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Collaboration Allows Students to Explore Artifacts of War Crimes Trial

Painting created by artist Edward Eichel during the Eichmann trial. Taken from the "Eichel Collection of Courtroom Drawings" courtesy of the Dallas Holocaust Museum.

This is a painting created by artist Edward Eichel during the trial of Adolf Eichmann. It is from the "Eichel Collection of Courtroom Drawings," courtesy of the Dallas Holocaust Museum/Center for Education and Tolerance.

In the summer of 1960 — more than 15 years after the atrocities of the Holocaust had transpired — Nazi war criminal Adolf Eichmann was found hiding thousands of miles from his native Germany. The former SS officer was immediately taken to Israel to answer for his crimes.

During the Holocaust, Eichmann had been tasked with coordinating and managing the deportation of millions of European Jews to concentration camps across Nazi-occupied territory. After the fall of Nazi Germany in 1945, Eichmann fled to Austria and then Argentina, where he hid for a decade.

His subsequent trial in 1961 was an international sensation. Ashley Ward, a humanities graduate student studying in the Ackerman Center for Holocaust Studies at UT Dallas, said this was, in part, because the Eichmann trial was one of the first to be completely televised and broadcast all over the world.

For the past four months, Ward has been interning at the Dallas Holocaust Museum/Center for Education and Tolerance as part of a larger, formal partnership established between the center and the museum in 2016, when the institutions signed a memorandum of understanding as a way to foster new collaborations.

“We are very excited about this new partnership,” said Dr. Nils Roemer, director of the Ackerman Center and the Stan and Barbara Rabin Professor in Holocaust Studies. “It offers new learning opportunities for our students. They will gain valuable experiences from working at the museum, which will make them more competitive on the job market.”

Dr. Nils Roemer

We are very excited about this new partnership. It offers new learning opportunities for our students. They will gain valuable experiences from working at the museum, which will make them more competitive on the job market.

Dr. Nils Roemer, director
of the Ackerman Center
and the Stan and Barbara Rabin Professor in Holocaust Studies at UT Dallas

Ward worked under the direction of museum archivist Felicia Williamson to catalog all of the artifacts in the Eichmann collections, including an array of international wire service photos taken during the lead up and throughout the course of the trial.

“This new partnership has opened great opportunities for collaboration with the Ackerman Center,” said Mary Pat Higgins, president and CEO of the museum. “It was wonderful to have Ashley here helping to process this significant collection.”

The center and the museum have also received funding from the Texas Holocaust and Genocide Commission to support a public symposium on the Eichmann trial, scheduled for fall.

This semester, holocaust studies professor Dr. David Patterson is teaching a graduate-level course on Eichmann as a counterpart to the archival work being conducted.

Patterson said students in the course are examining the life and death of Eichmann to better understand the Holocaust, encouraging them to use the collection of artifacts and archives at the museum.

“The purpose of examining this topic is not simply to gather information or to arrive at some explanation,” Patterson said. “The goal, rather, is to address the questions of good and evil, of truth and responsibility that arise from this event, so that we may better understand its singular significance for human life. Those questions converge in the case of Eichmann.”

Ward, who began interning at the museum last fall, cataloged all of the artifacts in the Eichmann collections, which include courtroom drawings and a painting made by artist Edward Eichel.

After his capture by Israeli Security Service agents, Eichmann stood trial on 15 criminal charges. Ward said that what she found interesting was Eichmann’s lack of a sense of guilt during the trial.

"You want to think of someone capable of killing millions of people as a monster, but it's even scarier when that person seems like a normal human being like me or you,” she said. “I think that is what's scary — that humans have the capacity for that evil."

 

Upcoming Ackerman Center Events

March

“Jewish Refugees and Homelessness after the Holocaust” with Dr. Nils Roemer — 2 p.m., March 5, Jonsson Performance Hall

“Disputed Ownership: Reclaiming Stolen Property” with Richard Wolffe and Melanie Murphy Kuhr — 4 p.m., March 12, Davidson Auditorium

“The Worlds We Have Lost: The Holocaust Catastrophe Beyond Numbers” with Dr. Robert H. Abzug — 7 p.m., March 23, Davidson Auditorium

April

“Latin American Jewish Experience” with Eli Davidsohn and Debra Polsky — 2 p.m., April 9, Davidson Auditorium

Holocaust Remembrance Day Poetry Reading — 11 a.m., April 24, ATEC Building

UPCOMING EVENTS

March

“Jewish Refugees and Homelessness after the Holocaust” with Dr. Nils Roemer — 2 p.m., March 5, Jonsson Performance Hall

“Disputed Ownership: Reclaiming Stolen Property” with Richard Wolffe and Melanie Murphy Kuhr — 4 p.m., March 12, Davidson Auditorium

“The Worlds We Have Lost: The Holocaust Catastrophe Beyond Numbers” with Dr. Robert H. Abzug — 7 p.m., March 23, Davidson Auditorium

April

“Latin American Jews” with Eli Davidsohn and Debra Polsky — 2 p.m., April 9, JO 4.614

Holocaust Remembrance Day Poetry Reading — 11 a.m., April 24, ATEC Building

 

Media Contact: The Office of Media Relations, UT Dallas, (972) 883-2155, [email protected].

Tagged: A&H research