The Holocaust: Hate, Guilt, Reconciliation

SC 101 – The Holocaust: Hate, Guilt, Reconciliation

“I really don’t understand it.  It’s not as if Germany was a Third World Country….” — Sara Rosnow (a survivor from eastern Poland who survived by escaping from the Dworetz Concentration Camp to live in the forest for two years with partisans)

“The Holocaust cannot be thought because it cannot be exhausted by historical narration.  It remains elusive, uncontained, a putative mystery because the categories by which such immensities are grasped seem inadequate and trivial.”  — Arthur Cohen in The Tremendum

The two poignant introductory quotes above illustrate the difficulties in our ability to understand an event that exterminated millions and millions of people, including Jews, European Gypsies, homosexual men, Afro-Germans, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Communists, political and religious opponents, prisoners of war, Soviet and Polish Gentiles, Slavic people, and other people considered undesirable or subhuman by the “new European order.”  In this course, students will attempt to document and analyze the event and what it represents by viewing the Holocaust from several unique angles.  Our view will be derived from survivor and perpetrator testimony, as well as bystander testimony, through the use of documentary, film, readings, lectures, class discussions, class participation, guest speakers, individual presentations, and the required textbook.

The event known today as the Holocaust caused Raphael Lemkin to create a new word describing the “killing of peoples” in 1944 — genocide.   One cannot study World War II and come away with the conclusion that the extermination of the Jews is a simple footnote to history.  Rather, historical thought suggests that the very reason for the War is directly coupled to Adolf Hitler’s plans for new living space to the East for the German people, the extension of borders for the Third Reich, and the desire to kill Jews, Gypsies, as well as other “inferiors”.

In this course, we will begin by examining the history of Antisemitism, the rise of racism, the rise of the German National Socialist Party (Nationalsozialismus) and the intensification of hatred as a political tool.

While exploring the reasons for the initiation of the “Final Solution,” we will examine the stories of individuals who were caught up in the Holocaust. In particular, we will closely follow the story of Sara Rosnow, which has been preserved by the USC Shoah Foundation Institute for Visual History that Steven Spielberg founded in 1994.  Sara’s story is one of the 52,000 interviews preserved for history at the Shoah Foundation Institute for Visual History.

In our subsequent study of the repercussions of the Holocaust, we will examine the various levels of guilt complicity experienced in Germany and other countries (including the United States) by survivors and perpetrators as well as their offspring.

Finally, we will consider some of the ways in which the Holocaust is remembered.  We will study the different types of memorials that have been created throughout the world in an effort to commemorate these events.


Meet Your Professor

Bruce Brown, M.M.

Assistant Professor of Music – Voice

Assistant Professor Bruce Brown joined the Simpson College Voice Faculty in the fall of 2003 following a professional opera singing career in the United States and Europe.  He lived and sang in Vienna, Austria from 1992 – 2003 where he appeared in over 600 performances as baritone soloist on the stages of the Vienna opera houses.  He was a full time member of the Vienna Volksoper soloist ensemble and appeared many times as a guest artist in the title role of Don Giovanni and Count Almaviva in Le Nozze di Figaro with the Vienna Kammeroper’s open air summer Mozart in Schönbrunn Festival in the Roman Ruins of the Schönbrunn Palace.  His roles with the Volksoper included Don Giovanni, Count Almaviva, Valentin, Silvio, Ford, Danilo, Graf Homonay, Dottore Malatesta, Belcore, Schaunard, Marcello, Zar, John Sorel, among many others.

He has performed in the United States with Houston Grand Opera, Des Moines Metro Opera, Knoxville Opera, Sacramento Opera, Eugene Opera, Mississippi Opera, Chautauqua Opera, Opera Festival of New Jersey, Glimmerglass Opera, and Festival Opera of Walnut Creek, among others.

He was a member of the Houston Opera Studio and spent several years early in his career touring with Texas Opera Theater, Opera Iowa, and Opera Northeast.  Opera roles performed in the United States have included Danilo, Dandini, Papageno, Schaunard, Marcello, Don Giovanni, Dottore Malatesta, Escamillo, Belcore, Silvio, Maximilian, Achilla,  Sharpless, Valentin, and many others.

He recorded the role of Caliph in the opera The Caliph by Anthony Louis Scarmolin for a Centaur Records 2001 release.  Audio samples and a downloadable version of the recording are available here, or the CD version is available here.

Since joining the Simpson Music Faculty, Mr. Brown has also been active as stage director.  The productions at Simpson he has directed to date include Il Campanello, The Marriage of Figaro, The Mikado, The Magic Flute, Die Fledermaus, Cosi fan tutte, Suor Angleica, and Curlew River as well as co-teaching the Opera Workshop Class.  He was chosen to receive the 2012 Outstanding Alumnus Award by the Stephen F. Austin State University School of Music.

As a voice teacher and a stage director, he is committed to developing the next generation of singing-actors for the opera stage.  Students of Mr. Brown do well in NATS, MTNA, Schubert Club Scholarship Auditions, opera apprentice programs, graduate schools, and on the professional stage.  Students of his have gone on to appear at Knoxville Opera, Glimmerglass Opera, Des Moines Metro Opera, Seattle Opera, Central City Opera, Sarasota Opera, Sante Fe Opera, and Wolf Trap Opera, among others.

In his free time from music, he races mountain bikes throughout the Midwest.  Races he participates in include those of the Iowa Mountain Bike Championship Series, Nebraska Psycowpath Series, Minnesota Mountain Bike Series, Wisconsin Off Road Series and a few other special events.  He is an active member of National Association of Teachers of Singing, Music Teachers National Association, and Central Iowa Trails Association.

He resides in Indianola with his wife Tara Starr and their two children, Zack and Alexa.


Meet Your SC Leadervan-brogen

My name is Meghan Van Brogen and I will be your SC Leader for Professor Bruce Brown’s Simpson Colloquium class. I will be a junior in the 2017-2018 school year.

I am from Newton, Iowa which is about an hour northeast of Simpson. I graduated from Southeast Polk High School in 2015 where I was a varsity swimmer for three years. A little about me: I love The Office, hanging out with friends, and most importantly napping. I also enjoy reading, watching crime shows, and I love the Hawkeyes.

I am majoring in Public Relations with a minor in Business Management. After graduation I plan to either work as a company’s PR manager, or own my own event planning business. I was apart of the Simpson swim team my freshman year. I am a member of Simpson’s PRSSA chapter, which works with communications majors. This upcoming May I will be traveling to London for May Term, while I’m there I hope to travel to Ireland and Amsterdam.

I am very excited to be your SC Leader and help you with the transition into college. I hope to help you come to love Simpson as much as I do. I can’t wait to meet you this Summer at registration.


Meet Your Writing Fellow

Coming soon!