The Holocaust and Jewish Cultural Destruction

Course NameThe Holocaust and Jewish Cultural Destruction
Course CodeHIS338
DescriptionThe course offers an introduction to the Holocaust and the impact the genocide has had upon Europe’s Jewish population. As we are studying the topic in Prague, the course will largely adopt a central and eastern European focus, developing from an initial historical survey of the once significant Jewish presence in this region. Recognising the cultural contribution Jewish people have made in this region – ranging from the assimilated classes of Germany and Bohemia (Czech lands), to the orthodox settlements of eastern Poland, Ukraine and the Baltic States – the course will follow the evolution of European anti-Semitism to the radical exterminatory position towards Jews adopted by Nazi Germany and its allies during the Second World War. Students will be introduced to the central and core issues concerning historical and methodological approaches to the Holocaust. Time shall be given to the chronology, geographical scope, regional differences, plus the actions and responses of perpetrators, victims and bystanders. Post-Holocaust, the course will offer an analysis of the cultural destruction experienced by European Jewish communities. Special attention will be given to the differences between western European nations and those of the communist Eastern-bloc countries, as well as to Jewish theological responses to the Holocaust, the influence of Israel, and the re-emergence of Jewish culture in central and eastern Europe during post-1989 democratic years. The course will end with a discussion about whether the ‘Holocaust’ was a uniquely Jewish tragedy, addressing this controversial issue through the study and analysis of testimony, literature, film and music. Throughout the course, a secondary though essential concern will be devoted to addressing the question of ‘Auschwitz’, in regard to the impact this one significant element in the destruction of European Jewry has had upon Holocaust memory, education and remembrance in today’s world
Learning OutcomesUpon completion of this course, students will be able to:
– Appreciate the contribution of Jewish civilisation to central & east European society;
– Comprehend the main reasons behind, as well as the growth and development of anti-Semitism in Europe, whilst also recognising the disparate aspects of politicised racism endorsed by Nazi Germany;
– Realise the uniqueness of the Holocaust as a historical event;
– Know the key stages and sociohistorical factors in the evolution of genocide from 1941 – 1945;
– Understand the destructive impact of the Holocaust upon post-war, communist-era and present-day Jewish society in central & east Europe;
– Recognise the complexity of collective memory and acknowledge the positive/negative impact media, literature and film has upon understanding the Holocaust;
– Address the question of ‘Jewish destruction’ in the context of universal suffering wrought in Europe during the World War II period and its aftermath;
– Begin to understand the concept of ‘Holocaust industry’ and the misuse of the Holocaust in the global political sphere;
– Be familiar with the difficulties created by Auschwitz-centric narratives in regard to understanding the complexity of the Holocaust.
SchoolSchool of Humanities & Social Sciences
Number of credits (US / ECTS)3 US / 6 ECTS