Understanding The Holocaust When trying to understand an event such as the Holocaust there is no substitute for first hand experience. However, because we cannot relive the Holocaust, we must attempt to gain an understanding of this tragic event through other means. In JS 211, sources such as books, movies, and even Holocaust survivors themselves, can help us learn what happened in the to those targeted by the Nazis in World War Two. Each of the many resources available to us can provide information on what the Holocaust was in terms of facts and statistics, and probably as effectively as being there could. Nevertheless, the average USC student will still be missing the human factor, what would you feel like being a Jew living under the Nazi regime. When trying to understand what was experienced by a person in a particular situation, you must be able to draw on knowledge gained though similar experiences.
Even the most skillfully written account of an event, such as the Holocaust, cannot convey the feelings of the participants if the reader has nothing against which to compare. Without having lived through an event as tragic as the Holocaust, you are left only to imagine the feelings of those who did. You would be hard pressed to find many people, anywhere in the world, who have ever experienced something with the tragic enormity of the Holocaust. Finding people who may be able to truly relate to, and understand, the tragedy experienced by Holocaust victims is hard anywhere. However, the task is even more daunting in a community such as USC. While the situation may be somewhat exaggerated by our rivals, who refer to us as The University of Spoiled Children and taunt us at games by waving car keys or credit cards, the majority of USC students have led a fairly comfortable life.
Most probably grew up in a fairly affluent family, lived in a nice neighborhood, attended good schools, etc, not exactly the kind of upbringing where one might encounter mass persecution and genocide. You could possibly say something along the lines of It’s like when your dog dies, only a thousand times worse, but that does not really capture the enormity of the situation. Probably everyone has at one time or another felt the basic emotions, such as grief or despair that were such a part of the Holocaust experience. It is the immense magnitude of the feelings that will be hard to envision for people who have never lived through an event as horrible as the Holocaust. Certainly in JS 211, we will learn much about the Holocaust: Who were the bad guys? What motivated them? How was it allowed to happen? What may be a harder, and maybe impossible task however will to put ourselves in the shoes of the Jews or any other group targeted by Nazi Germany in World War Two. It is through no fault of the authors, directors, or lecturers that this failing exist, rather it is the audience.
For most of us, being far removed from the Holocaust both socially and historically, is simply too hard to imagine what it would be like to endure such extreme suffering. Surely everyone can sympathize with the plight of Holocaust victims, however to really understand the immense magnitude of the experience without having been there personally requires a knowledge that most just do not have. History.