A Transnational History of the Holocaust: Sources (HIH3162)

StaffDr Nicholas Terry - Convenor
Credit Value30
ECTS Value15
NQF Level6
Pre-requisitesAt least 90 credits of History at Level 1 and/or Level 2.
Co-requisitesA Transnational History of the Holocaust: Context
Duration of Module Term 1: 11 weeks; Term 2: 11 weeks;

Module aims

Together with its co-requisite, the module will introduce students to the multiple histories of the Holocaust as told from the perspectives of perpetrators, victims and bystanders, engaging closely with a wide variety of sources documenting both the causes of and reactions to persecution and mass murder between 1933 and 1945. Drawing on published and translated source collections as well as a growing number of online digital archives, the module will make use of many personal documents such as contemporary diaries, letters, manuscripts and post-war memoirs, as well as official sources including the correspondence of relief agencies and diplomats, the archives of Jewish councils and ghettos, SS and other Nazi records, photographs, interrogations and trial transcripts. While students with reading knowledge of a foreign language can engage with digitised sources in a variety of European languages, the volume of source material available in English for this module is such that students without foreign languages will not be disadvantaged.


Through working with the extensive primary source collections available to this module, students will develop a range of research, analytical, interpretative and communication skills that can be applied in further academic studies or in graduate careers.

ILO: Module-specific skills

  • 1. Have a detailed knowledge of the different sources available for the study of the Holocaust from a comparative and transnational perspective, together with a very close specialist knowledge of those sources which the students focus upon in their seminar presentations and written work.
  • 2. Analyse the complex diversity of the sources studied.

ILO: Discipline-specific skills

  • 3. Analyse closely original sources and to assess their reliability as historical evidence. Ability to focus on and comprehend complex texts
  • 4. Understand and deploy relevant historical terminology in a comprehensible manner.
  • 5. Follow the changing causes of and responses to persecution and mass murder across the period.

ILO: Personal and key skills

  • 6. Independently and autonomously study and also work within a group, including presentation of material for group discussion, developed through the mode of learning
  • 7. Digest, select and organise material to produce, to a deadline, a coherent and cogent argument, developed through the mode of assessment
  • 8. Present complex arguments orally

Syllabus plan

The module focuses on the sources for the history of the Holocaust from the following perspectives, viewed transnationally and comparatively: 1) the evolution of persecution and mass murder of European Jews by the Nazi state from 1933 to 1945, and the reactions of German society to persecution and murder; 2) the persecution and murder of Jews by Axis states, collaborators and by ordinary Europeans, as well as reactions to persecution and murder in European societies; 3) Jewish responses to persecution and murder inside Nazi and Axis Europe; 4) international Jewish responses to persecution and murder outside Nazi and Axis Europe; 5) the reactions of states and societies outside Nazi and Axis Europe; 6) the interactions between perpetrators, victims, bystanders and ‘neighbours’.


The introductory sessions for this module will provide an overview of the subject and also expose students to the sources themselves. The seminars will focus on sources drawn from published and digitised resources, allowing students to develop their knowledge of the subject in conjunction with the close analysis of historiography provided in the co-requisite module, and to develop their skills in source analysis and acquisition. Some of the sources will be presented by individual students, others will be presented by students working in groups; and on other occasions there will be open discussion; students may also be expected to present and discuss specific sources they have found themselves from the module resources. Students will be expected to prepare for seminars by reading and evaluating the relevant sources in advance, and will discuss the issues raised by them in the seminars.

Learning activities and teaching methods (given in hours of study time)

Scheduled Learning and Teaching ActivitiesGuided independent studyPlacement / study abroad

Details of learning activities and teaching methods

CategoryHours of study timeDescription
Scheduled learning and teaching activities4422 x 2 hour seminars.
Guided independent study256Reading and preparation for seminars, coursework and presentations.

Formative assessment

Form of assessmentSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Seminar discussionOngoing through course.1-6, 8Oral from tutor and fellow students.

Summative assessment (% of credit)

CourseworkWritten examsPractical exams

Details of summative assessment

Form of assessment% of creditSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Portfolio702 assignments totalling 4000 words1-7Verbal and written.
Individual Presentation3020-30 minutes1-8Verbal and written.

Details of re-assessment (where required by referral or deferral)

Original form of assessmentForm of re-assessmentILOs re-assessedTimescale for re-assessment
PortfolioPortfolio1-7Referral/deferral period.
PresentationWritten transcript of 20 minute presentation.1-8

Re-assessment notes

The re-assessment consists of a 4,000 word portfolio of source work, as in the original assessment, but replaces the individual presentation with a written script that could be delivered in such a presentation and which is the equivalent of 20 minutes of speech.

Indicative learning resources - Basic reading

Jewish Responses to Persecution, Volumes I-V. Lanham, MD: AltaMira, 2010-2015

Kulka,Otto Dov and Eberhard Ja��ckel (eds), The Jews in the secret Nazi reports on popular opinion in Germany, 1933-1945. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2010

Heberer, Patricia (ed), Children during the holocaust. Lanham: AltaMira Press, 2015

Dobroszycki,Lucjan (ed), The Chronicle of the Ã?�ódÃ?º ghetto 1941-1944. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1984

Kermish, Joseph (ed), To live with honor and die with honor!: selected documents from the Warsaw Ghetto Underground Archives "O.S." ("Oneg Shabbath"). Jerusalem: Yad Vashem, 1986

Ehrenburg, Ilya and Vasily Grossman, The Complete Black Book of Russian Jewry. New Brunswick: Transaction Publishers, 2002                                 

Altman, Ilya, The Unknown Black Book: The Holocaust in the German-Occupied Soviet Territories. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2008

Kassow, Samuel (ed), The clandestine history of the Kovno Jewish ghetto police. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2014

Vági, Zoltán (ed), The Holocaust in Hungary: evolution of a genocide. Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield, 2013

The Auschwitz album: a book based upon an album discovered by a concentration camp survivor, Lili Meier. New York, 1981

Module has an active ELE page?


Indicative learning resources - Web based and electronic resources

Yad Vashem Digital Collections: http://www.yadvashem.org/yv/en/resources/index.asp

Ghetto Fighters’ House Digital Archive: http://www.gfh.org.il/eng/?CategoryID=87

Leo Baeck Institute Digital Archive via http://cjh.org/

American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee Digital Archives: http://archives.jdc.org/?s=archivestopnav

Jewish Telegraphic Agency Archive: http://www.jta.org/jta-archive/archive-page

Nuremberg Trials at Library of Congress Military Legal Resources: http://www.loc.gov/rr/frd/Military_Law/NTs_war-criminals.html

Harvard Nuremberg Project: http://nuremberg.law.harvard.edu/php/docs_swi.php?DI=1&text=overview

Eichmann Trial transcript: http://www.nizkor.org/hweb/people/e/eichmann-adolf/transcripts/    

Lodz ghetto Jewish council records and statistics: http://www.szukajwarchiwach.pl/39/278/0/#tabZespol

Polish government-in-exile Foreign Ministry Records, English language reports: http://www.szukajwarchiwach.pl/800/42/0#tabZespol

Records of the US War Refugee Board, 1944-45: http://www.fdrlibrary.marist.edu/archives/collections/franklin/?p=collections/findingaid&id=534&q=&rootcontentid=188864

Translated testimonies of Hungarian Jewish survivors recorded in 1945: http://degob.org/

Indicative learning resources - Other resources

Exeter Electronic Library resources include:

New York Times, Guardian, The Times, Daily Mail; Foreign Broadcast Information Service Reports (1941-1996), Mass Observation Online, Cabinet Papers from The National Archives; Churchill Archive

Available as distance learning?


Origin date


Last revision date


Key words search

Holocaust; Jewish History, World War II