Hillel Explores Germany Over Spring Break

Hillels from Clark and University of Vermont took an alternative spring break trip to Germany. The groups went through an initiative by the German Government called Germany Upclose. It brings Jewish Americans to the country to learn about German culture and history pre- and post-Holocaust. “This program gives students a chance to explore how they relate to Germany both in terms of memory and association to the Holocaust, but also allows them to see what modern Germany is like and establish new feelings to associate to Germany,” said Israel Outreach Coordinator, Hilary Kern.


The trip was conducted through a “Jewish lens.” Many of the students who attended the trip had family who were either murdered or had to leave Germany during the Holocaust.  While in Berlin, they took a walking tour in which they went to an art project installation called Stumbling Stones. The installment is made up of bricks that line the sidewalk with the name of Holocaust victims who were evacuated from their homes.


The group spent the majority of their time in Berlin, but did take an overnight trip to Weimar. While in Weimar, they visited Buchenwald, a concentration camp. Most of the buildings had been taken down, but the crematorium is still in place. “You walked into the gate and there was basically empty land…Then I saw a picture of lines and lines of inmates standing exactly where I was standing…it was incredible and definitely hit hard,” said Rachel Gaufberg (‘17).


Hillel hopes to return to Germany in the future. It helped change the perception of the country for the students who went on the  the trip. “I met so many incredible people. And you realize that it’s just like any other country. It’s really cultural and interesting and has so much to offer,” said Gaufberg.