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The Investigation Canto's 1 - 5 Discussion Questions

1. In Canto 1 page 13, Witness 2, a train station worker at the station where many of the trains full of Jewish and other victims of the Holocaust stopped as they were transported to concentration camps. Witness 2 is is asked if he had heard that these people were being sent to death camps or being exterminated to which he responds “How could anyone believe something like that.” Why do you think he chose to answer this way? He also testifies that he once tried to give a child on the train water and was told if he did he would be shot. What do these events and his answers tell us about the broader context of German ‘bystanders’ and their level of responsibility for the Holocaust?

2. Defendant 3 (a camp doctor) and Defendant 8 (who worked on the ramp entrance to the camps separating those who would work and those who would be gassed) both describe their jobs and “simply doing their duty” and site examples of times when they would bend the rules to try and give people a fighting chance at life. What did you make of their testimonies? Do you view them as guilty and to what degree? (Pages 19 and 20)

3. In Canto 4, Part II, we hear from Witness 3, who had been imprisoned at Auschwitz but was also assigned as a doctor's assistant due to his skills. He was therefore given some authority over who died and who lived, but was still technically a prisoner himself. What does he say about his complicity in crime, and what effect does this testimony have on your understanding of Holocaust perpetrators?

4. We hear from several defendants who had several different roles in the Holocaust. Do you differentiate their levels of guilt? How so? Do you believe that all those complicit in these crimes were evil people? Why or why not?

5. The question that often surfaces when we think of Nazi Germany and the holocaust is “How could this have happened?” This play helps us answer this question, as it displays the several strategies of fascist and nazi ideologies. What strategies did you notice from the play? How did the nazi regime manage to do what they did?

6. How can learning about nazism and the holocaust assist us today? Can we draw comparisons between the nazi’s fascist ideologies and strategies and events we see happening today? Is it fair to do so, or might it be considered insensitive to compare Anything today to the horrors of the holocaust?

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