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Unit information: The Holocaust - History and Legacy in 2018/19

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Unit name The Holocaust - History and Legacy
Unit code POLI30016
Credit points 20
Level of study H/6
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 2 (weeks 13 - 24)
Unit director Dr. Michel
Open unit status Not open




School/department School of Sociology, Politics and International Studies
Faculty Faculty of Social Sciences and Law


The unit provides an in-depth analysis of the various stages, policies and consequences of the genocidal policies of Nazi Germany. The unit explores the rise of a biocratic system in which the intersection of political, social and economic factors drove the persecution of various victim groups during the 12 year reign of the Nazi regime. Starting with the persecution of political opponents and the T4 euthanasia programme, the unit centres on the escalating policies targeting the Jewish population in Europe. It uses socio-psychological, sociological and strategic approaches to investigate the motivations and intentions of different perpetrator groups.

In the second part, the unit discusses the legacies of the Holocaust specifically for international politics. Themes will include an evaluation of the legal regime against genocide in the aftermath of WWII and the question of prevention and intervention in cases of extreme political violence.

The unit will also include a visit at the Wiener Library in London including a 2h workshop.

The unit specifically aims at:

  • introducing students to the various facets of Nazi policies and their origins
  • familiarising students with the political, social and economic dimensions of the Holocaust
  • familiarising students with the main explanatory approaches to perpetrator behaviour
  • demonstrating the continuing legacies of the Holocaust in international politics

Intended learning outcomes

On successful completion of the unit, students will be able to:

  • demonstrate an understanding of the construction of the various victim groups persecuted by the Nazi regime
  • demonstrate an understanding of the intersection of political, social and economic factors driving the genocidal policies of Nazi Germany
  • critically evaluate socio-psychological, macro-sociological and strategic approaches to explaining Nazi policies

Teaching details

1h lecture and a 2h seminar per week

Assessment Details

1500 word essay (25%) – assesses all ILOs

3000 word essay (75%) – assesses all ILOs

Reading and References

  • Christopher Browning, The Origins of the Final Solution. The Evolution of Nazi Jewish Policy 1939-1942, Jerusalem: Yad Vashem, 2004.
  • Peter Longerich, Holocaust. The Nazi Persecution of the Jews, Oxford: oxford University Press, 2010.
  • Yitzhak Arad, Belzec, Sobibor, Treblinka. The Operation Reinhard Death Camps, Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1999.
  • Saul Friedlaender, Nazi Germanty and the Jews. 1933-1945 (abridged version), London: Phoenix, 2009.
  • Raul Hilberg, The Destruction of the European Jews, New York: Holmes & Meier, 1985.
  • Omer Bartov (ed.), The Holocaust. Origins, Implementation, Aftermath, London: Routledge, 2015.