"The 'Maurerschulen' (Brick Mason Schools) at Auschwitz"
(Conferences / Seminars / Lectures)
Presenter: Kenneth Waltzer, Professor Emeritus, James Madison College, Michigan State University
There were "Maurerschulen" (brick mason schools) inside Auschwitz, where boys and young men selected for work were trained as brick masons. A Maurerschule existed from 1942-44, and trained hundreds of prisoners, who were then assigned to bricklaying and construction units in the Auschwitz complex. A famous prisoner watercolor drawn of the Maurerschule says in German: "It saved hundreds of children's lives." Professor Waltzer's presentation, based on original research in oral testimonies and memoirs by former inmates as well as some interviews, explores whether the Maurerschule was a haven and refuge, offering asylum to young prisoners, or a school for critical skills and credentialing that helped some survive in the Nazi camp universe, or just another space in Auschwitz, with prisoners subjected to selections, medical experiments, and unyielding Nazi terror. How did those who survived and later recalled it view it in retrospect? Co-sponsored by James Madison College and the Center for European, Russian, and Eurasian Studies.