CGES students to lead discussion on growing up German after the Holocaust

The Center for German and European Studies will host a student-led talk on World War II, the Holocaust and growing up German. 

"My Oma, the Tank Driver – My Papa, the Survivor” will feature students and student assistants who work at the Center on April 15 in the Mandel Reading Room from 7 to 9 p.m. A reception for the event will begin at 6:30 p.m.; admission is free and open to the public. 

The talk, given by Jonathan Jecker ’13, Sarah Klapisch ’13, Nelly Schlaefereit ’15, and Alex Schmidt ’14 and moderated by Elena Korn ’13 and Abe Feldan ’14, will focus on their mixed family backgrounds, upbringings, and schooling.

Jecker, Klapisch, Schlaefereit, and Schmidt are all student assistants at the Center for German and European Studies. Several weeks ago, during a meeting to discuss upcoming events at the Center, the students had a conversation about the Holocaust and felt it would be good to share their different experiences with their families and in relation to their educational paths. 

“Throughout my childhood, and even still in high school I have been called a Nazi more than once, even if at times it was meant to be in a joking way,” said Schlaefereit. 

Schlaefereit will look to raise more awareness on the past and how it is important to acknowledge mistakes in the past but not dwell on them. One overall goal the speakers have set is to shed light on the differences in Holocaust education that students receive, especially as German students.  

The title of the event is derived from Schmidt’s grandmother, who was a tank driver in the Waffen-SS and Klapisch’s father, who was raised as a Christian during World War II despite being born Jewish. 

“The April 15th discussion will revolve around how we have come to terms with our family histories, how we learned about World War II and the Holocaust, and what it means to have a German background today,” Jecker said. 

Categories: International Affairs, Student Life

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