Remembering Legacies of the Holocaust

September 17, 2009  

Katherine Bruce

The SMU Human Rights Education Program is co-sponsoring a three-month series examining how the Holocaust still affects us today. The program began September 9 and will run through the end of November. The program’s events are held on and off the SMU campus. The events are free and open to the public.

The next event features Professor Thomas Beauchamp discussing, “From the Nuremberg Code to the Belmont Report and the Final Rule: The Protection of Human Research Subjects in the 21 Century.” It will be in McCord Auditorium, Thursday, September 17 at 7 p.m. The next two events take place October 8, at the Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza, and October 22, at the Dallas Holocaust Museum. The series goes through November 23.

Every year, students travel to Poland during the coldest months of the year to make the 10-day trek through Nazi concentration camps. By visiting these sites under horrible weather conditions, the students can try to understand what happened to millions of innocent people over half a century ago.

The Holocaust began the modern human rights movement and anyone willing to work for a better world today needs to understand the historical significance of this time, human rights advocates say. With a three-month long series of lectures, films, exhibits and music, SMU is bringing the legacies of the Holocaust to students.

“We came up with the idea of looking at the legacies of the Holocaust in a variety of fields, the impact it had in law, theology, art, music and health care,” Associate Professor and Chair of Art History Janis Bergman-Carton said. “The partnership brought faculty from SMU, TCU, and UDallas together with the Holocaust Museum and Sixth Floor Museum in Dallas.”

It has been 70 years this September since the Nazis invaded Poland and began a military war in Europe. The idea behind the series was to reflect on the war within a war that was the Holocaust.

“This issue didn’t end in 1945, we are still plagued with the same horrors, the same human brutality that existed during the war and we have to ask ourselves what did we learn or why have we been slow to learn what our problem is,” Rick Halperin, director of SMU’s Human Rights Education Program, said. “I would hope that this series would be the beginning of people to ask disturbing and reflective questions about our world today.”

Halperin hopes the series will educate people to become aware of what happened and why it was allowed to happen. Although the series ends in November, Halperin believes the students and community that attended will want to continue to keep the memory of the Holocaust alive.

As Tom Mayo, director of SMU’s Maguire Center for Ethics and Public Responsibility, said, “There has to be something we can learn, taking out of that experience and taking it forward into our own lives and professions that will shape us. It’s hard to think about anything good coming out of the holocaust because it makes it seem like less an awful event but we have to remember in order to learn and we have to remember in order to grow.”

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