(JTA) — A group of cadets and midshipmen from U.S. military academies are cleaning up a Jewish cemetery near Auschwitz as part of a Holocaust education initiative.
The 14 students from the Army, Air Force, Navy and Coast Guard cleared weeds and brush this week in the Jewish cemetery in Oswiecim, the town outside of which Auschwitz was built, as part of the American Service Academies Program. The two-week educational initiative, which was founded in 2004, focuses on the Holocaust and related contemporary moral and ethical dilemmas.
It is operated by the Auschwitz Jewish Center, a Jewish museum and study center in Oswiecim that is a branch of the Museum of Jewish Heritage-A Living Memorial to the Holocaust in New York City.
The program aims to educate future American military leaders about the past, but also to “stimulate dialogue about its relationship to the present and the future.” Participants tour sites of Jewish heritage, visit museums and memorials, meet with a Polish Righteous Among the Nations, hear lectures on Holocaust history and visit the sites of Nazi death camps.
Before leaving the United States, participants attended sessions organized by the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington and the Museum of Jewish Heritage.