WCNC highlights Elon Winter Term course on International Holocaust Remembrance Day

During the Winter Term course led by Rich Landesberg from the School of Communications, students visited concentration and death camps across Europe.

Charlotte NBC affiliate WCNC recently marked International Holocaust Remembrance Day by highlighting an Elon Winter Term course that took students to concentration and death camps across Europe.

Students visiting Nozyk Synagogue, one of two in Warsaw serving 600 Jews. It was one of the stops they made in the Polish city. (Photo courtesy of Rich Landesberg)

The powerful three-week “Remembering the Holocaust” Course, led by Associate Professor of Journalism Rich Landesberg, is designed to help carry on the collective memory of the Holocaust as it moves further into history. The course was introduced at Elon about 20 years ago, and is preceded by a preparatory course during fall semester.

“We do it because it’s important,” Landesberg told the station. “We do it because today is 78 years since the liberation of Auschwitz by the Russians. And in 78 years, that memory is starting to fade and we want to make sure that memory stays alive. And when you take 20-year-olds to these camps, that memory stays alive, not just for those 20-year-olds but with their children, their grandchildren, people that they will be talking to into the 22nd century.”

The course is one of dozens that sent nearly 800 Elon students across the country and around the world during Winter Term, which took place during January.

Landesberg told WCNC that when students get off the bus at a camp, “the silence is palpable” as they process where they are and what they are seeing.

“Going in January is special because you don’t have warm weather, you don’t have birds singing. It’s January. And we go to these camps. And we go to the rooms where hundreds of people spent the night in rooms built for 10s of people. And the wind whips through those rooms and it’s cold. But we have coats on, we have boots on. And unlike the people there, we get to go home, we get to leave, we get to get on a warm bus, and go back to our nice hotel room and have hot chocolate. And that lesson is not lost on any of us. We all get it. And that is the moment when classroom teaching becomes a reality.”

In addition to Auschwitz, this year’s group of 28 students visited Mauthausen, Majdanek, Treblinka and Buchenwald. They also visited memorials and locations of historical importance to the Holocaust in Nuremberg, Vienna, Budapest, Krakow, Warsaw, and Berlin.

Watch the WCNC segment for more details.