Auschwitz Jewish Center Foundation
Auschwitz Jewish Center Foundation program - American Service Academies Program
Funded by the Class of 1964
The Auschwitz Jewish Center, a Polish-based organization committed to the study of the Holocaust and the life that preceded it, along with the Museum of Jewish Heritage in New York, works with each of the U.S. Service Academies to bring outstanding midshipmen and cadets to Poland each summer. The chosen four to five Academy representatives spend three weeks meeting with scholars, high-level government officials, students from Eastern Europe, and citizens of Poland. They also engage in intensive workshops designed to educate and immerse them in Polish culture, both before and after WWII.
The purpose of the Service Academy Program is to display in vivid terms what can happen in the absence of free, open, and democratic governing institutions. Through learning in detail about the Holocaust and events leading up to it, the Academy representatives understand what can happen when evil is given free reign, when democratic ideals are not defended, and when ordinary citizens choose compliance over action. Highlights include: trips to Warsaw, Krakow, Auschwitz, and Galicia; private receptions at various embassies; meetings with Polish and U.S. military personnel; lectures from leading scholars and Holocaust survivors about the rise of the Third Reich and the world's response to the Holocaust; and in-depth discussions of current events in the light of these historical events. The trip gives Academy representatives a chance to interact not only with cadets from USMA and USAFA, but with students from Eastern Europe, who are hungry for contacts with young people in the United States.
Past participants report that the trip is a life changing experience. Many of them maintain contact with friends they make on the trip. Midshipmen have also used what they learn by sharing their experiences with other midshipmen in various settings and acting as guides for Plebe Summer trips to the American Museum of the Holocaust in Washington D.C. These trips are sponsored annually by the Levy Center.