Fall 2021 - HIST 401 D100

Problems in Modern German History (4)

The Holocaust

Class Number: 4716

Delivery Method: In Person


  • Course Times + Location:

    Sep 8 – Dec 7, 2021: Mon, 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.


The Holocaust: Origins, Implementation, Legacy

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; 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; 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)

Knowles, Cole, Giordano (editors), Geographies of the Holocaust (available free online via the library)

Registrar Notes:


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Teaching at SFU in fall 2021 will involve primarily in-person instruction, with approximately 70 to 80 per cent of classes in person/on campus, with safety plans in place.  Whether your course will be in-person or through remote methods will be clearly identified in the schedule of classes.  You will also know at enrollment whether remote course components will be “live” (synchronous) or at your own pace (asynchronous).

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Students with hidden or visible disabilities who may need class or exam accommodations, including in the context of remote learning, are advised to register with the SFU Centre for Accessible Learning (caladmin@sfu.ca or 778-782-3112) as early as possible in order to prepare for the fall 2021 term.