United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Visit
The West Point Department of History faculty from the West Point Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies and faculty from the Department of Law accompanied forty-two cadets to Washington, D.C. for a two-day program on "Law, the Holocaust, and War Crimes" at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. Cadets spent a full day exploring the Museum's permanent exhibit, followed by workshops led by distinguished Museum scholars and legal experts that examined the role of law and institutions in enabling Nazi Germany to commit genocide. An expert on the law of war offered a practical workshop titled "What would you do, Lieutenant?" The visit culminated with a presentation by and discussion with Holocaust survivor Marty Weiss, who shared his gripping stories of persecution, loss, and survival at Auschwitz.
The visit inspired powerful self-reflection among the cadets. “Early detection of potential atrocities is crucial,” one cadet wrote. “As military officers, we will be among the first responders.” Another noted that “as a future officer, I understand that loyalty is not the same as honor. To this end, I must place my obligations as a professional and human being to supersede social norms and peer pressure. I will not go along to get along!” A third concluded that “this trip should be mandatory for all cadets. This trip section helped me learn essential evils and goodness of humanity. More importantly, the structure of the program has enabled the most worthwhile self-reflection I have done…This reflection has helped me bolster my commitment to stamping out evil acts where I see them because my eyes have been opened to the horrific depths of a failure to act.”