HST386/387: The Holocaust: The Destruction of European Jewry

40 credits (semesters 1 and 2)

Module Leader: Professor Bob Moore



A pass in at least two history modules at level two.


Module Summary

The aim of this module is to introduce students to the various debates on the origins and execution of the 'final solution' in Nazi occupied Europe during the Second World War. On completion of this module, students will have attained and demonstrated a satisfactory level of competence in the following areas. Firstly, an understanding of the main elements of holocaust history and a familiarity with the different methodological and historiographical debates engendered by historians over the last fifty years to explain the 'final solution'. Secondly, an ability to evaluate primary source material from the period (in translation), including film evidence where appropriate.


Teaching and Assessment

The module will be taught primarily through a seminar programme, but will also involve occasional lectures and presentations of audio-visual material.

The module is divided into three distinct sections. The first examines the origins of the Holocaust through a comparison of traditional German antisemitism with that preached by Hitler and the Nazi Movement before looking at the persecution of the Jews inside Germany in the period 1933-1939. This includes a discussion of the main antisemitic legislation and actions of the period (such as the Nuremberg Laws and the Reichskristallnacht) and focuses on the element of planning involved.

The second section deals with the crucial months between the end of 1939 and the autumn of 1941, the period which saw the beginnings of the ghettoisation and deportation of European Jewry. The main focus here is again on the development of policies directed against the Jews and the crucial question of when the decison to implement a concerted policy of physical extermination was taken.

The final part of the module deals with the execution of the 'final solution'. Apart from analysing the mechanics of the extermination process and the general question of why so many Jews fell victim to the extermination process, attention will also be given to the variations in policy which occurred and the differential rates of survival evident across Nazi-occupied Europe. This will involve comparative studies of perpetrators, victims and circumstances in which the deportation and extermination process was carried out, and include, for example, an examination of the role of local complicity in the identification and deportation of Jews, and the effects of resistance, both Jewish and non-Jewish, in influencing survival.

Further guidance is provided in the module course booklet, available through MOLE.

Information on assessment can be found at: http://www.sheffield.ac.uk/history/current_students/undergraduate/assessment/level3


Selected Reading

  • Saul Friedländer, The Years of Extermination: Nazi Germany and the Jews 1939-1945 (London: Weidenfeld, 2007)
  • Sybille Steinbacher, Auschwitz: A History (London, 2005)
  • Christopher Browning, The Origins of the Final Solution: The Evolution of Nazi Jewish Policy, September 1939 - March 1942 (London, 2005)
  • Peter Longerich, The Unwritten Order: Hitler's Role in the Final Solution (London, 2003)
  • Götz Aly, The Final Solution: Nazi Population Policy and the Murder of the European Jews (London, 1999)
  • Philippe Burrin, Hitler and the Jews: The Genesis of the Holocaust (London, 1994)
  • Lucy Dawidowicz, The War against the Jews (London, 1990)
  • Gerald Fleming, Hitler and the Final Solution (Oxford, 1986)
  • Saul Friedländer, Nazi Germany and the Jews (New York, 1997)
  • Raul Hilberg, The Destruction of the European Jews (New York, 1985)


Intended Learning Outcomes
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