Students' reflections and testimonials
"Over the past few years, and especially after my grandmother died at the beginning of this year, I have often thought about the time in Austria my grandparents grew up in. On the one hand about the suffering and the difficult times that they had to go through during the Second World War, when they were still teenagers and young adults, but also about the people who had to suffer even more during those difficult times. Unfortunately, I was never able to get to know the majority of my male ancestors because they either died in the war or as a result of the war, but my last deceased grandmother tried to tell me as much as possible about them when I was little. She often stressed that it was a very difficult time, especially for my grandfather, who was just 19 years old at the time of the "Anschluss", so he was more or less still a child, when he was forced to join the “Wehrmacht” and go to war. He was imprisoned in Russia for years but was lucky enough to survive. My grandma often emphasized that her Jewish friends with whom she went to school with were not so lucky as my grandfather and that was when I started to gain interest in the history of the Jewish population of Austria."
"This course has been a great impactful insight into a topic I was not at all familiar with. Anti-Semitism is not something I learned about in the English school system and so it was refreshing to research this topic."
"I was looking forward to this course, because I wanted to learn more about what antisemitism is and how it has changed since the times of national socialism. Already in the first session I have learnt that in Hungary (my homeland) there are plenty of anti-Semites, which was a bit schocking to hear, since I never met a single person who has issues with Jews. This triggered me to look deeper into the matter, so I researched some papers and articles about antisemitism in Hungary."
"My first realization of Holocaust was when one of my Jewish friends gave me the book ‘Anne Frank: Diary of a young girl’ as a graduation gift. I remember being hit by the book trying to accept that evil exists in the world on one hand and being ashamed by the fact that I actually never ever talked with my friends about the topic as I would have ignored it. Years passed and our friendship continued yet until last week I had never talked to any of my close friends about their feelings or even the fact that they are Jewish. I just did not know how to do, so have chosen to avoid it all together. Being interested in history and specifically in WW2 I was very happy to join the Anti-Semitism in Workplace course. The course has clearly shifted my mind-set and built further sensitivity muscles, listening to various professionals with different backgrounds. The game-changer for me was my research assignment about contemporary antisemitism in Turkey. I must admit, it has proven how ignorant I was when I reflect on it now, because I thought at the beginning ‘There isn’t any anti-Semitism in Turkey’. As I could not find too many written sources, I decided to call my friends and talk to them for the first time about being a Jew in Turkey. I had 8 different interview calls with 5 of my friends and one father of a friend. I have been working in the HR field for the last 17 years and am known as an extrovert personality with high communicative skills. Yet I can say that these calls were one of the most difficult calls I have ever conducted. The nature of these interviews was not hard, tough it was challenging from a personal level to ask the questions trying not to say something wrong or offend the other party. The more we have spoken the more I realized how ignorant I was towards the feelings of my close friends. Another mind-set I have realized is that I knew the WW2 history very well but I was also caught in ‘one man evil’ problem of Germany as if antisemitism was a one-time historical event that happened 60+ years ago and was over. I did not feel any responsibility nor accountability for holocaust or antisemitic events as it was those manipulative Germans who believed in Hitler to blame. Luckily, I was able to shift my mind-set away from those wrong assumptions after the course and simple interviews with my friends. I have realized that it is easy to think of myself as a non-racist or non-discriminative person when belonging to a majority in a society but I have to question my intentions and even thoughts constantly to be really fair and open."
"The issue of „the other” is particularly important now in times of globalization, because of the “foreigner position” that third culture generations are talking nowadays. Having a “potential wanderer” status myself, not having belonged in Austria from the beginning, but not belonging in my home country Romania either, I could easily relate to some of the assumptions made in the first text we had read, “The Stranger”. However, I had not imagined what antisemitism really meant before taking this course. It makes me feel like I had been ignorant beforehand. On the other hand, it teaches me not to be ignorant anymore in the future."
"Growing up on the edge of the Bible Belt of the US, I have heard more than my fair share of Jewish jokes and casual anti-Semitic remarks, but I never grasped how this was actually a part of a bigger culture that has been at play for hundreds, if not thousands of years."
"I can’t help but feel overwhelmed while reflecting on all of the knowledge I’ve gathered this semester. I didn’t really know what to expect when I first signed up for the course, but I knew I was interested in the content because, as I’m a Jew, I want to gain an insight on what antisemitism is like not only in Austria, but in other parts around the world as well. I’m proud to be a Jew and I feel very accomplished after having taken this course."
"I am very happy to have taken this course as I have learned many things in a subject area I have never come into contact with before in a university course."
"My family has Jewish roots so I was quite shocked of the number of students who did not know about the existence of antisemitism in Austria. Therefore, I have enjoyed this course even more, because of the enlightening effect it had on many."
"I believe classes of these kind are important now more than ever for students in Austria. There is a long history of hiding or diluting the truth about the atrocities of the Second World War. While many have or are coming to terms with the truth of the history, there is still a lot of work to be done to slow and undo the rising antisemitism of the last few years and to reach a true understanding of how it should be ‘never again’."
"“Antisemitism at Work in Austria” deviates from the norm in so far as less focus is put on studying thick books and more on student participation, group projects and the integration of external experts. It was the first time I worked with foreign exchange students in a team."
"Grundsätzlich habe ich das Thema für den Kurs sehr spannend gefunden, obwohl ich es sehr außergewöhnlich gefunden habe einen Kurs mit diesem Titel auf der Wirtschaftsuniversität zu finden. Der Kurs „Antisemitism in Austria at Work“ war für mich persönlich eine ganz neue Erfahrung, nicht nur weil ich mich noch nie so intensiv mit diesem Thema beschäftigt habe sondern auch aufgrund des Lehrdesigns der Vorlesung. Ehrlich gesagt war mir überhaupt nicht bewusst, dass diese Thematik noch immer so präsent ist in unsere heutigen, „modernen“ und „aufgeklärten“ Welt."