Holocaust (3) This course is an in-depth study of the history of the Holocaust in Europe that puts special emphasis on primary sources.
HIST (J ST) 426 Holocaust (3)
(BA) This course meets the Bachelor of Arts degree requirements.
The Holocaust stands out as the most terrible and challenging phenomenon of the 20th Century. Societies and the scholarship struggled for decades to fully grasp how much the Holocaust has questioned widely shared assumptions about modernity and progress. This course pursues the overarching question how the Holocaust could have taken place. Who were the perpetrators, victims and bystanders? How much agency did they have? How was the Holocaust organized? The course will encourage students to critically engage with the Holocaust, and will consider a variety of different kinds of sources and means of representation, including oral testimony, film and fiction, as well as more conventional documentation.
After discussing some of the most important studies about the Holocaust and identifying the main historiographical debates, students will look at the origins and the evolution of the “Final Solution.” The class will touch on the function of the “Ghettos,” the role of the mobile killing units, the extermination camps, and Jewish resistance. The course will also deal with Jewish responses to the Holocaust, notably with attempts to enable Jews to emigrate to safe countries; with efforts to alert the public to the systematic killing after 1940; and the support especially of American Jews for Jewish survivors and DPs. Apart from discussing the historiography, students will work mostly with primary sources. Students are expected to do extensive reading for this class and prepare oral presentations on their respective paper topic. The research paper for this course will be based largely on primary sources.
Apart from discussing the historiography, the sessions will concentrate on the interpretation of primary sources:
- documents created by the perpetrators, bystanders, and victims;
- files relating to postwar trials of perpetrators;
- representations of objects relating to the Holocaust;
- memoirs by survivors;
- interviews with survivors and bystanders.
Note : Class size, frequency of offering, and evaluation methods will vary by location and instructor. For these details check the specific course syllabus.