Student Dispatches from France: Firsthand learning about the Holocaust

May 28, 2010

University Park, Pa. — In early May, nine Penn State students traveled to Paris to participate in a week-long study tour led by Willa Z. Silverman, professor of French and Jewish studies, on "France and the Holocaust." This embedded course, designed primarily for students in Silverman's Spring 2010 residential course on "France and the Holocaust in Film and Literature," encouraged students to prolong and intensify their study of this topic through both meetings with camp survivors, historians, "hidden children" and Resistance members, and visits to the sites of the Holocaust in France, including memorials and a concentration camp.

"In the end," reflected Silverman, "I hope that this trip will incite students to engage broader aesthetic, historical and ethical questions that concern each of us, such as the challenges of representing catastrophe, the dangers of intolerance, the duty to remember and the necessity of pursuing justice."

To read the entire series of student dispatches from the "France and the Holocaust" study tour, click here; to see sets of photos from the tour, click here.

  • At the Memorial de la Shoah, student Michelle Simon contemplates photographs and brief biographies of some of the 11,000 children deported from France during World War II. Relying on groundbreaking research by Serge Klarsfeld, this permanent exhibit reflects the emphasis in recent French historiography on 'individualizing' the Holocaust.

    IMAGE: Willa Silverman
Last Updated November 18, 2010