Teachers Workshop-Neighbors on Neighbors: Complicity in Genocide

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Ramapo College of New Jersey

505 Ramapo Valley Road

Mahwah, NJ 07430

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In the genocidal events against the Armenians in Ottoman Turkey, the Jews in Hitler’s Europe, the Bosnian Moslems in disintegrating Yugoslavia and the Tutsi in Rwanda in 1994, thousands of perpetrators were to be found among the victim’s neighbors, friends, and even family members. As psychiatrist Robert Lifton, who studied Nazi doctors has said: “The truth is that we all have the possibility for genocidal behavior.”

Scholars, like Ervin Staub of the University of Massachusetts, have written that the reinforcement of group identity is one of the key elements in turning ordinary people into murders. Incitement can result in a spiral that leads people to think that it’s us or them. Conformity and a kind of mob mentality supplant the usual social, moral and ethical norms taught by all world religions. Victims are dehumanized to the point that their eradication or become totally acceptable.

As educators, we certainly need to guide our students an understanding of how tragedies like the ones referred to above occurred in the past. However, with ethnic, religious and racial strife becoming the new reality at home and abroad, it is incumbent upon us to help our students to a consciousness and sense of responsibility that will aid to calming the present and lead to culture of prevention for the future. It is hoped that our workshop will contribute to reaching these over-arching goals.

Gumpert Teachers’ Workshop

Neighbors on Neighbors: Complicity in Genocide


Thursday, November 16, 2017

9 a.m.-3 p.m.


Trustees Pavilion

Ramapo College of New Jersey

505 Ramapo Valley Road (Rt. 202)

Mahwah, NJ 07430-1623

FREE OF CHARGE –Breakfast and Lunch Included

Approved Workshop for Certification Renewal (5 Hours)

Assists in Adopting and Implementing N.J. Core Curriculum Standards Language Arts 3.1 Social Studies 6.1­6.3 World Languages 7.1 and 7.2


8:30-9 a.m.

Registration and Refreshments

9-9:15 a.m.


Dr. Michael A. Riff, Director

The Gross Center for Holocaust & Genocide Studies

9:15-10:25 a.m.


How Ordinary People Become Essential to the Execution of Genocide

Timothy Kaiser,

Deputy Director,

Levine Institute for Holocaust Education

United States Holocaust Memorial Museum

10:25- 10:35 a.m.


10:35 a.m.-11:45 p.m.

Complicity in Genocide: Lessons for the Classroom

Dr. Ann Mahon, Social Studies

Hunterdon Regional High School

12:00-1 p.m.


Screening of Documentary:

My Neighbors, My Killers


A Survivor Speaks from Personal Experience

To be determined

2:20-3 p.m.

Wrap-Up Discussion

In cooperation and with the support of the New Jersey State Commission on Holocaust Education

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Ramapo College of New Jersey

505 Ramapo Valley Road

Mahwah, NJ 07430

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