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Table of Contents
About this Issue
Remembering September 11th
Holocaust Survivors Reflect on September 11th
Teaching the Holocaust in an Age of Terror
Remembering and Commemorating September 11th
Glossary of Terms

Volume 16, No. 1/ Fall 2002   
Holocaust Survivors Reflect on September 11th
Remembering Tyranny

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Holocaust Survivors Reflect on September 11th
•  Feeling Out of Control
•  Recognizing Terror and Injustice
•  Shattered Dreams
•  Remembering Tyranny
•  Seven Months Later: Discussion Questions and Activities for Teachers
•  Table of Contents
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Fred Spiegel grew up in Dinslaken, Germany, and then moved to the Netherlands. From there he was transported to Westerbork and then to Bergen-Belsen where he was liberated. He sees some connections between the Nazi era and the attacks of September 11th.

One of the most deadly and destructive terrorist attacks happened on September 11th in New York, Washington, DC, and western Pennsylvania. Over 3000 innocent people were killed and the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center collapsed and some adjacent buildings were completely destroyed. In Washington part of the Pentagon was destroyed. In western Pennsylvania an airplane was wrestled from terrorists before it could crash into any United States buildings, but unhappily all on board died.
Fred Spiegel

When I speak in schools about my experiences during the Holocaust, and more recently about September 11th, the children ask, "What is your reaction to what happened? What were or are your feelings?" These are not easy questions to answer. How do you explain that there are people who are willing to crash an airplane into a building and die in order to further their cause? These are intelligent people, but religious fanatics who had been planning this for a number of years.

Suicide pilots and bombers are unfortunately nothing new. The Japanese in the Pacific in World War II had their kamikaze pilots who were willing to crash their airplanes into American ships. In Israel suicide bombers are almost an everyday occurrence. And American Embassies abroad and American military installations have felt the wrath of suicide bombers. However, nobody expected this on American soil. This has changed our lives forever.

When I first heard the news and saw on TV what was happening, it seemed unbelievable to me. I was not frightened so much as I was angry. Thousands of innocent lives were lost because of religious fanaticism, because of extremism by people who want to rule the world, as the Nazis did and put the world back into the Middle Ages and kill anybody who stands in their way, even if it means mass suicide.

I see some connection between September 11th and the Holocaust. The Nazi party was a terrorist party. They systematically assassinated leaders of parties opposed to their policies. They sent the S.A., a para-military organization, into the streets to terrorize the population. When they came to power, they held on to it by terror, killing their opponents or putting them into concentration camps. They even murdered many of the people who had helped them get to power including those killed during the bloodbath of "The Night of the Long Knives" in 1934.

For children the Holocaust is ancient history. It happened many years ago in the time of their grandparents. For them what happened on September 11th must have been a tremendous shock, especially for those directly affected by what happened. How do we explain to them that there is so much hate in this world?

For all of us September 11th was a rude awakening to reality. We have to teach our children that the future is their choice. And if they want peace in their future, they, and we, must stop this madness of racism, bigotry, and anti-Semitism, so that the Holocaust and catastrophes like the terrorist attacks on September 11th never happen again. Then we can face the future with confidence, that is, if we defeat our common enemy — terrorism, racism and fanaticism.

Discussion Questions

1. What connections does Fred make between the Holocaust and September 11th? What are the similarities and differences? Draw a Venn Diagram to illustrate these.

2. According to Fred what is our common enemy?

3. What lessons did Fred learn from the Holocaust? How do they compare with those of Professor Locke?

4. What lessons did you learn from September 11th?

Dimensions Online
Volume 18, No. 1, Fall 2004
Yehuda Bauer

Volume 17, No. 2, Fall 2003
Using Testimonies for Researching and Teaching about the Holocaust--Part II

Volume 17, No.1, Spring 2003
Using Testimonies for Researching and Teaching about the Holocaust-- Part I

Volume 16, No. 1, Fall 2002
Remembrance and Commemoration of Two Catastrophes: September 11th and the Holocaust

Articles from the Print Editions of Dimensions
Dimensions continues to be the leading journal in Holocaust studies -- appealing to both serious scholars and the mainstream audience.
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