Suffield Academy students enrolled in Beth Krasemann’s class entitled Holocaust, Genocide, and Human Behavior welcomed guest lecturer Professor Avinoam Patt on February 2. Avinoam J. Patt, Ph.D. is the Doris and Simon Konover Chair of Judaic Studies and Director of the Center for Judaic Studies and Contemporary Jewish Life at the University of Connecticut. With a particular interest in Jewish life in Europe during the time of the Holocaust, he provided insight into the Warsaw ghetto uprising and the power of resistance.
“It’s very common when you teach the Holocaust to just talk about the perpetrators, and that is a very important part of studying it,” he noted. “How could a modern civilization like Germany carry out and cause mass genocide? This is a lesson on the banality of evil and where it comes from. However, I believe it is equally if not more important to talk about the victims. We must remember that they were brothers and sisters, mothers and fathers. We must recognize them as innocent people who did not understand why this was happening to them. If we can understand that most clearly then we can begin to comprehend the power of resistance. Jews faced the realization that their death was imminent and unavoidable but refused to surrender themselves to knowing that they were going to die. Instead, they chose how they were going to die. That is resistance, and this is exactly what happened at Warsaw when the ghetto rose up to resist.”
Dr. Patt concluded, “When we study this as an example of resistance we must consider and respect how we know these stories. The Jews knew that if they didn’t record these events then their history would be forgotten. Because of them, they ensured that their revolt would be remembered and known.”