The Holocaust: The Destruction of European Jewry

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About this course: The Holocaust: The Destruction of European Jewry is an adaptation of an on-campus course that has been co-taught by Murray Baumgarten, Distinguished Professor of English and Comparative Literature (Literature Department), and Peter Kenez, Professor Emeritus (History Department), for over 20 years at UC Santa Cruz. In this course, you will explore the Holocaust from the overlapping perspectives of literature and history—through memoirs, historical documents, poetry, documentary footage, filmic representations, and novels. You will expand your knowledge of the literature of the Holocaust, Eastern and Western European Jewish communities, the origins and development of an…

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When you enroll for courses through Coursera you get to choose for a paid plan or for a free plan

  • Free plan: No certicification and/or audit only. You will have access to all course materials except graded items.
  • Paid plan: Commit to earning a Certificate—it's a trusted, shareable way to showcase your new skills.

About this course: The Holocaust: The Destruction of European Jewry is an adaptation of an on-campus course that has been co-taught by Murray Baumgarten, Distinguished Professor of English and Comparative Literature (Literature Department), and Peter Kenez, Professor Emeritus (History Department), for over 20 years at UC Santa Cruz. In this course, you will explore the Holocaust from the overlapping perspectives of literature and history—through memoirs, historical documents, poetry, documentary footage, filmic representations, and novels. You will expand your knowledge of the literature of the Holocaust, Eastern and Western European Jewish communities, the origins and development of antisemitism, the establishment of labor and extermination camps, resistance movements, and the Holocaust as a problem for world history. There is more than one way to take this course: You can complete all of the activities (and earn a Verified Certificate) or only the activities that are most interesting to you. Whatever you choose to do, we encourage you to find a havruta (a study partner) in your community or in the Coursera community so that you can experience the course in a more interactive and meaningful way.

Created by:  University of California, Santa Cruz
  • Taught by:  Murray Baumgarten, Distinguished Professor of English & Comparative Literature

    Literature
  • Taught by:  Peter Kenez, Professor Emeritus

    History
Language English How To Pass Pass all graded assignments to complete the course. User Ratings 4.6 stars Average User Rating 4.6See what learners said Coursework

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Syllabus


WEEK 1


Who were the Jews?



This module is an introduction to the study of the Holocaust and a prehistory of the Holocaust. Profs. Baumgarten and Kenez discuss the roots of modern antisemitism, the culture of European Jews in the 19th century, Nehama Tec’s Dry Tears, and the various genres of Holocaust literature. The module also contains general information about the course.


13 videos, 7 readings expand


  1. Reading: Description
  2. Reading: Books and films
  3. Reading: Writing assignments
  4. Reading: Acknowledgements
  5. Reading: 1.0.1 Topics, readings, and films
  6. Video: 1.1.1 Introductions
  7. Video: 1.1.2 Who were the Jews?
  8. Video: 1.1.3 Why do we study the Holocaust?
  9. Video: 1.1.4 Poetry and perspectives
  10. Reading: 1.1.5 Written in Pencil in the Sealed Railway-Car (English translation)
  11. Video: 1.2.1 Western European Jewry in the 19th century
  12. Video: 1.2.2 Jewish success and European antisemitism
  13. Video: 1.2.3 Jews in French society
  14. Video: 1.2.4 Roots of modern antisemitism
  15. Video: 1.2.5 Theodor Herzl
  16. Video: 1.3.1 Expectations of reality
  17. Video: 1.3.2 Hier ist kein warum
  18. Video: 1.3.3 Yiddish culture
  19. Video: 1.3.4 On Account of a Hat
  20. Reading: 1.3.5 On Account of a Hat (English translation)


WEEK 2


Prelude to the Holocaust



In this module Profs. Baumgarten and Kenez discuss the changing demographics and political landscape of early 20th century Eastern Europe, Jewish identity, the Bildungsroman, Silvano Arieti’s The Parnas, Primo Levi’s Survival in Auschwitz, Aharon Appelfeld’s Badenheim 1939, and Elie Wiesel’s Night.


19 videos, 1 reading expand


  1. Reading: 2.0.1 Topics, readings, and films
  2. Video: 2.1.1 Eastern Europe in the 20th century
  3. Video: 2.1.2 Poland, part 1
  4. Video: 2.1.3 Poland, part 2
  5. Video: 2.1.4 Hungary, part 1
  6. Video: 2.1.5 Hungary, part 2
  7. Video: 2.1.6 Fear and hatred
  8. Video: 2.2.1 Liberal European culture
  9. Video: 2.2.2 Night, part 1
  10. Video: 2.2.3 Night, part 2
  11. Video: 2.2.4 Life in the Arbeitslager
  12. Video: 2.3.1 Jewry of the Russian Empire
  13. Video: 2.3.2 The Russian state
  14. Video: 2.3.3 Changing demographics
  15. Video: 2.3.4 Pogroms in the Russian Empire and the USSR
  16. Video: 2.3.5 Jewish identity
  17. Video: 2.4.1 The Bildungsroman, part 1
  18. Video: 2.4.2 The Bildungsroman, part 2
  19. Video: 2.4.3 The Bildungsroman, part 3
  20. Video: 2.4.4 The Bildungsroman, part 4


WEEK 3


Rise of the Nazis
In this module Profs. Baumgarten and Kenez discuss the political and social environment of 1930s Germany, the Jewish question, and the treatment of evil in poetry.


14 videos, 7 readings expand


  1. Reading: 3.0.1 Topics, readings, and films
  2. Video: 3.1.1 Fascism
  3. Video: 3.1.2 Hitler and the Jews
  4. Video: 3.1.3 Germans and the Jews
  5. Video: 3.1.4 The rise of the Nazis
  6. Video: 3.1.5 Nazism in German culture
  7. Video: 3.2.1 Poetry and evil, part 1
  8. Video: 3.2.2 Poetry and evil, part 2
  9. Video: 3.2.3 Poetry and evil, part 3
  10. Video: 3.2.4 Todesfugue (Death Fugue)
  11. Reading: 3.2.5 Kaddish
  12. Reading: 3.2.6 Nightsong (English translation)
  13. Reading: 3.2.7 Death Fugue (English translation)
  14. Reading: 3.2.8 Todesfuge (German)
  15. Reading: 3.2.9 Memento Mori (English translation)
  16. Reading: 3.2.10 Memento Mori (Yiddish)
  17. Video: 3.3.1 Intentionalism and functionalism
  18. Video: 3.3.2 What do we do with the Jews?
  19. Video: 3.3.3 Why didn't they leave?
  20. Video: 3.3.4 The Anschluß and German pogroms
  21. Video: 3.3.5 Passing and not passing


WEEK 4


Beginnings of war



In this module Profs. Baumgarten and Kenez discuss the conditions that were necessary for the Holocaust to occur, the early events of World War II, Thomas Kenneally’s Schindlers List, Andres Schwartz-Bart’s The Last of the Just, and questions of guilt and responsibility.


15 videos, 1 reading expand


  1. Reading: 4.0.1 Topics, readings, and films
  2. Video: 4.1.1 Questions for the Jews
  3. Video: 4.1.2 Direct acts of violence
  4. Video: 4.1.3 Fight for what?
  5. Video: 4.1.4 Eroticization of violence
  6. Video: 4.1.5 Resistance and agency
  7. Video: 4.2.1 Beginnings of war
  8. Video: 4.2.2 German war aims
  9. Video: 4.2.3 Ghettoes
  10. Video: 4.2.4 Jewish leadership
  11. Video: 4.2.5 What did the neighbors say?
  12. Video: 4.3.1 Language of trauma
  13. Video: 4.3.2 Banality of evil
  14. Video: 4.3.3 Schindler's List, part 1
  15. Video: 4.3.4 Schindler's List, part 2
  16. Video: 4.3.5 Guilt and responsibility

Graded: The Holocaust is still with us

WEEK 5


Witness to trauma
In this module Profs. Baumgarten and Kenez discuss the invasion of the Soviet Union, Thomas Kenneally’s Schindler’s List, and questions of witnessing. Guest speaker Dora Sorell shares her own experience of the Holocaust.


16 videos, 1 reading expand


  1. Reading: 5.0.1 Topics, readings, and films
  2. Video: 5.1.1 Wartime lunacy
  3. Video: 5.1.2 Einsatzgruppen, part 1
  4. Video: 5.1.3 Einsatzgruppen, part 2
  5. Video: 5.1.4 Pogroms in the east
  6. Video: 5.1.5 Forms of resistance
  7. Video: 5.2.1 Witness to trauma, part 1
  8. Video: 5.2.2 Witness to trauma, part 2
  9. Video: 5.2.3 Witness to trauma, part 3
  10. Video: 5.2.4 Witness to trauma, part 4
  11. Video: 5.3.1 Dora Sorell, part 1
  12. Video: 5.3.2 Dora Sorell, part 2
  13. Video: 5.3.3 Dora Sorell, part 3
  14. Video: 5.3.4 Dora Sorell, part 4
  15. Video: 5.3.5 Dora Sorell, part 5
  16. Video: 5.3.6 Dora Sorell, part 6
  17. Video: 5.3.7 Dora Sorell, part 7


WEEK 6


Establishment of the camps
In this module Profs. Baumgarten and Kenez discuss the establishment of labor and extermination camps, memorialization, Tadeusz Borowski’s This Way for the Gas, Ladies and Gentlemen, and Christopher Browning’s Ordinary Men.


11 videos, 1 reading expand


  1. Reading: 6.0.1 Topics, readings, and films
  2. Video: 6.1.1 The heart of the matter
  3. Video: 6.1.2 From labor to extermination
  4. Video: 6.1.3 Bełżec, Sobibór and Treblinka
  5. Video: 6.1.4 The task of killing
  6. Video: 6.1.5 Auschwitz
  7. Video: 6.1.6 Who knew about the murders?
  8. Video: 6.2.1 This Way for the Gas, part 1
  9. Video: 6.2.2 This Way for the Gas, part 2
  10. Video: 6.2.3 This Way for the Gas, part 3
  11. Video: 6.2.4 This Way for the Gas, part 4
  12. Video: 6.2.5 Memorials and understanding

Graded: Analysis of a Holocaust text or film

WEEK 7


Deportation and extermination
In this module Profs. Baumgarten and Kenez discuss the Holocaust in Western Europe, the complex history of Hungary, Imre Kertész’s Fatelessness, and Ida Fink’s A Scrap of Time.


20 videos, 3 readings expand


  1. Reading: 7.0.1 Topics, readings, and films
  2. Video: 7.1.1 The Wansee Conference
  3. Video: 7.1.2 Denmark and Norway
  4. Video: 7.1.3 Belgium and Holland
  5. Video: 7.1.4 France and Italy
  6. Video: 7.1.5 Nazi looting
  7. Video: 7.2.1 Fatelessness, part 1
  8. Video: 7.2.2 Fatelessness, part 2
  9. Video: 7.2.3 Fatelessness, part 3
  10. Video: 7.2.4 Fatelessness, part 4
  11. Video: 7.2.5 Fatelessness, part 5
  12. Reading: 7.2.6 Never Say/Partisan Song (English translation)
  13. Reading: 7.2.7 Zog Nit Keyn Mol/Partizaner Lid (Yiddish)
  14. Video: 7.3.1 Deportation and extermination
  15. Video: 7.3.2 Antisemitic laws
  16. Video: 7.3.3 Germany and Hungary
  17. Video: 7.3.4 Separate peace
  18. Video: 7.3.5 Ambiguities
  19. Video: 7.4.1 A Scrap of Time, part 1
  20. Video: 7.4.2 A Scrap of Time, part 2
  21. Video: 7.4.3 A Scrap of Time, part 3
  22. Video: 7.4.4 A Scrap of Time, part 4
  23. Video: 7.4.5 A Scrap of Time, part 5


WEEK 8


The perpetrators, the neighbors, and the outside world
In this module Profs. Baumgarten and Kenez discuss the unique case of Romania, the culpability of the outside world, and the end of World War II. The text of Adolf Hitler’s last testament is provided.


11 videos, 2 readings expand


  1. Reading: 8.0.1 Topics, readings, and films
  2. Video: 8.1.1 Romania, part 1
  3. Video: 8.1.2 Romania, part 2
  4. Video: 8.1.3 Romania, part 3
  5. Video: 8.1.4 Romania, part 4
  6. Video: 8.1.5 A gigantic biological and social experiment
  7. Video: 8.2.1 The perpetrators
  8. Video: 8.2.2 Other types of madness
  9. Video: 8.2.3 The surrounding population
  10. Video: 8.2.4 The outside world
  11. Video: 8.2.5 Isolation
  12. Video: 8.2.6 Last testament
  13. Reading: 8.2.7 My Political Testament

Graded: Explore your ideas from the discussion forum

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