Spring 2017 - HIST 338 D100

World War II (4)

Class Number: 3963

Delivery Method: In Person


  • Course Times + Location:

    Tu 11:30 AM – 2:20 PM
    AQ 5030, Burnaby

  • Instructor:

    Lauren Rossi
    Office: AQ 6233
  • Prerequisites:

    45 units, including six units of lower division history. Recommended: HIST 225.



An introduction to the history of the origins and course of the second world war.


The Second World War: The Human Cost of Total War

“I ask you: do you want total war? Do you want it, if need be, even more total and radical than we are capable of imagining it today?” (Joseph Goebbels’ Total War Speech, 18 February 1943

The Second World War was a conflagration that touched all continents, devastated entire countries, and left millions dead and displaced, sometimes permanently. Its destruction was so pervasive that it renewed the international community’s commitment to a United Nations and ushered in the era of relative peace that continues today – no general European or world war has broken out since 1945. This commitment was underscored by the human experience of total war, which was effectively, and lethally, implemented by various belligerent countries between 1931 and 1945. This course examines the concept of total war, how different countries attempted to achieve a total-war economy leading up to and during the military confrontation, how the war affected both combatants and non-combatants in diverse theatres, and the ways that total war lent itself to the perpetration of atrocities in both Europe and Asia.

Please note: this is NOT a thirteen-week military history of World War II. While some key operations and battles will be discussed, the focus is the social (i.e. human) impact of war – soldiers and civilians are the subject, not military strategy and tactics.


  • Participation 10%
  • Tutorial Presentations – 15% each (x2) 30%
  • Short Paper 20%
  • Final Research Paper 40%



Michael Geyer and Adam Tooze, editors, Cambridge History of the Second World War, Volume 3: Total War: Economy, Society, and Culture (2015) (available online via SFU library)

Mark Mazower, Hitler’s Empire: How the Nazis Ruled Europe (2009)

Lizzie Collingham, The Taste of War: World War II and the Battle for Food (2013)

  Ian W. Toll, The Conquering Tide: War in the Pacific Islands, 1942-1944 (2016)

Registrar Notes:

SFU’s Academic Integrity web site http://students.sfu.ca/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