation with Union University’s Institute for International and Intercultural Studies and with Travelink, Incorporated, and she served as the overall faculty tour leader.

Students at Union took the course for history credit under the title of “History of the Holocaust,” and they spent the spring semester reading books and discussing the Holocaust in class to prepare for the trip. Dr. Stephen Carls taught the course and worked as one of the trip’s faculty leaders. Other schools that participated in the travel experience were the University of Tennessee at Martin, Rhodes College, and Mercer University. Dr. Stephen Haynes from Rhodes and Dr. David Gushee from Mercer were also among the group’s faculty leaders.

In addition to seeing major cultural sites in each city visited, participants visited sites related to the Holocaust. While in Berlin, for example, the group stopped at the Jewish Holocaust Memorial, went on side trips to Wannsee (where the Nazi party’s “Final Solution” for the Jews was decided in January, 1942) and Ravensbrück (a concentration camp for women), and visited a recently restored Jewish synagogue. On the way to Prague, the group spent much of an afternoon visiting the ghetto/concentration camp of Teresienstadt. In Cracow, the participants visited the Jewish quarter, drove by Oskar Schindler’s factory, and saw other landmarks related to the movie Schindler’s List. It was also while the group was lodging in Cracow that they spent a day visiting the Auschwitz-Birkenau death camp and then discussing it with Father/Dr. Manfred Deselaers at the Catholic Church’s Center for Dialogue and Prayer. During their stay in Warsaw, participants saw the city’s Jewish ghetto and went on a day-long side trip to see the site of the Treblinka death camp. In addition, they were given a preview of a Museum of the History of Polish Jews to be built soon in Warsaw and met Mr. Jerzy Halbersztadt, the project director.

As the group traveled, they also went to a variety of religious, artistic, and historic sites. These included cathedrals, art museums, literary museums, history museums, and historical landmarks such as the Reichstag in Berlin, the Charles Bridge in Prague, the Wawel Royal Castle and Cathedral in Cracow, and the Old Town in Warsaw. Throughout the trip, participants took time to eat at fine restaurants in order to taste local foods at their best.

Union students who participated in the travel/study experience were Kathleen Cooper, Benjamin Duffey, Rachel Hoyt, Sarah Johnson, Micah Snow, Alicia Stitch, and Nicole Tosh.

The Holocaust travel/study group stands in front of the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin on May 20, 2008.

Union student Micah Snow on May 20 looks at a part of the permanent exhibition at the site House of the Wannsee Conference, where Nazi leaders in January, 1942, made the “Final Solution” decision involving the liquidation of the Jews in Europe.

Dr. Alice-Catherine Carls does a literary reading for the Holocaust travel/study participants by the Ravensbrück concentration camp on May 21, 2009.

The Jewish Star of David and the Christian cross in a Czech national cemetery at Terezin (Theresienstadt) reflect the fact that both Jews and Christians died at the Nazis’ Theresienstadt concentration camp and prison during World War II. Dr. Stephen Carls took this photo on May 21.

Dr. Stephen Carls stands by the Charles Bridge in Prague on May 23, 2008.

Participants on a May 24 trip to Karlstejn Castle (outside Prague) get ready to visit the 14th century castle, which is on the hill behind them. Group members in the photograph are (left to right): B. J. Erwin (UTMartin), Collin Pinner (UTMartin) Dr. Stephen Carls (Union), Dr. Michael Kempf (UTMartin), Ben Duffey (Union), Micah Snow (Union), and Tiffany Erwin (UTMartin). Dr. Alice-Catherine Carls (UTMartin) took the photo.

One has a magnificent view of Prague from the Petrin Lookout Tower. Dr. Stephen Carls took this photo from on high on May 24.

The Union University contingent stands in the Renaissance-style courtyard of the Wawel Royal Castle in Cracow on May 26. Group members are (left to right): Dr. Stephen Carls, Ben Duffey, Micah Snow, Sarah Johnson, Rachel Hoyt, Kathleen Cooper, Nicole Tosh, and Alicia Stitch.

Travel participants prepare to eat dinner at the Trattoria Soprano in Cracow on May 26, 2008. They are (clockwise) Collin Pinner, Nicole Tosh, Moses Bushnell, Elizabeth Sharpe, Janette Laughlin, Dr. Alice-Catherine Carls, Kathleen Cooper, Micah Snow, Ben Duffey, Sarah Johnson, Alicia Stitch, and Dr. Michael Kempf. Dr. Stephen Carls, who was also there, took the photo.

Holocaust travel participants prepare to enter Auschwitz death camp on May 27, 2008. Union student Ben Duffey is in the left foreground.

One gets an idea of the vastness of the Birkenau death camp from the top of the camp’s entrance gate, where this photo was taken by Dr. Stephen Carls on May 27.

Alicia Stitch (left) and Nicole Tosh gaze across a large gravel pit at the Treblinka death camp on May 27.

The Westin Hotel, where Holocaust travel participants stayed in Warsaw, shines brightly at night.

Kathleen Cooper on May 29 stands beside a Buddy Bear representing Ireland at the United Buddy Bears exhibit traveling around the world to promote peace and harmony. The large outdoor exhibit of bears was in Warsaw in May and June, 2008.

Sarah Johnson (left to right), Nicole Tosh, and Alicia Stitch stand on a hill that is a part of the University of Warsaw Library complex on May 31, 2008.

Travel participants enjoy Polish foods at their farewell dinner in Warsaw on May 31, 2008.