Summer Study Abroad

Read Danny Gabay's personal account of his experience on the Touro College Berlin Holocaust Studies study-abroad program.

August 30, 2016
Danny Gabay in Berlin

But this summer, I took my studies one step further by spending two weeks in Germany attending the Touro College Berlin Holocaust Studies Program. I knew that taking a Holocaust class in Germany would enhance my educational experience, in terms of Holocaust studies as well as my understanding of pre- and post-war European Jewish History.

These two weeks were totally unlike the standard college class. In addition to classroom lectures by renowned professors, we also attended classes held at important landmarks. We saw the location where the Wannsee Conference took place as well as the People’s Court in Berlin, and multiple memorials for the victims of World War II. Actually standing at these historical sites brought the lectures to life and helped us to more fully understand and absorb the concepts. Our professors were knowledgeable, offering insightful commentary and answering the many questions we raised about antisemitism and Jewish life in Europe throughout the 20th century.

Unlike my studies in school, we focused on all aspects of the perpetrators. We examined the roles of Jewish and German citizens during the war. It was interesting to note that in Germany, all students are required to learn about the Holocaust in depth in an effort to make sure that no one forgets the atrocities that occurred and that the mistakes of the past are never repeated. A major topic of discussion throughout the program was the sense of “Holocaust fatigue” prevalent in Germany. The strong, constant emphasis on Holocaust studies seems to have diffused the emotional impact of the Holocaust.

I would encourage everyone to participate in a study-abroad program. This specific program was designed so that we were not treated as tourists; we lived the lives of typical Berliners. We traveled to Touro on the U-Bahn (subway) and Metro (bus) daily, which gave us a taste of how residents in Berlin go about their day-to-day lives. We learned so much, met many new people, steeped ourselves in the historic past and were exposed to a new culture—all while having a great time.