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On September 14, 2018 we launched the Exploring Central Europe: History, Memory, and Identity Across Borders, a semester-long program organized in partnership with the University of Lower Silesia in Wroclaw, Poland  and Syracuse University. Together with our students, we begin our journey through which we explore the memories of conflict and ongoing processes of reconciliation in Central Europe.

Desecrated Graves: Tombstones and Selfies

By Aren Burnside

By Aren Burnside

When examining history, there is often a struggle between remembering people versus remembering facts, especially when it comes to tragedies. I felt this struggle when visiting Auschwitz-Birkenau. more

The Contrast Between Life and Death 

By Kristen Varganova

By Kristen Varganova

As we’ve traveled from one country to the next, the number of visits to mass murder remembrance sites increased dramatically. Aside from the painful history, most memorials that we visited on our trips were set alongside breathtaking scenery. more

Memory Culture, in Three Parts

By Abbey Metzler

By Abbey Metzler

I had been in Poland for just over a month, when I suddenly found myself in the Poland I had always read about. Well, it never was called by the name Poland in those stories. It was just a place. Usually a dark place, with endless woods encroaching on the safety of a village. That is the Poland of Slavic folklore. more

More than a Statistic: Memorializing Jewish Victims of the Holocaust as Individuals Rather than a Number 

By Clare Toner

By Clare Toner

As I entered Auschwitz for the first time, I did my best to hold back tears when we walked through the gas chambers where thousands of Jews were brutally murdered and looked at exhibits holding shoes that were taken from Jews upon their arrival at the camp. more

Observation from German History Studies

By Edward You

By Edward You

During my stay in Berlin, the experience in the African Quarter is certainly a unique one. The area’s name is tied to Germany’s colonial past. A rather inconspicuous neighborhood nowadays, there, one finds streets named after German colonies in Africa and infamous German colonizers. more

The Children of Atrocities 

By Anthony Russo

By Anthony Russo

Before coming to Europe and seeing all the memorial sites to past atrocities, I thought I had a decent understanding of what had happened during the Nazi and Communist regimes. I knew that it was a time of great injustices against mankind, and that hundreds of thousands of people perished. more

Auschwitz-Birkenau: Working in Secret 

By Kyra McDermott

By Kyra McDermott

In today’s recounting of history, Auschwitz-Birkenau is often at the forefront of Holocaust memory as the best-known concentration and extermination camp from this era. However, Auschwitz-Birkenau operated in secret for years during the Holocaust before any action was taken to liberate the prisoners. more

Suffering for Freedom: Socialist Realism in Memorialization

By Taylor Krzeminski

By Taylor Krzeminski

The capital of a former fascist and communist state, a city of destruction and liberation – Berlin occupies a special place in memorial culture. At the Treptower Park Soviet Memorial, historical memorialization intertwines with politics, past suffering lives with red pride; all standing through the lens of socialist realism. more

Who’s Watching? 

By Sarah McLafferty

By Sarah McLafferty

One of the most characteristic aspects of the communist rule in 20th century Central and Eastern Europe was the use of the secret police to keep the population in line with the ideals of the party. The secrecy surrounding the secret police have captivated people’s interests while also evoking a sense of fear for almost thirty years after the fall of communism. more

Rethinking Remembrance

By Rody Conway

By Rody Conway

The 20th century was a century of unprecedented growth, prosperity, and freedom. Conversely, the events of the 20th century set the bar for the scope of human cruelty. While genocide has existed for as long as there have been people, the frequency of large-scale attempts at eliminating entire defined groups of people peaked in the last century. more

What Constitutes a Good Museum?

By Ciera Moore

By Ciera Moore

Since coming to Central Europe, we have visited many museums. Some of them were really interesting and introduced us to new information like the Holocaust museum in Budapest. Other museums were not as informative or were very flashy and over-the-top such as the House of Terror also located in Budapest. more

The Birth of an Idea 

By Raymundo Juarez

By Raymundo Juarez

At 6:00, on a Saturday morning, my alarm rang the new day in, waking me up for one of my regular A.M. runs. The circumstances, however, were not regular. This was my first morning waking up in a foreign country, having landed in the city of Budapest less than 12 hours before. more

This History Is (Not) For You 

By Aren Burnside

By Aren Burnside

Monuments, memorials, and museums all attempt to convey history to their visitors. Yet what audience are these structures aimed at? To whom are these monuments, memorials, and museums meant to teach history? In an era of increasing globalization and international travel, it might be easy to say everyone. more

Nations as Extended Family

By Autumn McMillan

By Autumn McMillan

I’ve been to five countries in the last two weeks – Hungary, Slovakia, Austria, Poland, and Czech Republic. When I call home to my friends I always make sure to open up with this punch-line. more

By Edward You

By Edward You

Is There a Common Memory Between Europe and China?

The year of 2018 marks the 5th anniversary of the “Belt and Road Initiative”. The name of this program itself is an attempt to echo the very early contact between China and Europe along with other neighbor countries. more

By Mia White

By Mia White

In the Public Eye: Budapest Monuments and the Idea of Victimhood

Budapest is known for its many gorgeous and unique landmarks that are scattered among the city from one block to another. Buda and Pest, once two different cities on opposite sides of the Danube, have two very different lifestyles and cultures. more

The Political Power of Victimhood and Guilt

By Jay Skelton

By Jay Skelton

Everyone has been a victim of something, of someone; and, because of that, everyone feels sorry for a fellow victim.  Everyone can respect a fellow victim.  Everyone can trust a fellow victim. more

The Roma Are People Too 

By Clare Toner

By Clare Toner

Part of what drew me to the Central Europe Program offered by Syracuse University is its focus on the Holocaust. Prior to beginning this semester abroad, I considered myself to be well-versed on this subject. more 

By Kyra McDermott

By Kyra McDermott

Let History Speak for Itself

In every corner of the world, monuments and memorials are created to commemorate pieces of the past that need to be remembered. During our travels throughout Europe, I began to pay closer attention to the effectiveness of each of these memorials. more 

Overshadowing Holocaust Remembrance in Central Europe 

By Taylor Krzeminski

By Taylor Krzeminski

In Central Europe, memorialization of lost life during and after the Third Reich rarely centers on how to remember, but who is worth remembering. Places of remembrance often engage in rewriting history – distancing citizens from complicity under fascist and communist parties as times of ‘foreign occupation’. more

By Rody Conway

By Rody Conway

Anachronistic Architecture 

Can a city be out-of-place?  Vienna and Budapest, the two capitals of the former dual-monarchy of Austria-Hungary, don’t feel like they belong in the 21st century. The abundance of intact gothic, renaissance, and baroque architecture places these two cities in a sort of limbo in time. more 

Places of Worship Commercialized 

By Anthony Russo

By Anthony Russo

During all of our travels the one thing I was most taken back by was the synagogues we visited. I was raised in a very catholic/Christian household. I had been to a number of different churches from a variety of different denominations of Christianity. more

Children of The Diaspora

By Hanz Valbuena

By Hanz Valbuena

“Asgard is not a place, it’s a people.” Thor: Ragnarok may have been heavily and rightfully criticized, but when I heard this line, it hit home. My concept of nationality and identity is ever so inconsistent and fluid, but I want to believe that a nation lives through its people, not its land. more

Reformers, Protesters, and Dissidents in a Communist Czechoslovakia

By Alexander Wilgocki

By Alexander Wilgocki

Depending on your age, it may be difficult to imagine a world where the Czech Republic and Slovakia were one nation. Today, two nations exist with their own flags, languages, currency in use (Slovakia uses the Euro while the Czech Rep. has the koruna), and beautiful cities and landscapes. more

Memorialization Through Romafuturism 

By Tayla Myree

By Tayla Myree

“We need a Malcolm X,” said Ladislava Gaziova, a Romani activist and one of the founders of Prague’s Romafuturism Library. She went on to describe the many acts of discrimination that the Romani people have had to face such as unequal access to education, unemployment, housing discrimination, colorism, and many other issues. more

Hammer and Sickle; Canvas and Brush 

By Abbey Metzler

By Abbey Metzler

Let me tell you a story. The year is 1963. You live in a town up in the hills outside of Budapest. Your country, the Hungarian People’s Republic, is run by the Hungarian Socialist Workers’ Party. Or really it is run by men in Moscow who have never been to your town, and you certainly will never visit theirs. more 

Looking At Central Europe Through Its Synagogues 

By Ciera Moore

By Ciera Moore

The influence of Jewish culture and religion is apparent all throughout Europe to this day, despite the efforts of the Nazi regime to destroy it. Even if there were no remaining synagogues or religious places, there are monuments commemorating the victims of the Holocaust. more 

What Makes a Nation a Victim?

By Sarah McLafferty

By Sarah McLafferty

There are certain elements of European history that even those disinterested in the subject are familiar with. Among the most prominent are the events of World War II, and specifically the Nazi perpetration of the Holocaust. While this is discussed throughout middle school, high school, and beyond, oftentimes the history of how nations come to terms with their painful pasts is left out. more

Painful Prague

By Kristen Varganova

By Kristen Varganova

Although all the countries we visited throughout our first two weeks of travel were exceptionally beautiful and filled with unique history; the city that resonated most with me was Prague. From the delicate architecture to the painful stories of the Czech-Roma, Prague was the hardest goodbye yet. more 

Protesting A Memorial With Another Memorial: How Hungary Remembers Its Role In The Holocaust 

MEREDITH

By Meredith Conway

How can we accurately and fairly recount history? Who should be memorialized and who should not be? These questions ran like a constant thread throughout our first two weeks of traveling to four different cities. more

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