Fall 2023 - HIST 401 D100

Problems in Modern German History (4)

The Holocaust

Class Number: 3527

Delivery Method: In Person


  • Course Times + Location:

    Sep 6 – Dec 5, 2023: Wed, 9:30 a.m.–12:20 p.m.

  • Prerequisites:

    45 units, including nine units of lower division history and one of HIST 224, 225, 332 or permission of the department.



An examination of major debates concerning the history of late-nineteenth and twentieth century Germany. Themes may include the nature of German modernity, interpretations of the Third Reich, or German memory after the Second World War. Content may vary from offering to offering; see course outline for further information. HIST 401 may be repeated for credit only when a different topic is taught.



URL: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Eingangstor_des_KZ_Auschwitz,_Arbeit_macht_frei_%282007%29.jpg

This seminar explores one of the seminal events of the modern era, the Holocaust. We will seek to answer four main questions over the semester: what conditions made the Holocaust possible? How was the Holocaust implemented? Where did the Holocaust happen? How has the Holocaust’s legacy evolved over time, and why is it important to learn about the subject today?

This genocide is a central part of modern German history, but its contours extend beyond Germany as well. As we examine the Holocaust, we will pay particular attention not only to its historical context but also to its geography: the physical places and spaces where the genocide was carried out, and where it is remembered. Other subjects we will explore include racism and antisemitism in Europe; the impact of the First World War’s violence and dehumanization on its participants; the rise of Nazism in Germany and legalized discrimination against Jews; the outbreak of the Second World War; deportation, ghettoization, and the evolution of a “final solution”; the relationship between war and genocide; the experience of the Holocaust as determined by gender and age; post-war attempts to deliver justice; public discussions of collective memory and memorialization; and the evolution of Holocaust and genocide studies as a field of study.


  • Participation (Includes reading responses) 25%
  • Geographies of the Holocaust Presentation 35%
  • Final Research Project 40%



  • Saul Friedländer, Nazi Germany and the Jews (abridged)
  • Primo Levi, The Drowned and the Saved (any edition)
  • Mariette Doduck, A Childhood Unspoken (2023) – to be supplied by the professor
  • Tim Cole, Holocaust Landscapes (2016)


Your personalized Course Material list, including digital and physical textbooks, are available through the SFU Bookstore website by simply entering your Computing ID at: shop.sfu.ca/course-materials/my-personalized-course-materials.

Registrar Notes:


SFU’s Academic Integrity website http://www.sfu.ca/students/academicintegrity.html is filled with information on what is meant by academic dishonesty, where you can find resources to help with your studies and the consequences of cheating. Check out the site for more information and videos that help explain the issues in plain English.

Each student is responsible for his or her conduct as it affects the university community. Academic dishonesty, in whatever form, is ultimately destructive of the values of the university. Furthermore, it is unfair and discouraging to the majority of students who pursue their studies honestly. Scholarly integrity is required of all members of the university. http://www.sfu.ca/policies/gazette/student/s10-01.html


Students with a faith background who may need accommodations during the semester are encouraged to assess their needs as soon as possible and review the Multifaith religious accommodations website. The page outlines ways they begin working toward an accommodation and ensure solutions can be reached in a timely fashion.