History Student Discusses Research Project on Disability Community During Holocaust

Senior history and subject matter education double-major Raymond Wos, Jr. talks about the significance of his senior seminar research paper that focuses on the disability community in Nazi Germany. Photo courtesy of Raymond Wos, Jr.

“History has its eyes on you.” 

That’s the concept senior Raymond Wos, Jr. focused on for his senior seminar research project titled, “United States of America’s Perspective on Nazi Germany’s Euthanasia Program on the Disability Community.” 

Wos transferred from the Rowan College of South Jersey and took on majors in history and subject matter education with a double minor in International Studies and Political Science. He found that Rowan was a great choice for him to continue his academic journey because the education program is well-received.

With history being something he is passionate about, Wos wanted to dig deeper with his research on Nazi Germany.

During his time at Rowan, a number of staff members inspired and motivated him to succeed. The three professors are Dr. Mikkel Dack, Professor Beatrice Carey and Dr. Jody Manning. These staff members are involved in teaching Nazi Germany history and helped Wos produce his research project.

“I have selected these three professors because they have created the most unique experience and created exposure to passionate topics that matter to me as a historian and educator,” Wos said.

When the COVID-19 pandemic began, Rowan University’s education department was majorly affected. Education students were unable to complete parts of their program because it required in-person teaching. Some were able to switch to Zoom teaching, but it did not have the same impact with students as it would in person.

“As a student who is trying to become a history teacher at a high school, it puts a lot of things into perspective of the new learning environment,” Wos said. “The global pandemic, COVID-19, causes me a lot of stress since I had transferred in the Spring 2020 and not being able to get involved as much as I wanted to be.”

Wos emphasized how the pandemic affected him not being able to engage with his class material, but he made adjustments. Luckily, because he made the transition to online learning, his senior seminar research paper had not affected him since he could adapt to the changes through the online environment.

Wos’s paper focuses on bringing awareness to the disability community in a historical context. Wos took classes on Nazi Germany, so it was a great opportunity for him to dive deeper into the subject and learn more about the history of that time.

“My overall premise of my seminar research paper discusses the United States inaction of not providing a lot of support and aid to the disability community in Germany that were highly affected from the Euthanasia Program,” Wos said.

Wos chose to further investigate the approach and perspective of the Euthanasia Program, also known as the T-4 Program, because he didn’t know much about the topic when it was presented to him in his classes. He learned about how it affected the disability community within Germany and other parts of the world, and immediately became invested.

“As a person who belongs in the disability community, I had to bring awareness to people with disabilities into the history because they are usually the community that felt out in that conversation which is disappointing. I want to make that change,” Wos said.

Though there are a lot of aspects of the project Wos enjoyed, one particular reading stood out to him as his favorite.

“My personal favorite part of my seminar research paper was reading through personal testimony from Robert Wagemann on the Euthanasia Program and how he was able to escape from persecution and intimate danger,” Wos said.

If there is something that people should take away from the Euthanasia Program as well as the research Wos presented on it, it’s that they should not exclude the disability community from that part of history, as well as society as a whole.

“People with disabilities have the same issues and struggles like everyone else that should be valid, but not be tossed aside without any awareness of the issue at hand,” Wos said.

Since this is Wos’s senior seminar research paper, he aims to continue his research further. After editing and providing additional information, Wos aims to publish his work since it is very important to him and for other people to read.

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