History Major First UALR Student to be Invited to D.C. Research Event

Van ProoyenUALR senior history major, Anitra Van Prooyen of Jacksonville, has been selected to participate in “Posters on the Hill,” (POH) on April 13, 2011 in Washington D.C. An annual event, POH is sponsored by the Council on Undergraduate Research (CUR) which is a D.C.-based organization to support and promote high quality student-faculty collaborative research and scholarship.
Van Prooyen is the first UALR student to be invited to POH. CUR chose only 74 proposals out of nearly 700 that were submitted nationwide.
Her research project, “Why Did the Trains Stop? The Suspension of Jewish Deportation from Slovakia during the Holocaust,” examines the mystery of how Slovakia was able to stop Jewish deportations from their country from 1942-1944 despite overwhelming Nazi pressure. At POH, she will showcase her research on a poster at a luncheon for congressional members.

“My argument invokes a paradox to explain this anomaly,” said Van Prooyen of the mystery in Slovakia which has stumped historians for decades. “The only way Slovaks could interrupt Germany’s Final Solution was to co-opt the Slovak regime installed by the Germans themselves. This strategy was deployed by three groups attempting to stop the slaughter.”

“Jewish organizations bribed German officials to thwart the plans of Berlin; local churches rallied public opposition to the deportations by capitalizing upon the Nazi publicity campaign to demonstrate the autonomy of its conquered territories; and Slovak politicians, having acquired oversight of the deportees, sabotaged the Final Solution by manipulating German bureaucrats put there to execute it.”

She started researching the events in Slovakia in a class on the Holocaust taught by Thomas Kaiser, professor of history. “The exceptional quality of this project and the ability of Ms. Van Prooyen to communicate her results are beyond question,” said Kaiser, her faculty collaborator. “Last spring, I organized a research forum in commemoration of Holocaust Memorial Day, in which the best papers written in my Holocaust course were orally presented by their authors. Ms. Van Prooyen’s presentation was chosen as the first-place winner by another faculty member. She was deluged with questions from students who wanted to know more about her intriguing project.”

Van Prooyen created a poster highlighting her research which she entered in to the UALR Undergraduate Research Exposition last year and for which she won first place in the Humanities category.

For more information, contact Kaiser at 501-569-8394 or at tekaiser@ualr.edu.

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