History 3310Y / 4310Y Oshawa

The Nazi Holocaust
Trent University, Thornton Road Campus, 2014-15

Professor Robert Wright

Office: Thornton 167   Email: rawright@trentu.ca   Tel: 905 435 5102 x 5046
Room 115

Office Hours: Mondays, noon - 2 p.m., or by appointment.

Department of History
1600 West Bank Drive, LEC, Peterborough, ON K9J 7B8
(705) 748-1011, history@trentu.ca

Secretary: Hailey Wright 905 435 5102 x 5006 

This version of the syllabus was posted on 22 January 2015.

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Course Description

History 3310Y/4310Y explores the Nazi Holocaust and its implications for modern culture.

Course Format

History 3310Y/4310Y will meet as a seminar weekly, between 9 a.m. and noon on Wednesdays.  Each student will be expected to make one seminar presentation, to a maximum of 20 minutes' duration, in which s/he will assess critically the week's designated readings.  These presentations will serve as a springboard for a general discussion with all members of the seminar.  Click here for Wright's tips on seminar preparation.  Non-presenting students will be expected to read and reflect on assigned readings and to come to class prepared to discuss them critically.  Students' participation grades will be based on the quality of their contributions, not the quantity.  Participation grading will be consistent with Trent University standards for academic integrity, professionalism and accountability.  Insofar as seminar participation represents a significant proportion of students' overall grade in the course, the importance of regular attendance should be underscored.

Learning Outcomes

As a cross-listed third- and fourth-year seminar course, History  3310Y/4310Y provides students with the opportunity to explore the Nazi Holocaust in depth, both through class discussion of scholarship in the field and through advanced independent research.  Students should be able to use their advanced knowledge of the field and skills in critical thinking, historical writing, historical approaches and methodologies to conduct research using primary and secondary sources, produce an original analytical argument based on the evidence, and situate it in the appropriate historiographical and theoretical contexts.  Students should be able to communicate their arguments to the instructor and their peers with clarity, accuracy, and logic through major research papers and class presentations.  Upon completing the course successfully, students should understand the conventions of historical writing, the rules of academic integrity and professionalism, the importance of personal initiative and accountability, and the evolving nature of historical knowledge.  They should also be able to evaluate historical writing effectively through examinations of sources, arguments, and methodologies.

Course Evaluation
Review prospectus

0   %
Due 29 October 2014
Book review 

15 % Due 26 November 2014
Research prospectus

10 % Due 28 January 2015
Research paper

45 % Due 20 March 2015
Seminar participation
20 %
Seminar presentation

10 %

Selected chapters of the following books will be required reading in History  3310Y/4310Y.  Note: books listed as required readings are not required purchases.  Copies of all required readings not available online will be placed on reserve at the Trent Library at the Thornton Road campus, so if you lack either the resources or the inclination to purchase these books, there will be other ways of keeping up with your readings.
Browning, Christopher R.  Ordinary Men: Reserve Police Battalion 101 and the Final Solution in Poland.  New York: HarperCollins, 1992.  ISBN 9780060995065.  Buy it newBuy a used copy.

Finkelstein, Norman G.  The Holocaust Industry: Reflections on the Exploitation of Jewish Suffering.  New York: Verso, 2001.  ISBN 9781859847732.  Buy it newBuy a used copy.

Levi, Primo.  Survival in Auschwitz: The Nazi Assault on Humanity.  New York: Collins, 1961.  ISBN 9780684826806.  Buy it newBuy a used copy.

Nyiszli, Miklos.  Auschwitz.  New York: Arcade 1993; originally published in 1960.  ISBN 9781559702027.  Buy it newBuy a used copy.

Wistrich, Robert S.  Hitler and the Holocaust.   New York: Modern Library, 2002.  ISBN 9780812968637.  Buy it newBuy a used copy.
All other required readings in this course take the form of scholarly articles, which can be accessed online.

Review Essay

The first written assignment will be a critical review essay, i.e. a review of three or four related scholarly books.  The total number of book pages under review should be approximately 800.

Note: a book review is not a book report.  The purpose of a review or review essay is not merely to describe the contents of books in narrative form but to analyze the strengths and weaknesses of books, to estimate their contribution(s) to knowledge, to assess their relationship to each other and to the scholarly field in question, and to provide an opinion to their prospective readers of their general worth.  Click here for Wright's tips on writing book reviews.  Click here to read a sample review essay.

A review prospectus will be required, containing a full bibliographic citation for each of the books you plan to review.  At least two of the books should bear an imprint (publishing date) from the 2000s.  Books listed as required readings for this course are ineligible for review.  The review prospectus will not be graded but it must be submitted in advance of the review essay.  The review essay must conform to the book list as selected by the student and as "customized" by the student and the instructor.  If it does not, the student will receive a grade of zero on the review essay.

Fourth-year students will be held to a higher standard of writing and analysis than third-year students.

Both the review prospectus and the review essay should be submitted via email. Click here for Wright's formatting guidelines for electronic submissions.

Length: 2000 words for History 3310Y; 3000 words for History 4310Y.

Due dates: review prospectus 29 October 2014; review 26 November 2014.

Research Paper

The research paper has been conceived with two primary objectives in mind.  The first is to acquaint students more closely than has been the case thus far with the scholarly literature in an area of historical study which is of special interest to the student.  The second is to acquaint students with some of the processes by which historians conduct original research.
Students may select topics of their own choice, with the proviso that each student must submit a prospectus in advance of her/his essay, in which s/he must specify the nature and scope of her/his topic, as well as the resources s/he plans to use.  A thorough prospectus will include a short synopsis of a student's aims, as well as a bibliography of sources.
The purpose of the prospectus is two-fold: it will allow the instructor to consider the proposal of the student and to make specific recommendations about sources and approaches that might be used (thus creating between student and instructor a "customized" topic); and it will provide a medium by which the student and the instructor can maintain close contact about the progress of the research.
The prospectus will be graded and must, therefore, be submitted in advance of the research paper.  The paper must conform to the topic as selected by the student and as "customized" by the student and the instructor.  If it does not, the student will receive a grade of zero on both the prospectus and the paper.
Both the research prospectus and the research paper should be submitted via emailClick here for instructions on formatting and emailing assignments. Click here for some tips on writing essays.  Fourth-year students will be held to a higher standard of writing and analysis than third-year students.  Third-year students must utilize a minimum of twelve scholarly sources; fourth-year students must utilize a minimum of fifteen scholarly sources.
Length: 4000 words for History 3310Y; 6000 words for History 4310Y.
Due dates: research prospectus 28 January 2015; research paper 20 March 2015.

Final Examination
There will be no examinations in this course.

Late Policy
There will be no penalties for late submissions, but students will not be granted extensions beyond 3 April 2015 without official (e.g. medical) documentation.

Academic Integrity

Academic dishonesty, which includes plagiarism and cheating, is an extremely serious academic offence and carries penalties varying from a 0 grade on an assignment to expulsion from the University.  Definitions, penalties, and procedures for dealing with plagiarism and cheating are set out in Trent University’s Academic Integrity Policy. You have a responsibility to educate yourself – unfamiliarity with the policy is not an excuse. You are strongly encouraged to visit Trent’s Academic Integrity website to learn more.

For Wright's policy on plagiarism, click here.

Access to Instruction

It is Trent University's intent to create an inclusive learning environment.  If a Trent Oshawa student has a disability and/or health consideration and feels that he/she may need accommodations to succeed in this course, s/he should visit the Disability Services Office at Room 111 or call (905) 435-5100. 

Dropping Courses
Please see the Trent University Academic Calendar for University Diary dates, Academic Information and Regulations, and University and departmental degree requirements.


10 September
Seminar: Introduction to the course.
Student responsibilities before next class:

1.  If you have not already done so, email me with your preferred email address.  Place your name and course number in the subject field exactly like this:

Jones, Stephen  HIST 4310

2.  Short-list at least three seminars you would be willing to present.  Do not email me with your selections.  We will assign each student one presentation in class.

17 September
Film: The Architecture of Doom.
Seminar: Discussion of film.

24 September
Seminar: Background.  Presentation: Megan & Kaitlyn W.
Required reading: Robert S. Wistrich, Hitler and the Holocaust. 

1 October
Seminar: No Hitler, No Holocaust?  Presentation: Meghan & Caitlin
Required readings: Adolf Hitler, Mein Kampf (1927), Chapter 2 “Years of Study and Suffering In Vienna,"; and Andrew Donson, "Why did German Youth become Fascists? Nationalist Males Born 1900 to 1908 in War and Revolution" Social History 31:3 (August 2006), 337-358.

8 October
NB: For today's seminar only, we will meet in Room 106.

Seminar: Eugenics.  Presentation: Josh 
Required reading: Jackson Spielvogel & David Redles, "Hitler's Racial Ideology" Simon Wiesenthal Center Annual  3 (1997); Todd M. Endelman, "Anglo-Jewish Scientists and the Science of Race" Jewish Social Studies 11:1 (Fall 2004), 52–92; and Ian Dowbiggin, "A Rational Coalition: Euthanasia, Eugenics, and Birth Control in America, 1940–1970" Journal of Policy History 14:3 (2002), 223-260.

15  October
Seminar: Concentration Camps & Resistance.  Presentation: Kaitlyn K.
Required readings: Aime Bonifas, "A Paradisical Ghetto of Theresienstadt: The Impossible Mission of the International Committee" Journal of Church & State 34:4 (Autumn 1992), 805-819; Joan Miriam Ringelheim, “The Unethical and the Unspeakable: Women and the Holocaust” Simon Wiesenthal Center Annual 1 (1997); and Aaron Kramer, "Creative Defiance in a Death-Camp" Journal of Humanistic Psychology 38:1 (Winter 1998).  Kramer writes: "The most stunning example at Terezin - and perhaps in all history - of cultural defiance is offered by Peter Kien and Viktor Ullmann, who created The Emperor of Atlantis."  To listen to a portion of this extraordinary opera, click here.

22 October.  Reading Week.

29 October
Review prospectus due via emailClick here for instructions on formatting and emailing assignments.
Seminar: Ordinary Women.  Presentation: Crystal
Required readings: Suzanne Ost, "Doctors and Nurses of Death: A Case Study of Eugenically Motivated Killing under the Nazi ‘Euthanasia’ Programme" Liverpool Law Review 27:5 (Spring 2006), 5-30; Susan Benedict, Arthur Caplan & Traute Lafrenz Page, “Duty And ‘Euthanasia’: The Nurses of Meseritz-Obrawalde” Nursing Ethics 14:6 (2007), 781-794; and Susan Benedict and Jane M. Georges, “Nurses and the Sterilization Experiments of Auschwitz: A Postmodernist Perspective” Nursing Inquiry 13:4 (2006), 277-288.

5 November
Seminar: Ordinary Men.  Presentation: Aidan
Required reading: Christopher R. Browning, Ordinary Men.

12 November
Film: ConspiracyNB: We'll start the film at 9:15 a.m.
Seminar: Discussion of film.

19 November
Seminar: Auschwitz I.  Presentation: Andrew
Required reading: Miklos Nyiszli, Auschwitz.

26 November
Review essay due via emailClick here for instructions on formatting and emailing assignments.
Film: The Grey Zone.
Seminar: Discussion of film.

Mid-Year Holiday.  No classes.

7 January
Seminar: Auschwitz II.  Presentation: Tony
Required reading: Primo Levi, Survival in Auschwitz.

14 January
Seminar: German Bureaucracy & Industry.  Presentation: Drew
Required readings: Hans Sherrer, "The Inhumanity of Government Bureaucracies" Independent Review 5:2 (Fall 2000), 249-65; Michael Thad Allen, "The Banality of Evil Reconsidered: SS Mid-Level Managers of Extermination through Work" Central European History 30:2 (1997), 253-294; and Gerald D. Feldman, "The Economics of the Final Solution” Australian Journal of Politics and History 53:1 (2007), 57-67.

21 January
Seminar: Ethics.
Required readings: Robert S. Pozos, "Nazi Hypothermia Research: Should the Data be Used?" Military Medical Ethics 2 (2003), 437-461; Robert N. Proctor, "Nazi Science And Nazi Medical Ethics: Some Myths And Misconceptions" Perspectives in Biology and Medicine 43:3 (Spring 2000), 335-346; and Warren T. Reich, "The Care-Based Ethic of Nazi Medicine and the Moral Importance of What We Care About" American Journal of Bioethics 1:1 (Winter 2001), 64-74.

28 January 
Research prospectus due via emailClick here for instructions on formatting and emailing assignments.
Seminar: The Holocaust in Popular Culture and Americanization.  Presentation: Nick
Required readings: J. John Lennon & Malcolm Foley, "Interpretation of the Unimaginable: The U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, Washington, D.C., and Dark Tourism" Journal of Travel Research 38:1 (August 1999), 46-51; Geoff Eley & Atina Grossmann, "Watching Schindler's List: Not the Last Word" New German Critique 71 (Spring/ Summer 1997), 41-63; Jon Stratton, "Thinking Through the Holocaust" Continuum: Journal of Media & Cultural Studies 14:2 (July 2000), 231-246; and Kerstin von Lingen, "Conspiracy of Silence: How the 'Old Boys' of American Intelligence Shielded SS General Karl Wolff from Prosecution" Holocaust and Genocide Studies 22:1 (Spring 2008), 74-109.  Remember to watch Schindler's List prior to this seminar.

4 February
Seminar: History, Memory, Reparation.  Presentation: Bianca
Required readings / viewing: Raphael Gross, "Relegating Nazism to the Past: Expressions of German Guilt in 1945 and Beyond" German History 25:2 (2007), 219-238; John Torpey, “Making Whole What Has Been Smashed: Reflections On Reparations” Journal of Modern History 73:2 (June 2001), 333-359; and "Traudl Junge Interview" (video).

18 February.  Reading Week.

25 February
Seminar: Denial & Neo-Nazism.  Presentation: Jesse
Required readings: Brian Levin, "History as a Weapon" American Behavioral Scientist 44:6 (February 2001), 1001-1032; Abby L. Ferber, "Of Mongrels and Jews: The Deconstruction of Racialised Identities in White Supremacist Discourse" Social Identities 3:2 (June 1997), 193-209; and Lee McGowan, "Much More Than a Phantom Menace! Assessing the Character, Level and Threat of Neo-Nazi Violence in Germany, 1977–2003" Journal of Contemporary European Studies 14:2 (August 2006), 255-272.

4 March
Seminar: Rwanda.  Presentation: Philip
Required readings: Helen M. Hintjens, "Explaining the 1994 Genocide in Rwanda" Journal of Modern African Studies 37:2 (June, 1999), 241-286; and Alan J. Kuperman, "Rwanda in Retrospect" Foreign Affairs 79:1 (January/ February 2000), 94-118.

11 March
Private meetings to discuss the progress of student research.
Required readings: none.

18 March
Private meetings to discuss the progress of student research.
Required readings: none.

20 March
Research paper due via emailClick here for instructions on formatting and emailing assignments.

25 March
Seminar: The Holocaust Industry.  Presentation: Jolene
Required reading: Norman G. Finkelstein, The Holocaust Industry.

3 April 2015, 11:59 p.m.
Departmental deadline.  If you need an extension beyond this date, you will require medical or other official documentation.