A Transnational History of the Holocaust: Context (HIH3163)

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

Module aims

From the emigration of victims of Nazi persecution in 1933 through the refugee crisis of the late 1930s to the systematic deportation of Jews from across Europe to the extermination camps in Poland between 1942 and 1944, the study of the Holocaust inevitably crosses borders. This module will introduce students to the multiple histories of the Holocaust as told from the perspectives of perpetrators, victims and bystanders, and encourage a critical engagement with these histories by applying a comparative and transnational perspective. You will study not only the evolution of Nazi and Axis persecution and mass murder, but also Jewish responses inside and outside occupied Europe, as well as the reactions of civil societies and international diplomats to these events. You will encounter new approaches in the fast-moving field of Holocaust historiography, from the cultural history of the meaning of persecution and murder to the perpetrators, to the social histories of ghettos, Jewish councils and concentration camps. You will also engage with the complex debates over international responses to the Holocaust, a topic of contemporary relevance in an era of mass migration and conflict.


Through engaging with the complex historiographies and controversies over different aspects of the Holocaust, the module aims to develop research, analytical, interpretative and communication skills that can be applied in further academic studies or in graduate careers.

ILO: Module-specific skills

  • 1. Evaluate the different complex themes in the history of the Holocaust from a comparative and transnational perspective
  • 2. Make close specialist evaluation of the key developments within the period, developed through independent study and seminar work.

ILO: Discipline-specific skills

  • 3. Analyse the key developments within the evolution of the Holocaust and responses to persecution and mass murder between 1933 and 1945
  • 4. Focus on and comprehend complex issues.
  • 5. Understand and deploy relevant historical terminology in a comprehensible manner.
  • 6. Follow the changing causes of and responses to persecution and mass murder across the period.

ILO: Personal and key skills

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

Syllabus plan

The module focuses on the context to 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’.


Some of the students will already have studied aspects of the history of the Holocaust; others will not. The introductory sessions will therefore be important in offering a broad overview within which framework all students can place their subsequent work. The co-requisite module will also provide close focus on the historical sources available for the study of the Holocaust from a transnational and comparative perspective, so complementing this module. The seminars will focus on the central issues in the history of the Holocaust from a transnational and comparative perspective, allowing students to develop their skills and knowledge more fully. Students will be expected to prepare for seminars by reading and evaluating the respective 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.1-7, 9Verbal 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
Essay253,000 words1-8Verbal and written
Essay253,000 words1-8Verbal and written
Unseen-exam502 questions in 2 hours1-8Verbal and written

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

Original form of assessmentForm of re-assessmentILOs re-assessedTimescale for re-assessment
Two essaysTwo essays1-8Referral/deferral period.
Unseen examUnseen exam1-8Referral/deferral period.

Indicative learning resources - Basic reading

Bloxham, Donald, The final solution: a genocide. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2009

Cesarani, David, Final solution: the fate of the Jews 1933-1949. London: Macmillan, 2016

Confino, Alon, A world without Jews: the Nazi imagination from persecution to genocide. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2014

Friedländer, Saul, The Years of Persecution: Nazi Germany and the Jews.London: Phoenix Giant, 1998; The Years of Extermination. Nazi Germany and the Jews 1939-1945. New York: Harper Collins, 2007

Jonathan C Friedman (ed), The Routledge history of the Holocaust. New York: Routledge, 2011

Gerlach, Christian, The extermination of the European Jews. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2016

Longerich, Peter, Holocaust: The Nazi Persecution and Murder of the Jews. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2010

Herf, Jeffrey, The Jewish Enemy. Nazi Propaganda during World War II and the Holocaust. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2006

Snyder, Timothy, Black earth: the Holocaust as history and warning. London: The Bodley Head, 2015

Stone, Dan, Histories of the Holocaust. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2010

Wachsmann, Nikolaus, KL: a history of the Nazi concentration camps. London: Little, Brown, 2015

Module has an active ELE page?


Indicative learning resources - Web based and electronic resources

Yad Vashem Holocaust Resource Center: http://www.yadvashem.org/yv/en/holocaust/resource_center/index.asp

United States Holocaust Memorial Museum: http://www.ushmm.org/

House of the Wannsee Conference: http://www.ghwk.de/gb

Online books and documents relating to the Holocaust:: www.holocaust-history.org

Indicative learning resources - Other resources

Exeter Electronic Library resources include: ProQuest Theses and Dissertations

Key journals for the module are available via JSTOR, Project Muse, Taylor & Francis, Cambridge Journals Online, Oxford Journals

Available as distance learning?


Origin date


Last revision date


Key words search

Holocaust; Jewish History, World War II