How does one become qualified to teach Holocaust studies at one of the many Holocaust Museums in America? This newspaper article describes how one man, Patrick LeBlanc, took a trip to Washington, DC, Israel and Europe to learn how to teach the Holocaust.
This quote is from the article:
Patrick LeBlanc is still processing what he saw and heard last summer when he was sent to Washington, D.C., Israel and Europe to enhance his ability to teach about the Holocaust.
The Clear Lake resident made the journey with the support of Holocaust Museum Houston’s new Lea Krell Weems Fellowship.
“It was a very intense trip,” said LeBlanc, a volunteer docent and teacher at the museum. “But it was good; it was a very enlightening trip.”
LeBlanc, 43, was among educators from around the country who participated in the Holocaust and Jewish Resistance Teachers’ Program this year. The three-week experience is primarily for U.S. secondary school teachers. It was created to deepen teachers’ knowledge and strengthen their ability to implement Holocaust studies.
The Holocaust & Jewish Resistance Teachers’ Program’s summer trip started this year at the national Holocaust museum in Washington, D.C.
LeBlanc and the other teachers in the group toured the facility and attended a workshop on how to use artifacts to better convey information. They also heard from Holocaust survivors. [...]
….the group went to Germany, where it visited the Bergen-Belsen, Sachsenhausen and Ravensbrueck concentration camps, along with the Jewish Museum Berlin and the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe.
For LeBlanc, one of the most affecting sites was a villa outside of Berlin, where Hitler’s cabinet members had met.
“They had already decided on the ‘Final Solution’” LeBlanc said.
“To be at this villa, which is gorgeous, gorgeous villa, and imagine these men sipping brandy and smoking cigars while they planned the murder of an entire people was kind of surreal.”
LeBlanc is right — the Wannsee villa is gorgeous. I visited the villa several years ago and took the photo below.
But is LeBlanc correct in saying that “They had already decided on The Final Solution”? (In the official version of the Holocaust, the term Final Solution is defined as the genocide of the Jews.) When was the genocide of the Jews decided upon and by whom?
At the Nuremberg IMT, Hermann Goering testified that the title of the Conference was “The Total Solution to the Jewish Question in Europe.” The “Jewish Question” was whether the Jews should assimilate into the country where they lived, or whether they should have their own state-within-a-state. Hitler wanted the Jews to have their own state. Read more about the Wannsee Conference here.
The full text of the minutes of the Wannsee Conference can be read online here.
This quote is from the minutes, as published online:
Another possible solution of the problem has now taken the place of emigration, i.e. the evacuation of the Jews to the East, provided that the Führer gives the appropriate approval in advance.
Under proper guidance, in the course of the final solution the Jews are to be allocated for appropriate labor in the East. Able-bodied Jews, separated according to sex, will be taken in large work columns to these areas for work on roads, in the course of which action doubtless a large portion will be eliminated by natural causes.
The possible final remnant will, since it will undoubtedly consist of the most resistant portion, have to be treated accordingly, because it is the product of natural selection and would, if released, act as a the seed of a new Jewish revival (see the experience of history.)
In the course of the practical execution of the final solution, Europe will be combed through from west to east. Germany proper, including the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia, will have to be handled first due to the housing problem and additional social and political necessities.
The evacuated Jews will first be sent, group by group, to so-called transit ghettos, from which they will be transported to the East.
SS-Obergruppenführer Heydrich went on to say that an important prerequisite for the evacuation as such is the exact definition of the persons involved.
It is not intended to evacuate Jews over 65 years old, but to send them to an old-age ghetto – Theresienstadt is being considered for this purpose.
In addition to these age groups – of the approximately 280,000 Jews in Germany proper and Austria on 31 October 1941, approximately 30% are over 65 years old – severely wounded veterans and Jews with war decorations (Iron Cross I) will be accepted in the old-age ghettos. With this expedient solution, in one fell swoop many interventions will be prevented.
So what the men at the Wannsee Conference discussed was ghettos and transit camps and ultimately, evacuation to the East. That is exactly what actually happened: Jews were put into Ghettos, then sent to Transit camps, from which they were evacuated to the East.
Note that there was no discussion, during the Conference, about “gas chambers” or “death camps.” So it seems that there was no discussion of the genocide of the Jews at the Wannsee Conference.
You can read about the Museum in the Wannsee villa on my website here.