Interpretation of the Holocaust (HIH3547)

StaffProfessor Richard Overy - Convenor
Credit Value30
ECTS Value15
NQF Level6
Pre-requisitesNormally 15 credits of History at level 1 or 2
Duration of Module Term 1: 11 weeks;

Module aims

This module is designed to introduce students to the differing historical approaches to the Holocaust, both differences in method (modernity theory, intentionalism, structural/functional explanations), and in perspective (victims, perpetrators, opponents, enablers). The module will take a number of key texts as the basis for analysis and discussion, including Lucy Dawidowicz, Daniel Goldhagen, Goetz Aly and Peter Longerich, as well as key eye-witness accounts - for example, diary of the Lodz Ghetto, and the Black Book of Russian Jewry.

ILO: Module-specific skills

  • 1. A detailed knowledge of the main themes in Comintern history, together with a very close knowledge of the areas selected for essay and presentation work
  • 2. Ability to trace the changing nature and approaches of the Comintern and Communist parties over the period

ILO: Discipline-specific skills

  • 3. Ability to analyse the key developments in a complex and alien political and social environment
  • 4. Ability to understand and deploy complex political terminology in a comprehensible manner
  • 5. Ability to handle profoundly different approaches to history in a deeply contested area

ILO: Personal and key skills

  • 6. Independent study and group work, including the presentaiton of material for group discussion, developed through the mode of learning
  • 7. Ability to digest, select and organise material to produce, to a deadline, a coherent and cogent argument, developed through the mode of assessment
  • 8. Ability to present arguments orally, and to work in a group

Syllabus plan

The topics to be covered will be as follows:
1. Introduction: interpretations of the Holocaust
2. Hitler's anti-Semitism: Mein Kampf
3. A War agains the Jews? Lucy Dawidowicz on the Holocaust
4. The Unwritten Order: intentionalists and the Holocaust
5. The Goldhagen controversy
6. Goetz Aly: a 'final solution' without anti-Semitism?
7. The Holocaust and the 'crisis of modernity'
8. When and why? the debate on timing
9. Jewish responses: victimhood and resistance
10. Many Holocausts? The debate on non-German perpetrators
11. The Holocaust in history: conclusions

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 Activities11Lectures (11x1hr)
Scheduled Learning and Teaching Activities22Seminars (11x2hr)
Guided independent study267Reading and preparation for seminars and presentations

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
Better of two essay marks252 x 2000 words1-8Verbal and written
Group presentation2530-40 minutes1-8Verbal and written
Unseen Examination502 questions in 2 hours1-8Written

Indicative learning resources - Basic reading

D Cesarani (ed), The Final Solution (Routledge, 1994)
A Cohen, The Shoah and the War (Peter Lang, 1992)
Daniel Goldhagen, Hitler's Willing Executioners (Abacus, 1997)
Goetz Aly, The Final Solution (Aarnold, 1999)
L. Dawidowicz, The War Against the Jews (Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 1975)
Z Bauman, Modernity and the Holocaust (Polity Press, 1989)
P Longerich, The Unwritten Order (Tempus, 2003)
C Browning, Ordinary Men (Harper Collins, 1992)
W Benz, The Holocaust (Profile, 2000)

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