BHSU students and faculty members will be in Europe this week as part of the course “Nazi Germany and the Holocaust: History, Memory, and Legacy.” The group will explore Germany, Poland, and the Czech Republic for an international learning experience during Spring Break and will present a public presentation of their experience on April 12, Holocaust Remembrance Day.
Dr. Adam Blackler, assistant professor of history at Black Hills State University, says the trip has been supplemented by a semester of in-class preparation. To ready his students for the significance of the places they will be visiting, Blackler dug into the material he has studied intensely for years as a historical scholar. He delivered seven lectures to the students to give their destination historical and present-day context. Blackler hopes to communicate the role that Germany, Poland, and the Czech Republic played in the world wars, as well as the progress they have made since then.
“We are studying the history, the dangerous potentials of the eighteenth and nineteenth century that made it possible for something like the Nazis to not only come into existence, but ultimately obtain power in Germany, looking at the societal and national forces in and outside of Germany that made something like it possible,” Blackler explained. “That’s one of the main reasons I wanted to lead this class—to give a larger historical understanding of this history in effort to combat some of the really negative things we are seeing in the world today.”
The trip will be led by Blackler and Dr. Jason Daniels, assistant professor of history at BHSU. Student travelers include Haley Clark, Catherine Deweerd, Dalton Erskin, Elizabeth Foss, Madison Jilek, Kaitlyn Johnson, Jared Kovall-Scarlett, Krystina Ladonski, Kelsey Loftus, Sidney May, Taylor Mowery, Tanner Newson, Sarah Schaeffer, and Jordan Schmidt.
Tanner Newson, a junior from Lakewood, Colo., has enjoyed diving into the material and applying it to his psychology major. “I feel like exposing myself to the places we are going to visit can help me understand the events of the Holocaust specifically,” Newson said. “It will be enlightening and depressing, but I think it will be a worthy venture.”
Dr. Amy Fuqua, dean of the College of Liberal Arts, says that trips like these help BHSU become a more globally-connected campus. Even more, she anticipates the impact this experience will have on the students. “We know all kinds of people exist in the world, but you don’t know
it until you’re standing in a crowd where you don’t understand what people are saying. That’s humbling. Your perception is awakened, and I think that’s the greatest prerequisite to learning—having your perceptions awakened and being in a sense of humbleness.”
Blackler says his first international trip ultimately led him to where he is today. “I went on a similar trip as a junior in college and it had a direct impact on my life. I was born and raised in Montana never thought I’d get a chance to go to Europe. All of the sudden this experience presented itself. It changed my life.”
Fuqua added, “I just hope young people travel as much as they can before they own too many things or are beholden unto too many people. When you can still fit most of your belongings into four or five duffel bags, it is absolutely the time to travel.”
Students enrolled in “Nazi Germany and the Holocaust: History, Memory, and Legacy” course at BHSU include:
Haley Clark, history major from Elk Mountain, Wyo.
Catherine De Weerd, human services and psychology major from Orange City, Iowa
Dalton Erskin, history education major from Spearfish
Elizabeth Foss, history major from Broken Bow, Neb.
Madison Jilek, physical science and chemistry major from Spearfish
Kaitlyn Johnson, biology major from Spearfish
Jared Kovall-Scarlett, business administration-management major from Rapid City
Krystina Ladonski, mass communication major from Lombard, Ill.
Kelsey Loftus, history education major from Sturgis
Sidney May, social science major from Spearfish
Taylor Mowery, political science and social science major from Gillette, Wyo.
Tanner Newson, psychology major from Lakewood, Colo.
Sarah Schaeffer, communication and English education major from Spearfish
Jordan Schmidt, mass communication major from Whitewood