In Berlin, Teachers Grapple With Inner Workings of Nazi Machine

photo: Lev Gringauz – TC Jewfolk

This blog was written on JCRC’s Power of Place educators institute in Europe – an experiential professional development for teachers where learning unfolds as they tour historical sites across Europe in order to transform their understanding of the Holocaust, WWII, antisemitism, and Jewish life today. Power of Place is planned and co-led by Humanus Network on behalf of JCRC and generously supported by the Minnesota Vikings, the Tankenoff Families Foundation, and Allianz of America Corporation.

by Lev Gringauz in TC Jewfolk | July 2, 2024

BERLIN – Walking around Sachsenhausen, the Nazi concentration camp located outside of Berlin, Kirsten Croone was struck by the camp’s sheer size.

“What I didn’t expect was the vastness…because you’re looking at pictures, you don’t get the depth,” said Croone, a middle school teacher in St. Paul, Minn. “You don’t get the perception until you’re actually standing on the soil and are now at the place where it happened.”

Sachsenhausen was an experimental grounds for the methods that would torture and destroy European Jewry in the Holocaust, as the Nazis toyed with different ways to mass murder – various ways of shooting people to death, early gas chambers and vans – and developed the most efficient layouts for imprisoning, working, and starving people to death.

Walking around the flat plains of the camp, and seeing execution pits and the small crematorium, was humbling to the group of teachers Croone was a part of: The Power of Place educational trip run by the Jewish Community Relations Council of Minnesota and the Dakotas.

“I thought that I was pretty well versed in what happened during the Holocaust, and I can see bits of it…connection points of where my knowledge ends and where it begins,” said Alex Coffroth, a middle school teacher in Harrisburg, S.D. “But I had nowhere near the depth. That’s what I’ve received so far [on this trip]. It’s far and away more than I could have hoped for.”

Keep reading on TC Jewfolk.


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