The Holocaust, the destruction of six million Jews and five million other (Roma and Sinti [Gypsies], homosexuals, physically and mentally disabled, and Poles) from 1933 to 1945, in a very real sense cannot be taught. It transcends all rational categories and plummets you into the abyss of chaos to witness the unleashing of nihilism upon a humanly disposable society. The Holocaust cannot be taught because it cannot even be imagined.
At the same time, the Holocaust must be taught. The Holocaust teaches, as no other epoch, the dynamics of hate and compassion. It links the student to other peoples and places where the dominant way to deal with difference was, and is, exclusion. These lessons of exclusion call out daily in our common existence, yet the Holocaust stand uniquely in history, and as such, demands a particular response.
The Elmhurst College Holocaust Education Project - international, interfaith, and interdisciplinary in nature - exist to teach what cannot be taught. The project is committed to teach the Holocaust as a mirror of human experience in extremity, to reflect future attitudes, to foster the development of human values, to encourage respect for difference, to build civic responsibility, and to affirm interdependence of the human family.
Elmhurst College, where teaching is central, is committed in helping to implement the Illinois legislation requiring that a unit on Holocaust be taught in all elementary and secondary schools. Elmhurst College is a leader in Du Page County and the western suburbs of Chicago in this effort.
The Elmhurst faculty's interests in the Project include study of the altruistic personality, the ethics of experimentation, the singing and teaching of contempt and compassion, the literature of extremity, the vocation of the professions, the dynamics of leadership, Christian theology after the Holocaust, and the role of morality in decision making.
The Elmhurst College Holocaust Education Guestship, begun in 1991, expresses through a dialogue model of learning the College's commitment to build a diverse and caring community of learners that focuses on the development of human values and responsible citizenship. Central to this model are its international, interdisciplinary, and interfaith components in the study of the Holocaust. It affords the opportunity for a scholar to be among the College community and for our community to become acquainted with the humanity and the knowledge of a scholar. Past Guestship holders include Dr. Douglas Hunecke (1991), Dr. Marion van Binsbergen Pritchard (1992 & 1998), Dr. Nechama Tec (1993 & 1998), Dr. Deborah Dwork (1994), Dr. Elie Wiesel (1995), Dr. Yehuda Bauer (1996), Dr. Jan Colijn (1997), Dr. Dienke Hondius (1997), Dr. Deborah E. Lipstadt (1999), and Dr. Stephen R. Haynes (2000)