The George Washington University
History 159: The Holocaust
Spring 2004

Professor Marc Saperstein

Analyzes the origins, causes, implementation and significance of the Nazi attempt to destroy European Jewry, within the context of European and Jewish history. Related themes: the behavior of persecutors, victims, and bystanders; literary responses; contemporary implications of the Holocaust for religion and politics.

This course is being offered in conjunction with Blackboard. More detailed information about individual sessions, including a breakdown of readings for each day, links for additional resources, additional bibliography, and a chat room for discussing issues pertaining to the course, will be available.


Required Texts (in bookstore):

Yehudah Bauer, A History of the Holocaust (revised edition)

Lucy S. Dawidowicz, A Holocaust Reader

Donald L. Niewyk, ed., The Holocaust (third edition)

Albert H. Friedlander, ed., Out of the Whirlwind: A Reader of Holocaust Literature (revised and expanded edition)

Joachim Remak, ed., The Nazi Years: A Documentary History [optional]


The class will meet Tuesdays and Thursdays from 11:00 A.M. - 12:15 P.M. Most sessions will be divided between lecture and discussion, based on primary sources. Starred material * under Readings should be brought to class.


Course Outline:

Jan 13: Introduction to the Course

Jan 15: The Legacy of Christian Anti-Judaism


Bauer, pp. 15- 35

Niewyk, 12- 24

2 Letters by Innocent III (links on Blackboard)

Jan 20: The Emergence of Modern Anti-Semitism


Bauer 36- 60

Dawidowicz, pp. 28-30

*von Treitschke, "A Word About Our Jewry," from The Jew in the Modern World, pp. 280- 83 - E-reserve: print and bring to class.

Jan 22: Modern Anti-Semitism and Racism


*"The Rabbi’s Speech" and "Protocols of the Elders of Zion," from The Jew in the Modern World, pp. 292-99 – E-reserve: print and bring to class.

Niewyk, 39- 50

Recommended: Remak, pp. 1- 15.

Jan 27: "The Great War" and Its Aftermath; Hitler


Bauer, pp. 61- 93

Dawidowicz, pp. 30-33

Niewyk. pp. 24- 30

*"Hitler’s First Antisemitic Writing" (link on Blackboard)

Recommended: Remak, pp. 17-24, 32-34, 107-11

Jan 29: The Nazi Party and Its Accession to Power


*Passage from Mein Kampf in The Jew in the Modern World, pp. 484-87 (includes Hitler’s 1919 Letter) (E-reserve) – this is the passage on which the written exercise is based (see below).

Bauer, pp. 93- 100

Recommended: Remak, pp. 24-32, 34-47

Jan 31: First written exercise (3-4 pages) on Mein Kampf passage due in class. This will not be accepted late. See "Notes" on this assignment in Blackboard.

Feb 3: Hitler's Consolidation of Power, 1933–1939


Bauer, pp. 101- 106

Friedlander, 84-103

Recommended: Remak, pp. 49-91, 111-15

Feb 5: German Jewry under Hitler, 1933–1939


Bauer, pp. 106- 42

*Dawidowicz, pp. 35- 53, 150- 70

USHMM web site on Kristalnacht (link on Blackboard)

Recommended: Remak, 146- 51

Feb 10: Being a Jew in Nazi Germany, 1933- 1939 (Guest Instructor: Prof. Max Ticktin)


*Friedlander, (84-103), 119-32, 309-29

Feb 12: Polish Jewry before the War


Bauer, pp. 150- 53

Friedlander, 133- 54

Feb 17: War and the "Jewish Problem," 1939–1941


Bauer, pp. 153- 71, 383- 85

*Dawidowicz, pp. 55-82

Recommended: Remak, pp. 116-28

Feb 19: The East European Ghettos: An Overview


Bauer, pp. 183- 208

Dawidowicz, pp. 171- 76, 179- 81, 193- 207, 218- 33

Friedlander, 181- 91

Website on the Lodz ghetto (link on Blackboard) -- Check the resources this site contains.

Feb 24: East European Ghettos: The Councils (Judenräte)


Bauer, pp. 171- 82

*Dawidowicz, pp. 235-58

Niewyk, pp. 163- 72

Second written exercise (3-4 pages) on Czerniakow's Diary selection (in Dawidowicz, 240-58), due in class. This will not be accepted late.

Feb 26: Massacres in the Baltics and USSR (June-December, 1941)


Bauer, pp. 209-19

*Dawidowicz, pp. 83-97 - Bring to class.

*Pages from the "Jager Report" (E-reserve) - Print and bring to class

Website on Einsatzgruppen (link on Blackboard) - Look through the site for a few moments. It contains extensive background material and documents including the day by day situation reports.

Mar 2: Deportations from the Ghettos, 1942


Bauer, pp. 220- 27

*Dawidowicz, pp. 98-104, 289-316

Niewyk, pp. 30- 38, 50-55, 172

Friedlander, 160- 80

March 4: Camps of Extermination and Slave Labor:


Bauer, pp. 227- 47

*Dawidowicz, pp. 104- 19

From the Diary of Dr. Johann Paul Kremer, SS (Link on Blackboard): An SS physician observing his first gassings in Auschwitz

Recommended: Remak, pp. 157- 59

March 9: The Experience of Living in Auschwitz


*Friedlander, 192- 258, 400- 11, 560- 65

March 11: Psychology of the Perpetrators


*Dawidowicz, 130- 40

*from Hoess autobiography, in The Jew in the Modern World, 515-19 - E-reserve: print and bring to class.

Review Bauer, 383- 85

Niewyk, 57- 103

Recommended: Remak, 155- 57

March 11: Third written exercise (3- 4 pages) on Himmler passage (Dawidowicz, 130- 40), is due in class. This will not be accepted late.

March 14- 21: Spring Recess

March 23: Psychology of the Victims


Niewyk, 105- 36

Friedlander, 26-67

Recommended: "On the Reliability of the Hoess Memoir" (link on Blackboard)

March 25: The Problem of Resistance


Bauer, 266- 306

*Dawidowicz, 329- 40, 347- 80, 120- 30

Niewyk, 142- 47, 172- 76

Recommended: *Remak, 161- 76

March 30: Psychology of the Bystanders


Niewyk, 179- 231

Friedlander, 288- 308, 353- 70

Recommended: Remak, pp. 91- 92

Apr 1: "Auschwitz and the Allies"


Bauer, 307- 331

*Dawidowicz, 316- 21

Friedlander, 353- 70

Niewyk, 233- 47, 260- 73

Apr 6: No Meeting -- First Day of Pesach

Apr 8: The Role of the Churches


Bauer, 142- 46

Niewyk, 248- 60

Remak, 93- 105

Roberta Katz, "Pius XII Protests the Holocaust," in Robert Cowley, ed., What If? 2, pp. 317- 332 (e-reserve)

Marc Saperstein, review of Daniel Goldhagen’s A Moral Reckoning (link on Blackboard)

Apr 13: Hungarian Jewry


Bauer, 332- 56

*Davidowicz, 321- 27, review 110- 19

Apr 15: Death Marches, Liberation, "The Road Back"


Bauer, 356- 61

Friedlander, 418- 50, 560- 65

April 20: Literature of the Holocaust


*Friedlander, 3- 9, 371- 89, 575-86

Apr 22: Philosophical, Theological, Religious Dimensions


Bauer, 361- 66

Friedlander, 390- 99, 465- 76, 493- 521

Critique of Holocaust Documentary Due in Class

Apr 27: The Holocaust in Historical Memory; Contemporary Uses and Misuses


Bauer, 366- 82

Friedlander, 451- 57


Instructor's Office Hours are Mondays from 2- 3:30 and Thursdays from 3:30- 5:00 at 2142 G Street (Judaic Studies Building). Students are urged to take advantage of this opportunity to come and discuss matters arising from the material of the course.

In order to receive accommodations on the basis of disability, students with special needs must give notice and provide proper documentation to the Office of Disability Support Services, Marvin Center 436, 994-8250



1. As indicated above, there will be three brief written exercises, each analyzing a specific historical document and 3- 4 pages in length, due in class on January 29, February 24, and March 11. As the texts to be analyzed in the exercises will be discussed at these class meetings, THE EXERCISES WILL NOT BE ACCEPTED AFTER THE MEETING AT WHICH THEY ARE DUE. (45%, 15% each)

2. The final written exercise, is to be a critical review (approximately 6 pages) of a Holocaust-related documentary film from the "Jewish Heritage Video Collection" in Gelman (to the left of the Media Resources Desk), which you may view at any time during the course (though I urge you not to leave it until the final week) in Suite BO1 (The Viewing/Listening Room). Recommended possibilities: "Lodz Ghetto," "Partisans of Vilna," "Genocide 1941-45," "Kitty: A Return to Auschwitz," "Danzig 1939," "Weapons of the Spirit," "Shoah" (any 1 of the 5 videotapes), or (not in Gelman, but if you can get a video-tape) "The Last Days," and "Hiding and Seeking: Faith and Tolerance After the Holocaust," by Menachem Daum. How does it relate to the material of the course; what did you learn from it that enriched your understanding of the Holocaust; what advantage does it have (if any) over written texts (primary sources and secondary works); what are its strengths and weaknesses as a documentary? (20%)


4. Attendance, preparation, and informed participation in class discussions. (5%)


Material for Electronic Reserve

Session 3: January 20, *von Treitschke, from The Jew in the Modern World, pp. 280-83

Session 4: January 22, *"The Rabbi’s Speech" and "Protocols of the Elders of Zion," from The Jew in the Modern World, pp. 292-99

Session 6: January 29, *Passage from Hitler’s Mein Kampf, from The Jew in the Modern World, pp. 484-87

Session 13: February 26, "The Jager Report." from "The Good Old Days," pp. 46–58

Session 17: March 11, Rudolph Hoess’s Autobiography, from The Jew in the Modern World, pp. 515-19

Session 22: April 8, Robert Katz, "Pius XII Protests the Holocaust," in Robert Cowley, ed., What If? 2, pp. 317- 332