Ethical Considerations and the Holocaust

The number of active perpetrators in the Holocaust was relatively small compared to the millions of civilians living in occupied Europe during the Second World War. What about these millions of others? Where do they fall on the spectrum of responsibility that ranges from perpetrator, to collaborator, to bystander, to rescuer? Is the woman who photographs a deportation of Jews outside her home a bystander, or does her decision to document the event make her something more? How complicit is the man who buys the household goods of deported Jews sold at auction? What about villagers that supply wagons and shovels to Einsatzgruppen actions?

This five-week course will discuss these difficult issues that confronted ordinary people during the Holocaust and apply those lessons to our world today.

March 2/3 – Bystanders

This introductory week will look at the broad category of bystanders with a particular emphasis on individuals in Germany and Austria. We will discuss what people witnessed, what actions were possible, and changes in behavior over time.


March 9/10 Professional Ethics

Throughout its 12 years of existence the Nazi government asked thousands of professionals to disregard their normal professional ethics to facilitate the goals of the state. This session will examine the role of doctors, lawyers, engineers, and others whose actions contributed to state-sponsored murder.

March 16/17- The Gray Zone

From the actions of ghetto police to the “choiceless choices” of those within the camp system, this session will address the difficult positions many Jews were placed in during the Holocaust.

March 23/24- Bystanders under Occupation

While ordinary citizens witnessed deportations in the West, in Eastern countries under occupation civilians witnessed and were asked to contribute to shooting actions. For this session we will read In Broad Daylight: The Secret Procedures behind the Holocaust by Bullets by Patrick Desbois.

March 30/31- Today’s World

After examining the actions and choices made by those in the past, this session will focus on applying these lessons to our own world. We will look at current issues of genocide, immigration, and hate speech.

This is the fifth and final meeting of the Fall 2022 Lunch & Learn

In-Person Course

Thursdays 12:00 – 1:15 p.m.
March 2 – March 30, 2023
Sessions will be held in person in the Board Room of the Jewish Community Center
Use the PayPal button below to register for the in person course.

Online Course

On Zoom
Fridays 12-1:15p.m.
March 3- March 31, 2023
Use this PayPal button to register for the online course.

This program is supported, in part, by an allocation from the Jewish Federation of Greater Kansas City.

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Our mission is to teach the history of the Holocaust, applying its lessons to counter indifference, intolerance, and genocide.

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5801 West 115th Street STE #106,
Overland Park, KS 66211

(913) 327-8192

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