Wednesday, April 23, 2014

SAIS history club prompts campaign to preserve vestiges of Bologna's liberation

A study tour organized by inquisitive SAIS Europe students has prompted one of Italy's top magazines to question whether the city of Bologna should do more to conserve traces of the city's liberation from German forces in World War Two.
Names of Allied leaders on a wall in Bologna

Earlier this month, members of the SAIS Europe WWII History Club visited sites of events connected to the liberation of the city in 1945, re-enacting scenes from the war and drawing crowds of curious onlookers. The tour was written up in La Repubblica newspaper.

Now L'Espresso online magazine has published an article mentioning the SAIS study tour and asking whether local authorities are doing enough to protect the remaining vestiges of the war, including the names of Franklin Roosevelt, Winston Churchill and Joseph Stalin stenciled on city walls. "The outward signs of the Liberation are fading so much they are disappearing," it says.

Meanwhile, 21 members of the Club continued probing the past with a visit to Munich over Easter weekend to study the rise of National Socialism. Club chief John Dellinger recounts the trip below.

Student Wenxin Lin role-playing
a tourist guide at the
"Degenerate Art" exhibit ...
Our train from Bologna arrived in Munich on Saturday afternoon, and less than an hour later the walking tour had already begun. For the next five hours, we were taken back in time through a series of presentations covering life and politics during the Third Reich.

At the site where Munich’s main synagogue once stood, a student delivered a moving presentation from the perspective of a Jewish girl affected by the events of Kristallnacht. In a nearby music school classroom that was once Hitler’s office, another group re-enacted the signing of the Munich Agreement at the exact spot where it took place in 1938.
... that was held at this site in 1937.

The next day, we visited the former Nazi party rally grounds in Nuremberg. One student evoked the euphoria of the era by recounting it from the perspective of a German youth who participated in the rallies. Later that day in a nearby courtroom the group was transported back in time to postwar Germany when another student read aloud excerpts from the prosecutor’s opening statement at the Nuremberg Trials.

The weekend concluded with an early morning guided visit to Dachau. By early afternoon we were on our way back to Bologna, worn out but enriched by the chance to study history in a truly unique way.

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