From France, and then Switzerland, and on to Germany

This photo is from Monday, May 11 in Chambon-sur-Lignon, France.  We’re standing in front of the church of Andre Trocme, Trocme churchthe reformed church minister in the town who with his wife inspired the community of 5,000 people to shelter an equal number, mostly Jewish fleeing the holocaust.  The story of the courage of the towns of the region to simply open their doors to foreign strangers of a different faith is amazing and came for the students after we left Oradour-sur-Glane, the town that symbolizes the worst in human nature.  There is an absolutely wonderful film about Chambon, “Weapons of the Spirit,” produced by a Jewish film producer who happened to have been born in Chambon in 1944 while his family was living [hiding] on a farm outide of town.  The students also read a great book on Chambon, “Lest Innocent Blood be Shed.”  Even today, the current generation in Chambon is sheltering 25 refugee families from Verdun Cathedralplaces like Syria and Kosovo.

Here is the side wall of Verdun Cathedral (where there was the Pax Christi info) in France.  The outsides of the Cathedral are pick marked with holes from exploding shells from WWI.

PCINTL_in_Verdun

Last night in the back of Verdun Cathedral we found the French Pax Christi newsletter – prominently on the info table!

UN gate Geneva group

Heading to Switzerland, we had visits with international agencies and non-governmental organizations in Geneva.  The student really liked Jesuit Refugee Service, the World Council of Churches and Doctors Without Borders!

UN Conf Rm Group

These pictures are from our visits in Geneva, Switzerland.  Two are at the UN headquarters, one the gate and the other in one of the conference rooms.  In addition to touring the UN facilities, the students met with officials of the UN affiliated international Labor Organization (ILO).

Jesuit refugee group

This picture is from our meeting with Father Mike Gallagher, S.J., Geneva coordinator for Jesuit Refugee Service.  We met with both his office and also leaders of the World Council of Churches.

Nuremberg doc center discussion

This picture (it was hard to get a perfect one) was taken during a discussion of Alma students with a staff expert on propaganda at what is called the Nazi Documentation Center in Nuremberg.  The center (and there is a similar one we visited today in Munich) focuses on how an advanced, modern society could fall for a racist regime like the Nazis.  The discussion focused on some samples of propaganda from early in the 20th century.

Nuremberg courtroom 600

A picture of the courtroom where the Nuremberg Trials were held.

Nuremberg Justice Process

A picture of students going through the exhibit above the Nuremberg Trials courtroom that does an excellent job of showing the evolution of international justice from the 19th century through the International Criminal Court, showing both the pioneering role of U.S. leaders such as Abraham Lincoln through our failure to join the International Criminal Court.

Dachau Carmelite Convent

At the Dachau Concentration Camp students walk into the chapel, one of five at the former concentration camp (there are a
Catholic, Protestant, Russian Orthodox and Jewish center at the back of the former concentration camp just outside Munich).

In the afternoon of May 19 we visited the various White Rose memorials at Munich University.  This image shows one onWhite Rose Inside Univ. the wall of the foyer where Sophie Scholl distributed flyers by the anti-Nazi group (she was caught after this and she and her brother and other leaders were beheaded a few days later).  The university remembers the White Rose leaders, including their professor, Huber, who also was beheaded.

Sophie school fountain

This fountain, outside the main door of the University of Munich honors the Scholl Siblings who led the White Rose and who were beheaded in February 1943.  An identical fountain and park across the streets honors their Philosophy Professor Dr. Huber.  Here the Alma students stand by the fountain

Finally, on May 19 we visited the new Nazi Documentation Center in Munich (opened April 30, 2015) where we received an amazingly informative tour focused on the rise and legacy of Nazism.  In this photo, the Alma students are listening to a presentation on “fighting forgetting.”  The role of the museum is to educate the public both in Munich and around the world Nazi Doc Center Munich fight forgettingin learning from the rise of the Nazis and continued racism, anti-immigrant and super nationalistic movements.   How can modern societies avoid these movements which effectively use fear, economic uncertainty and modern propaganda techniques to turn societies against others?

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