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On September 13, 2019 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.

How Hungary is Covering up the Truth about its Past

By Maryrose Dollard

By Maryrose Dollard

Within Hungary’s capital city Budapest, there is a museum dedicated to the tragedies that Hungarian citizens have faced throughout the 20th century, named the House of Terror. Even though the museum is dedicated to the victims of the Nazi regime and communism, there is little within the museum to demonstrate that. more

Roma Persecution Across Time

By Aaron Alonso

By Aaron Alonso

The Roma people have long faced persecution within Europe’s borders tracing as far back as to the reign of the Habsburg empire. Their lifestyle has long been an issue for European countries for being “nomadic” and having an “uncivilized” way of life. more

The Jewish Auschwitz Center: Putting Oshpitsin Back on the Map

By Jackie Murrer

By Jackie Murrer

Auschwitz is a name most commonly used in reference to the largest concentration camp of World War II. However, the German occupation derived this name after the pre-existing town that they took over to run the camps. more

Germany Needs to Make Amends with Its Past Beyond Nazism: The Fight to Shed Light on Colonial History

By April Dvorak

By April Dvorak

Throughout my studies in Central Europe, the history and commemoration of the Holocaust and WWII have been dominant themes I encountered. It was only until I visited the African Quarter in Berlin that my studies expanded beyond the atrocities Nazi Germany committed in Central Europe. more

Multifaceted Remembrance of Communism–The Good and the Bad

By Luke Burke

By Luke Burke

Soviet domination of Eastern and Central Europe stretched so far across so many borders for a majority of the 20th century, thus its place in the identity of nations affected by it can never be discounted or forgotten. more

Memorializing the Marginalized Groups Within the Holocaust

By Hannah Gavin

By Hannah Gavin

As we are coming to the end of our travels abroad, I have been reflecting on the different countries we visited. Each of these countries involved in the Holocaust have chosen to remember their histories as perpetrators, collaborators or victims of the Nazi regime in distinctly different ways. more

Don’t Judge Poland Before You’ve Walked Centuries in its Shoes, and Don’t Judge an Uprising by its Museum

By Esme Rummelhart

By Esme Rummelhart

An anthropologist-in-training, I am eager to learn how the political landscape of Central Europe today intertwines with its history, and with the cultures and identities of its people. Though it is sometimes difficult for me to understand, governments here seem to lean further and further to the right, backed by public acceptance and support. more

The Warsaw Uprising in Verse

By Caroline Simon

By Caroline Simon

During World War II, Warsaw was the center of Polish civilization and became “the center of urban resistance to Nazi rule in occupied Europe.” In the summer of 1944, it had the largest uprising the war saw. The uprising did not emerge from thin air, however; there was a long buildup of planning and resistance. more

Displaced Polish Children During World War II

By Kate Christie

By Kate Christie

You’re a child, living in Poland pre-World War II. For many of you, life was good. Many of you’d wake up every morning, in a home that you and your family shared. Life was good, until it wasn’t anymore. more

In the Kazimierz district of Krakow, there stand seven synagogues

By Zoe Fruchter

By Zoe Fruchter

In Poland, the presence of this many synagogues is extraordinary. The majority of synagogues in this country have been destroyed by pogroms, obliterated by bombing in World War II, abandoned and left to crumble in disrepair, or repurposed for other uses now that the large majority of Poland’s Jewish population is gone. more

The Berlin Wall: More than Just a Physical Partition

By Madison Bollart

By Madison Bollart

For the past couple of months I had been looking forward to our trip to Berlin. However, this would not be my first time in the city. A few years ago I visited on my own, not with any intention other than to be a tourist. I had booked the trip knowing very little about Berlin or its history. more

Walls

By Cesar Gray

By Cesar Gray

We live much of our lives enclosed in walls, and for many of us living in free societies, those walls can actually be quite the comfort. I’d go out on a limb and say most of us don’t frequently think about the walls we live in. more

The Otherization by the Nazi Regime

By Aaron Alonso

By Aaron Alonso

On our trip to Berlin, Germany we got a more in-depth look at some of the groups of people persecuted in the Third Reich. I was also able to learn more about who was considered as being part of the German “Volk” through information displayed at the Topography of Terror. more

Comedy Post-Communist Wroclaw

By Luke Burke

By Luke Burke

My favorite place to go in Wroclaw has quickly become a comedy club right down the street from where our group has been staying because it is a perfect manifestation of the new society post communism. more

Holocaust Memory Through Personalization

By Hannah Gavin

By Hannah Gavin

Studying the Holocaust is an emotional task. It can be easy to de-personalize what happened during the genocide and reduce it to mere statistics. Throughout my time in Central Europe I have found myself grabbing onto the stories I find that remind me that this six million, were mothers, fathers, sons and daughters. more

Mime Through Time: The Art of Henryk Tomaszewski From Post-Stalinist Poland to Today

By April Dvorak

By April Dvorak

To enhance my experience of studying and traveling around Central Europe, I have been fortunate enough to take part in an internship at the Wroclaw Pantomime Theatre (Wrocławski Teatr Pantomimy im. Henry Tomaszewskiego). Little did I know the contribution Henryk Tomaszewski’s highly personalized vision for theatre made to the flourishing of independent art in Poland in the communist era and after. more

A Memorial in Dialogue: Reflecting on History in Berlin

By Esme Rummelhart

By Esme Rummelhart

Artists must make a multitude of choices when designing memorials, and we saw many approaches on display in Berlin. I found the Memorial to the Sinti and Roma Victims of National Socialism (commonly known as the Nazism) to be particularly effective. Designed by Daniel Karavan, this memorial is powerful in its ability to connect past and present, spurring reflection and curiosity. more

Resisting Fear: The Ringelblum Archive

By Kate Christie

By Kate Christie

Resistance can take many forms. It can be physical, meaning to uproot given oppressive institutions through explicit verbal or armed struggle. But what about spiritual resistance; a form of resistance–while less explicit, but just as crucial? more

Oswiecim: Living in Auschwitz Today

By Jackie Murrer

By Jackie Murrer

When someone mentions the name, “Auschwitz”, the first thing that most likely comes to mind is the concentration camp in Poland, Auschwitz-Birkenau. But, did you know that this camp was actually named for a historic town where the Nazis established the camp – Oswiecim, which is still a functioning town today? more

The Presence of Absence: Remembering the Holocaust on Yom Kippur

By Zoe Fruchter

By Zoe Fruchter

I am not a particularly observant Jew, but my family makes the minor pilgrimage to our local synagogue once a year for the high holidays of Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur, particularly for Kol Nidre. Even amongst secular Jews the high holidays represent a sacred connection to the Jewish community, the affirmation of another year in the presence of those who share your culture and roots. I set an intention to follow this tradition even while studying abroad in Poland, to find a synagogue in which to observe the closing of one year and the opening of another. more

When Good Intentions Don’t Translate into Proper Actions

By Maryrose Dollard

By Maryrose Dollard

During my travels through Krakow, Poland located not far from the Nazi death camp Auschwitz-Birkenau and Berlin, Germany, which is home to the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe, I noticed a similar trend at each site I had the honor of visiting. I felt that visitors at each site were not behaving with respect to the victims. more

Erasing the Past: How Totalitarian Regimes Sought to Camouflage their Crimes

By Madison Bollart

By Madison Bollart

When we think about totalitarianism, an immediate reaction often associates such a form of government with restriction, political repression, and complete control. In studying the 20th century particularly, we see this political system deem a particular prominence in Europe more times than one, specifically in Germany. more

Navigating Berlin’s Ode to its Past

By Caroline Simon

By Caroline Simon

I find myself in the midst of Berlin’s former “no man’s land” in the Berlin Wall, much of which has been covered up, erased. In front of our group stand 2,711 gray blocks in a grid– orderly yet chaotic in what it will invoke in my mind– covering 200,000 square feet of land: the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe. more

Peace where Peace was Lost: Civil Society’s Role in Challenging the Marginalization of Roma People

By Kate Christie

By Kate Christie

Throughout our travels across Europe, we’ve been exposed to various accounts of inhumanity; inhumanity—whether propagated on xenophobic or racist principles—that’s left a devastating legacy. I was particularly struck by how its legacy has affected Central European Roma. more

Different interpretations of the Holocaust

By Aaron Alonso

By Aaron Alonso

In the various countries that we have visited throughout Central Europe we are confronted with different interpretations of the Holocaust.  Some citizens of Austria and Hungary admit to the role they performed to shape what would lead to the mass genocide of Jews. more.

Peeling Back the Whitewash: Understanding Austria’s Role in the Past Through its Memorials

By Madison Bollart

By Madison Bollart

Throughout our two weeks of travel in Central Europe, it was rather easy to become captivated by incredible architecture, views, and artistic displays within all of the cities we had the opportunity to visit. Vienna however resonated with me the strongest; not only  for what I saw while I was there, but for what I did not see. more

The Right to be a Cosmopolitan

By April Dvorak

By April Dvorak

As I immerse myself in Central Europe through travel and studies, I have become fascinated in Kwame Anthony Appiah’s writing about cosmopolitanism. Appiah explores that every human holds value and are entitled to live according to different ideals. more

A Proper Monument to the Jewish Victims of the Holocaust

By Hannah Gavin

By Hannah Gavin

“How does one mourn for six million people who died? How many candles does one recite? Do we know how to remember the victims, their solitude their helplessness? They left us without a trace, and we are their trace.” Ellie Wiesel more

Opening my Eyes to Antisemitism’s Development in the Interwar Period

By Caroline Simon

By Caroline Simon

I thought I knew plenty from classes I have taken, books I have read, and movies I have watched; I was certain, however, that being in the places where these atrocities took place would be an experience different than what I could have imagined. more

Hitchcock, Welles, Kurosawa, Riefenstahl?

By Luke Burke

By Luke Burke

I was unsure of what to do on my first night in Vienna. I wanted to do something educational, and looking back on it now I think what I did was more thought provoking than any museum exhibition I could have stumbled upon. more

How the Mob Mentality Affected Europe for 50 years

By Maryrose Dollard

By Maryrose Dollard

In my studies in Central Europe, the information tour guides shared with us that was most interesting to me was sometimes not even said explicitly but nestled in underlying facts. more

The House of Terror: A Distortion of Public Trust

By Jackie Murrer

Whether it be for art, architecture, or history, museums serve as magnificent places to see artifacts from pivotal moments in history or art, and places to fully immerse yourself in another time period. more

The Transmission of Memory

By Esme Rummelhart

By Esme Rummelhart

Traveling through Central Europe, history surrounds us from every angle; fragments of old city walls in Vienna, the fortifications of empires from a distant era, back up against apartment complexes and sit across the street from McDonalds. more

Beyond Monuments: Street Names as Alternative Memorials in Vienna and Wrocław

By Zoe Fruchter

By Zoe Fruchter

“The everyday phrases are the hardest to change,” says our Polish Language instructor, Łukasz, as he explains to five confused Americans how to introduce ourselves in this new language. more

Monopoly on Violence

Gray Cesar

By Cesar Gray

Say, if violence were a product, exchangeable and possessable as any other commodity, then perhaps there are no greater examples of its monopolization than those of the totalitarian regimes of Europe in the 20th century. more

© Copyright 2020 - Urban Labs Central Europe      Created by: DIGITALBATH, Hana Červinková & Juliet D. Golden