Reflecting on Genocide

Student volunteers spent Thursday reading names of victims of the Holocaust and other genocides

Duke students Ayan Salah, left, and Priscille Schettini take turns reading names of genocide victims during the university's Holocaust Remembrance Day event.

Duke students commemorated Holocaust Remembrance Day Thursday by pairing up to read names of victims.

The somber recitation of names provided a solemn reminder of victims not only of the Holocaust but of a handful of other historic slaughters as well. The event, which enlisted students from both Duke's Jewish Student Union and the Muslim Student Association, included names of victims of genocides in Rwanda, Armenia, Bosnia, Cambodia and Darfur as well.

Two at a time, students stood at a lecturn and spent 10 minutes alternately reading names totaling more than 8,000 by the end of the day. Though a full day of reading, it didn't begin to place genocide in context, said David Estrin, a Duke junior who helped organize the event.

"At Auschwitz they went through 24,000 people a day," he said. "It's amazing to think about that. While we can't keep pace with that murderous, efficient factory of death, we'll read each name with respect."

In all, about 120 Duke students would participate in the readings, Estrin said.