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Course Description

The Holocaust and Politics (3 cr)
Jack Bielasiak
POLS-Y 352 (31474)
TR 1:00-2:15 (Student Building 150)

The course examines Nazi Germany's systematic attempt to exterminate the Jews of Europe and other “undesirable” populations during the Second World War.   The focus is on the perpetrators of the crimes, on the victims and intended victims, and on the local and international bystanders.

The first part of the course centers on the ideological arguments and political actions concerning the "Jewish Question" and “life unworthy,” and the evolution of decisions towards the Final Solution.  The second part addresses the question of political responses to the annihilation by perpetrators, victims, and bystanders, as well as the issue of responsibility, domestic and international. The final section deals with the legacy of the Holocaust on post-war political world and its impact on humanity.

The content of the course presents each of us with an emotional, painful experience that must be harnessed for reasoned understanding.  To that end, we will use a variety of sources, academic studies and survivors' testimonies, documentary and fictional accounts, films and poems.  Class requirements include exams, in-class quizzes, and assignments that go beyond the typical to personalize the issues through reaction essays or first-person responses.