Sunday, August 12, 2012


Super smart MWW participants team up to define forgiveness, take a look....

Forgiveness is moving on and accepting what happened while letting go of the hope that the past can ever be changed.  - Group 1

Forgiveness- A personal choice one makes.  A personal gift you give, if, and when, you are ready.  -Group 2

Forgiveness is the ability to let the harm go and mutually accept the circumstances and MOVE ON!  -Group 3

Forgiveness:  To accept someone’s regrets, or a personal release of the negative energy caused by anothers actions.  - Group 4

The "Nazi Hunter"

To those who have frequented the depths of discussion on the Holocaust, the name, Simon Wiesenthal tends to come up.  Prior to meeting with a group upholding and continuing his accomplishments in Vienna, I was among these people. I knew his name, I had read his book “ The Sunflower”, but other than that, I had little knowledge he was so significant. 

He was a Jewish Holocaust survivor.  In Simon’s case, he was met with the question of forgiveness, upon a chance meeting with a dying Nazi soldier.  He contemplated the question of whether he should have forgiven the Nazi of his deeds. This encounter formed the basis of his book “the Sunflower”  and I would contend to say that it gave him inspiration for his future life’s work. 

He was called the Nazi Hunter; It was not a term he coined himself.  In practicality, Simon Wiesenthal chased those who had committed heinous crimes against humanity by following paper trails and records.  He sought to bring those who had promoted the Holocaust to court.  His efforts have brought many Nazis to light.  As I stood in  his cramped office in Vienna listening to the workers who continued his work, I was astonished how much this one man had done.  Lining the wall were row on top of row of boxes covered in untouched dust, each filled to the top with details on criminal’s lives.  The entire history of a select few perpetrators were before me.  It was eerie to say the least, but awe inspiring as well.  Wiesenthal had managed to gather enough evidence to incriminate the horror makers of the Holocaust.

I am inspired by Wiesenthal.  Others may be grateful, some indifferent, but I felt his work will have lasting impact.  By bringing perpetrators to light, he has struck a cord of awareness.  The more people realize, accept, and understand the realities of the Holocaust and the capabilities of driven human beings, the closer we come to not repeating history.  Wiesenthal’s work was in simple terms, done to open eyes. 

-Danny Blaugher, MWW Student Participant

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Celebrate Good Times

Austria, first victims??

What has surprised me about Austria’s role in WWII was how excited many Austrians were to have the Nazi party, and more specifically Hitler take control of their nation.  I have always thought that Austria was taken by force, and they were unhappy during Hitler’s regime.  The way I understand it, is that many Austrian people were looking for a leader that would improve their post WWI situation, and wanted the Nazi party to take control.  These people were not Hitler’s first victims, they were willing participants. Mob mentality drove some to unspeakable acts against the Jewish people.  Most were so ashamed that when the war was over, they eagerly accepted the title of “Hitler’s First Victim”. 

Aleesha Paddleford, MWW Participant

Sunday, July 22, 2012

The Voice of Conscience

Beautiful Souls: Saying No, Breaking Ranks, and Heeding the Voice of Conscience in Dark Times

Beautiful Souls is a book from Eyal Press which examines, through true stories, what makes a person stand up to evil. 

The author discusses the power of an “inner directed” personality.  An individual with an inner directed personality, doesn’t care or worry what his peers or fellow critics think of him, he only needs to be true to himself.  Because these individuals do not need the community to feel fulfilled, they are able to stand up against their community.  The author examines individuals who stood up and said “No”, from WWII, the Serb -Croatian War, the Palestinian Israeli conflict, and a whistle blowing financial advisor from a business gone corrupt. 

Even though these individuals stood up for what was right, they end up ostracized from their communities.  Each was asked if they could would they do it again given what they had lost as a result.  Each said they would absolutely do it again, because it was the right thing to do. 

Did Hitler set out to be a world leader?  What were his beginnings? 

Hitler wanted to be an artist, but when he applied to art school in Vienna, he was not accepted.  He moved to Munich to be part of the artistic community.  He joined the Thule political party, where he was accepted only because the leaders thought they would use him as a tool and a spy for other organizations.  The leaders of the Thule party asked Hitler to infiltrate the Workers Party, (Communists) as they felt that the Workers Party was a threat to their group  Hitler reported back that the Workers Party held similar anti-semitic beliefs as the Thule Party, and were not a threat.  The Thule party guided Hitler to become the leader of the Workers Party, teaching him how to speak, how to lead, how to use people and propaganda, and how to deliver a message.  In short, how to be the Hitler we all remember.

I don’t believe Hitler or the Nazis set out to rule the world in the beginning.  First he wanted to be a voice and a leader for his party, then for the country.  As his hatred grew and his popularity rose, he thought he would give his people more and more of what they wanted-  more land, annex Czechoslovakia and Austria, and fewer Jews in Germany.

Each step of the way was a chance for the Germans and the world to stand up and say NO.  Each step Hitler took successfully without the people or the world saying “No this is not OK”, gave Hitler more and more power and confidence to do more, take more, and become more evil. 

Julie Blaugher, MWW Participant

The Power of Oral History

MWW Student Participant Ashley Davis explains how a Holocaust Survivor's story makes it all seem real. 

Saturday, July 14, 2012

What Happened in Building X

We toured the Dachau Concentration Camp which was the first concentration camp in the large system of concentration and extermination camps Hitler and the Nazis set up.  It had originally been a munitions storage facility.

We followed the steps of the former prisoners- walked through the gate, stopped where they turned in all of their possessions, including clothes, and got the hair all over their body crudely and cruelly shaved.

We saw where the prisoners “lived”. We stood where the prisoners stood in roll call twice daily.  We learned the type of work detail, and abuse the prisoners were subjected to, and the watery soup they were given to eat.  We saw the cramped barracks and imagined the cold, heat, and discomfort of so many hurt and hungry prisoners.

Dachau was not a extermination camp however, late in the Nazi regime Building X was built.  Building X was so named to disguise the horror that it housed - the systematic killing and burning of small groups and individuals.   We walked through the entire building, following the condemned prisoners  steps.  First into the room to remove clothes, then the room where the clothes were disinfected, then into the room prior to the crematorium. I imagined the prisoners in that room - cold, scared, angry.  As I looked into the next room The Gas Chamber, I will never forget my feeling of dread.  I stepped a little closer so I could peer into the sparkling white room.  As I did, I felt a great wall of energy from the ceiling to the floor and on either side of me, warning me not to go any further.  Frightened, I quickly backed away from the door leading to the chamber and escaped outside.  I was amazed at the experience, and the force of the invisible energy.

I have never felt anything like that energy force before.  I will always remember Dachau and it’s victims. 

- Julie Blaugher, MWW Participant