Powerful opening to ‘Deadly Medicine’ exhibit

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Allie Liebenow
Contributing Writer

On Thursday, Nov. 17, the University of Dallas community gathered for a private opening of “Deadly Medicine: Creating the Master Race,” a traveling exhibit of the United States Holocaust Museum in Washington, D.C.  Guests were given the chance to experience the exhibit and to reflect upon it before gathering to hear the featured speaker, Susan Bachrach, Special Exhibitions Curator at the United States Holocaust Museum, talk about the message and goal of “Deadly Medicine.” She explained that the Holocaust museum was created with the purpose of spreading the story of the Holocaust and preventing genocide in the future.  In her discussion of “Deadly Medicine,” Bachrach said that she believes it is one of the best traveling exhibits of the museum.

The exhibit is bound to make a great impact on the University of Dallas campus and the Dallas area.  Ms. Melissa Gendason, director of the Southwest region, explained that she has dreamed of having the exhibit visit the Dallas area for years.  Dr. Amy Fisher-Smith, associate professor of psychology at UD, is the driving force behind the campaign to have “Deadly Medicine” displayed here.  She is a passionate Holocaust educator and is currently teaching a “Reflections on the Shoah” course in conjunction with history professor Dr. Charles Sullivan, who has also been an important figure in the effort to get “Deadly Medicine” on campus.

On Thursday, Fisher-Smith expressed her gratitude that the project which she has been working towards for the past two years has come to fruition. She feels very strongly about the importance of this topic, especially in light of the issues we face today, saying “‘Deadly Medicine’ raises profound moral, psychological, sociological and even theological questions that help us confront and situate ourselves as a culture.  I hope that all students, faculty and staff have an opportunity to see the exhibit.”

“Deadly Medicine” focuses on the eugenic experiments of scientists leading up to and during the Holocaust.  Viewers will be struck by the complicity of scientists from the United States and Europe in the Nazi program of genetic experimentation.  Many scientists, including many Americans, decided to collaborate with the Nazi party because it would further the research they were already conducting.  The Nazis promoted an image of an “ideal” Aryan society of strong, “fit” individuals and sought to perform “racial cleansing.”  In her talk, Ms. Bachrach displayed propaganda photographs that illustrated the way Germans were being advised to breed selectively.  Sterilization began to be required for those deemed “unfit” or “inferior,” such as Jews, the mentally disabled and other groups.  Many of these people were euthanized.  These genetic experiments contributed to a rationale that people accepted and utilized in the mass murders of the Holocaust.

The message of “Deadly Medicine” is highly pertinent today.  The propaganda poster from the 1930s proclaiming that certain people are a “burden” to society was shocking to me, and it is an idea that is still alive today.  Issues that our society deals with today, such as euthanasia, genetic counseling, abortion and immigration, appear in a different light when considered in relation to the Holocaust.  The recent showing of the film “The Last Survivor” at the Angelika Theater in support of “Deadly Medicine” reminded viewers that genocide is still happening in Darfur and in other places.

Awareness of genocide and how it begins will evoke in many of us the question of what we can do.

First of all, you can visit the exhibit, which is open Monday – Friday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Saturdays from 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. You can also participate in the study that is being conducted in relation to the exhibit by psychology professors Dr. Erin Freeman and Dr. Fisher-Smith.  The New York Times has stated that “Deadly Medicine” “should be a part of every citizen’s experience.”  “Deadly Medicine” is helping me realize that promoting human dignity and fighting genocide is every citizen’s, Christian’s and human’s responsibility.

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