A UC Riverside graduate student is among ten researchers chosen to take part in a fellowship program that will examine life at Auschwitz, where an estimated 1 million Jews and other prisoners were exterminated, campus officials said.
Jennifer West, a doctoral candidate in history, will be leaving June 29 with colleagues from the Auschwitz Jewish Center Fellows Program for a three- week trip to Krakow, Oswiecim and Lodz, Poland.
The Victorville woman was chosen by the Auschwitz Jewish Center Foundation to study the Jewish heritage of southeast Poland and what happened to the Jewish population there following the establishment of the Nazis’ largest concentration camp in 1940.
“To strip away the mythological aura of Auschwitz is to look industrialized mass murder in the face and see ourselves — a very disconcerting situation indeed,” West said.
“However, without this bare honesty, the attempts made to memorialize, analyze and educate about the events and people of the Holocaust are seriously undermined by distortion, and this tragic past is easily reduced to a commodity which can be bought and sold with relative impunity,” she said.
West and the other fellows will be examining records at the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum, as well as touring the main camp and satellite camps, collecting information about the history of Jewish, Roma and Polish victims, according to UCR.
They will also be working to identify the remnants of the area’s Jewish community.