For Judy Schancupp, an educator with the Georgia Commission on the Holocaust in Sandy Springs, the best way to teach adults and children about the horrors of the Nazi concentration camps of World War II is to actually visit such a camp.
The Jewish Foundation for the Righteous gave the Sandy Springs resident that opportunity when it selected 11 middle and high school teachers from across the country, including personnel from Holocaust museums, to participate in its 2019 European Study Program July 9 through 17. Schancupp was chosen for the trip for the second straight year.
As part of the program, the group visited concentration site camps in Germany, Austria and the Czech Republic.
Through lectures and visits to authentic Holocaust sites, they gained a deeper understanding of the complex and tragic history of the Nazi’s systematic killing of six million Jews.
The program is a high-level, intensive and immersive educational experience. In addition to concentration sites, the group visited ghetto sites and Holocaust memorials.
On this trip, noted historian Robert Jan van Pelt, one of the world’s leading experts on the Holocaust, served as the accompanying scholar for the European Study Program.
“This was a trip to educate the educators about this dark chapter in history during World War II,” Schancupp said. “It was designed to make us, as educators and museum personnel who teach about the Holocaust, more comfortable in doing so. There is nothing like being on site and seeing the places where this evil occurred.”
The trip began with the group traveling to Munich, Germany, where they explored buildings which once housed the Nazi headquarters as well as documentation centers and the city’s White Rose Pavement Memorial, according to a news release from the foundation.
Following their stop in Munich, the group traveled to Nuremburg, Prague and Vienna, with the study program including visits to the Flossenburg, Theresienstadt and Mauthausen concentration camp sites. The educators also visited Holocaust-related and Jewish historic sites in each of the cities.
“What was taught to us I will share with those in Sandy Springs as well as travelling into rural Georgia to teach about the Holocaust,” said Schancupp, who also hosts such programs at the “Anne Frank in the World: 1929-1945” exhibit in Sandy Springs.
Throughout the study program, participants had an opportunity to review and reflect on what they learned during their time at these Holocaust sites, and how to bring those lessons into their classrooms and Holocaust museums and centers.
“As we continue to move further away from the Holocaust, it is more important to teach this period in history to the next generation,” foundation Executive Vice President Stanlee Stahl said in the news release. “By focusing our efforts on helping teachers actually see and experience the places where these complex events occurred, we believe it enhances their understanding and enables them to be more effective instructors in their classrooms.”
She also said visiting and studying at authentic Holocaust sites helps teachers better understand the enormity of the Holocaust and aids in making them more effective educators.
“We designed the program to help educators learn, touch and see the history of the Holocaust, so they can present it in a more meaningful and insightful way to their students and colleagues when they return to their schools,” Stahl said.