Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Six Seniors Complete Final Presentations with Honors

Christen, Dan, Jay, Teresa, und Greg -- Wir sind so stolz auf euch!

TERESA M. WALCH    Supporting a Myth: The Effect of Vienna’s Post-World War II Monuments on Austrian Identity, 1945-1955. (Mark Thamert, OSB, PhD, Modern and Classical Languages).   Although many Austrians participated in the crimes of the third Reich, Austria was labeled as the first victim of German aggression in the Allied Moscow Declaration of 1943. In order to conform to this victim myth, postwar Austrian political elites created and used a distinct, non-German identity to serve their own political agendas. Provincial and locally-sponsored Austrian memorials disputed the official memory that was supported and sustained by politically-sponsored monuments in Vienna during the initial postwar decade. This study delves into Austria’s post-World War II monument culture, specifically focusing on Vienna’s monuments and memorials, and it analyzes Austrian political elites’ utilization of these sites of memory to support the official postwar Austrian identity.

CHRISTEN BECKSTRAND   Music as Political Tool: The Role of Music as Propaganda in Nazi Germany (1933-1945).  (Dr. Andreas Kiryakakis, Modern and Classical Languages).  The Third Reich (1933-1945) drew upon many aspects of German nationalism to solidify its control, including German musical culture, which played an important role in the regime's overall propaganda effort. Exploiting the Germanic musical culture, the Nazi party won “acceptance by creating the proper emotional atmosphere,” wherein the acceptance of the Nazi party and Nazi ideals was simple and natural for the German public (Moller, 44). The Third Reich worked to promote the purity of German culture and the credibility of the Nazi Party by exalting the past Germanic (Aryan) musical greats, censoring new musical material, and excluding Jews from the musical scene. As a musical, emotional, and political movement, the Third Reich successfully infiltrated the German Volk through a popular vein: the love and appreciation for Germany’s composers and the tradition of German dominance in the musical movement.

MATTHEW T. BECK  Immigration and the German School System: a Freirean Perspective.   (Dr. Anna Lisa Ohm, Modern and Classical Languages).  During the economic boom of the 1950's, Germany welcomed guest workers from other countries to help rebuild its economy. Since then, the children of many of these immigrants have struggled to succeed in school. In order to improve their situation, I suggest that a combination of Paulo Freire's critical pedagogy, multicultural education, and collaborative dialog may help immigrant children acquire both the language skills and the cultural knowledge necessary for academic success. In this project I draw upon theories of second language acquisition; works by educational theorists from Germany, America, and Canada; and the experiences of German educators.

GREG SANDQUIST   The Berlin airlift: the start of the US-German relationship. (Dr. Anna Lisa Ohm, Modern and Classical Languages).   From June 1948 until 1949, the city of West Berlin suffered under the hands of the Soviet blockade of all Allied supply lines through the Soviet-occupied zone. The Berlin Airlift in the end was a success, but many Americans and Germans were extremely worried that it would fail in the beginning stages. During the 11 months of the Airlift, the US came to understand its previous enemy as a mutual partner and friend. After 50-60 years of almost being forgotten, interest in the Berlin Airlift exploded in the late 1990s and early 2000s. Anniversaries were being celebrated and the veterans who participated in one of America’s finest hours are passing on, but Americans are also seeking answers in a previous era, the era of the “Greatest Generation,” when the US found solutions instead of being the problem.

JAY M. RANFRANZ   How Far is Too Far? A Comparison of Nazi Eugenic Movements during World War II with Today’s Developments in Modern Eugenics.  (Mark Thamert, OSB, Ph.D., Modern and Classical Languages).  Scientific breakthroughs in the field of genetics during the 21st century have greatly contributed to the science community and general public, but where could these technological advances lead? With new information about the role of genes in human development, classic eugenicists have turned to genetic engineering to manipulate the human genome in hopes of improving the human race. The problem is that even though the science behind this practice has changed, the ethical dilemmas have remained. Modern eugenicists argue that exterminating “bad” genes from the population will better humanity as a whole. This movement is eerily similar to the Nazi Party’s support of racial hygiene. Modern eugenics is morally indefensible based on its close resemblance to the Nazi eugenic movements of WWII, which has already been accepted as wrong. Science pushes the limits of what ethicists deem morally right or wrong, so the question is, How far is too far?

DAN SALAY   The significance of the word Volk [German People] from the Romantic period to today (Dr. Anna Lisa Ohm, Modern and Classical Languages)  The words DEM DEUTSCHE VOLKE [To the German People] stand over the main entrance to the Reichstag building in Berlin. The interpretation of Volk has transformed since the time of the romantics. The placement of these words on the Reichstag in 1916 stirred early debates about the true meaning of Volk for all Germans. The word Volk has undergone changes that carry both positive and negative connotation connected directly to the history of German politics and culture. Beginning in the Romantic period, and following through the Weimar Republic, the Third Reich, the Cold War, and up to today, Volk has gained no universally accepted definition regarding its proper usage for the modern day. Its presence on the Reichstag publically presents the question of its meaning to this day. This unresolved question generates debate and remains a thorn in the side of Germany’s identity and its position in the world.