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“The vision for our trip this summer was to maximize cadet participation and to align it with the Holocaust course taught in the spring. We visited locales of Jewish life prior to the Holocaust, as well as museums, memorials, and sites such as Auschwitz-Birkenau, Treblinka, Lublin, Majdanek, and the Warsaw Ghetto. As part of their preparation, the cadets read Sam Halpern’s Darkness and Hope, and Doris Bergen’s War and Genocide. Cadets will take critical lessons gained from this trip into their careers as officers, informing their leadership and their knowledge of contemporary crises.
Our intentionality regarding Holocaust education at the US Air Force Academy is multifaceted. Our commitment is to teach cadets about the Holocaust and represent the voices of those who fought and perished. In addition, we are acutely aware that genocides are ongoing and that our mission is to educate future military officers. Of great importance is helping cadets understand the crucial role that militaries play in ending mass violence. Not only will they be able to recognize and prevent such atrocities, but they will also influence policy that protects democracy and human rights within the Department of Defense and with domestic and international partners.
Our trip this summer is the anchor to the History Department’s expanding Holocaust programming. Among our current opportunities is a cadet summer research program at the University of Texas’ Ackerman Center for Holocaust Studies. We also host a workshop on the Holocaust, Genocide, and Prevention of Mass Atrocities with the US Holocaust Memorial Museum and facilitate a survivor testimony for cadets taking the Holocaust course. In addition, we will be running a multidisciplinary academic conference, co-hosted with UT-Dallas. The conference, which will be held at the Academy in October 2023, is entitled ”War, the Holocaust, and Human Rights.” It will bring together thinkers, scholars, and community members from across the US, and cadets will be involved in meaningful ways. The History Department is excited to develop additional opportunities as we move forward, enabling as many cadets as possible to gain these critical lessons and tools. We are creating a community of thinkers and engaged leaders who will act decisively when faced with threats to humanity. ”