The Holocaust was undoubtedly one of the darkest times in world history, during which six million Jews were murdered at the hands of the Adolph Hitler and Nazi Germany from 1939-1945. While much has been studied about the history surrounding this terrible time, the specifics and emotions evoked from the period often escape the view of academia.
Dr. David Murphy, a professor in the Department of History and Political Science at Anderson University, has been teaching about the Jewish Holocaust for nearly a decade. Murphy explores elements not traditionally studied about the time period. “In the 1990s, there was a great surge of interest in classes about many aspects of the Holocaust, versus just studying the historical literature about it,” said Dr. Murphy. He thought it would be good to build a course on the topic because it produced questions for Christians and the Christian faith.
The Jewish Holocaust class utilizes a book entitled Ordinary Men by author Christopher Browning, which attempts to understand the minds of those seemingly ordinary people who perpetuated the killing of Jewish people. The book also calls attention to a specific German police unit that committed other heinous acts. “A big question students ask themselves in the class is how the Nazis, who called themselves Christians, justified committing the horrible things they did to people,” said Dr. Murphy. “It makes people wonder how this justification might happen today in our lives.”
Dr. Murphy said that what students learn from the course varies. Sophomore Ryan Daugherty agreed with this, saying that after he got the chance to see both Nazi and Jewish perception of the Holocaust, he understood a side of the history he never saw before. “I enjoyed that I was able to learn the actual mechanisms of the Holocaust. It puts a lot of perspective on the situation,” said Daugherty.
Senior Gina Farmer took Dr. Murphy’s Jewish Holocaust Class last summer and said the best part of the class was experiencing Dr. Murphy’s plethora of knowledge on the subject. “Dr. Murphy is an amazing resource. He’s been to Germany and talked to Holocaust survivors, so when he applies the experiences he’s had that you don’t find in textbooks, it’s enlightening to be a part of,” said Farmer.
Murphy’s Jewish Holocaust class is just one example of an in-depth, non-traditional learning experience that Anderson University offers to its student body, and students respond to this style of teaching as it is one of the first to fill up each time it’s offered. Students who take Murphy’s class quickly learn that it’s about more than fulfilling a liberal arts requirement; it’s about seeing history in a whole new light.
— Cameron Ward is a senior from Kalamazoo, Mich., majoring in communication arts. Ward is an associate with Fifth Street Communications™, writing on behalf of Anderson University Office of University Communications.
Anderson University is a private Christian university of 2,700 undergraduate and graduate students in central Indiana. Anderson continues to be recognized as a top Christian college: in 2009, U.S. News and World Report ranked Anderson University among the best colleges and universities in the Midwest for the sixth consecutive year. Established in 1917 by the Church of God, Anderson University offers more than 65 undergraduate majors and graduate programs in business, education, music, nursing and theology.