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Study folder

Programme of the scheduled MA studies in the academic year 2011/2012
at the Institute of European Studies, specialisation:
Knowledge about Holocaust and totalitarian systems

In the appendix:

Study folder

Study programme and curriculum approved by the Jagiellonian University Senate

Study program

Questions about the extermination of the European Jews are not essentially of historical or ethic nature. They are rather directed towards sociology, European anthropology or studies of European civilization and pose a challenge for education, pedagogy, social psychology and cultural studies. A distinct and outmost important point is the education and the process of raising awareness among the young generation of Poles about the Holocaust. Equally important is the understanding of structures and dynamics of the development of totalitarian and authoritarian states. The Holocaust as an exceptional case of genocide has both a universal and exclusive dimension. It is equally a generally human and a specifically Polish phenomenon. After all, the Holocaust mainly took place on the territory of occupied Poland and cost the lives of millions of Polish citizens. Organizing the remembrance of Umschlagplatz, ghettos, Auschwitz-Birkenau, Majdanek, Treblinka, Bełżec, Sobibor and Chełm is the responsibility of Polish state and local authorities, however, it is especially the task of universities which are training the future intellectual elites in the society.

For young Poles, who have only heard about totalitarianism and the Holocaust from stories and lectures, the planned new study program can not only be a challenge, but also a chance. Apart from the widening and deepening of historical knowledge, the participants will be sensitized to the challenges of the contemporary world. Therefore, the study curriculum contains not only lectures on historical facts and memory, but also classes aiming at reflection on the challenges of the present. Our contemporary world is still afflicted by ethnical, religious and social conflicts, even within the European Union and within Poland. The Polish nation holds a specific position as the nation of testimonies and victims of the two biggest totalitarian systems of the 20th century – the Nazi and Soviet regimes.

It was the European totalitarian systems, who had adopted the principle of physical extermination of ethnic groups within society as their political programs. Learning about the mechanism and functioning of totalitarian states will enable students to thoroughly understand the uniqueness of the Holocaust and the bloody ethnic cleansing under the Soviet totalitarianism costing the lives of millions. In the classical analysis of Hanna Arendt, the Soviet and Nazi totalitarianisms do not exist as two opposite poles – although this is how it was presented in Soviet and Nazi propaganda respectively – but coexist on the same basis of contempt for the life of the individual in the name of a crazy utopia of a racially pure or classless society of the future. “In the name of a total logical cohesion, totalitarianism aims at destroying any traces of what we usually call human dignity. Respecting human dignity would namely mean respecting neighboring states as subjects responsible on their own for the creation of a new world or jointly responsible for the common world.”

General aim and detailed goals Poland is one of 47 signatories of the Declaration of the International Stockholm Forum adopted in 2000. Point Five of the Declaration reads: “We will jointly promote the conduct of research on the Holocaust in all its aspects. We will promote the education about the Holocaust in our schools, universities and societies and we will furthermore encourage educational initiatives in other institutions in this field.” The fundamental aim of the Masters program “Knowledge of the Holocaust and Totalitarianisms” is fulfilling the demand of the Declaration while keeping up with the highest academic and educational standards. The realization of the study program increases the still insufficient contribution of academia to the creation of a memory culture of the Holocaust in times of the death of the last Holocaust survivors. The study program will promote attitudes corresponding with the idea of Theodor Adorno: the fundamental aim of education of the young generation is to ensure that Auschwitz will not happen again. In this case, acquiring knowledge will lead to a formation of an attitude, which leaves no room for anti-Semitism, racism, xenophobia and discrimination.

Furthermore, the study program aims at commemorating the great societal disasters of the 20th century, especially the extermination of the European Jews. By training future academic lecturers, teachers, museum and exhibition curators, journalists, experts of regional educations and experts working at memorial sites and in non-governmental organizations, it will contribute to the formation of a pool of experts on remembrance culture. Our didactic study offer specifically takes into account members of national and religious minorities and handicapped persons. Further aims of the study program are the development of a coherent, methodologically correct and innovative academic teaching program about the Holocaust and totalitarianisms as well as the refinement of the academic methodology of our lecturers. This will be achieved through academic exchange programs, the consolidation of the academic environment and the invitation of academics from different faculties, of different research interests and specialties, who are willing to jointly create a study curriculum and enrich the didactic offer in the field of Holocaust and totalitarianism studies. With our innovative internship program, our study program will also be interesting for specialists working outside of the university circle (f.ex. in NGO’s and state organizations), who will have the opportunity to transfer their knowledge and practical experience to both students and lecturers by conducting workshops and taking care of interns. Employees of memorial sites and museums, other historical museums, cultural institutions, local public authorities and non-governmental organizations – people, who form and shape civil society – will enrich the study offer with their expert knowledge and provide students with contacts, results of research projects and educational materials from their work at memorial sites and museums.