History of the Holocaust

I.     Course Prefix/Number: HIS 228

       Course Name: History of the Holocaust

       Credits: 3 (3 lecture; 0 lab)

II.    Prerequisite


III.   Course (Catalog) Description

Course surveys the history, background, causes, events, impact, and implications of the destruction of the Jews and others in Europe.

IV.   Learning Objectives

  1. Describe the essential historical figures, events, and ideas associated with the history of the Holocaust.
  2. Describe the interrelationship among political, economic, cultural, and gender issues associated with the history of Holocaust.
  3. Evaluate representative works from art, film, literature, and philosophy associated with the Holocaust.
  4. Analyze primary and secondary sources related to the Holocaust.

V.    Academic Integrity and Student Conduct

Students and employees at Oakton Community College are required to demonstrate academic integrity and follow Oakton's Code of Academic Conduct. This code prohibits:

• cheating,
• plagiarism (turning in work not written by you, or lacking proper citation),
• falsification and fabrication (lying or distorting the truth),
• helping others to cheat,
• unauthorized changes on official documents,
• pretending to be someone else or having someone else pretend to be you,
• making or accepting bribes, special favors, or threats, and
• any other behavior that violates academic integrity.

There are serious consequences to violations of the academic integrity policy. Oakton's policies and procedures provide students a fair hearing if a complaint is made against you. If you are found to have violated the policy, the minimum penalty is failure on the assignment and, a disciplinary record will be established and kept on file in the office of the Vice President for Student Affairs for a period of 3 years.

Please review the Code of Academic Conduct and the Code of Student Conduct, both located online at

VI.   Sequence of Topics

  1. Backgrounds to genocide and Holocaust: genocide in historical perspective. Who were the Jews and why were they targeted? Dimensions of the subject.
  2. Genocide and Holocaust as an outgrowth of the international, political, social, economic, and ideological crises of the twentieth century.
  3. Pre-war Nazi Germany: The historical setting for the Holocaust.
  4. Who was Adolf Hitler? Who were the Nazis? Rise of Nazi Germany. Nazi institutions of power and Nazi political structures.
  5. The road to the Holocaust: from persecution to mass murder, 1933-1941.
  6. The Final Solution to the Jewish question: how and why? 1941-1945.
  7. Human behavior and the Holocaust: bystanders, resistance, rescuers.
  8. Women and the Holocaust.
  9. Other approaches: studying the Holocaust in art, music, and literature.
  10. Visual literacy and oral history: the memory and testimony of the survivor. Comparisons with memories of “ordinary Germans,” and perpetrators.
  11. The Holocaust: economic, historical, philosophical, political, and social implications.
  12. The Holocaust: moral, philosophical, and theological implications.
  13. The fall of Nazi Germany and the end of the Holocaust.
  14. Historiography, outcomes, and final analysis.
  15. Holocaust denial.
  16. Post-War considerations: displaced persons and the state of Israel.
  17. Holocaust in film.

VII.  Methods of Instruction

Classes will include a variety of instructional methods such as: lectures, in class discussions, group activities, document and film analysis, guest speakers, and the use of new technologies.
Course may be taught as face-to-face, hybrid or online course.

VIII. Course Practices Required

Students will be required to:
  1. Read a standard textbook and research materials.
  2. Write outside of class the equivalent of 13‑15 double‑spaced typed pages in the form of a term paper, summaries of journal articles, short research papers, and/or other kinds of writing.
  3. Complete quizzes, worksheets, a midterm, and a final exam;
  4. Distinguish between primary and secondary sources as the foundation of modern historical scholarship;
  5. Interpret primary sources critically by analyzing their historical contexts;
  6. Formulate historical interpretations and defend them critically with reference to primary and secondary sources; and incorporate into historical interpretations as an understanding of historical causation knowledge of important figures and events and their chronological relationship to each other and an awareness of the contingent relationships using several variables;
  7. Participate in in-class and out-of-class activities.
  8. Course may be taught as face-to-face, hybrid or online course.

IX.   Instructional Materials

Note: Current textbook information for each course and section is available on Oakton's Schedule of Classes.

Bauer, Yehuda. Rethinking the Holocaust. Botwinick, Rita. History of the Holocaust.
Brown, Daniel Patrick. The Beautiful Beast: The Life and Crimes of SS-Aufseherin Irma Grese.
Chartock, Roselle and Jack Spencer, Eds. Can it Happen Again?: Chronicles of the Holocaust.
Fritzsche, Peter. Germans into Nazis.
Herbermann, Nanda. The Blessed Abyss: Inmate #6582 in Ravensbrück Concentration Camp for Women.
Laqueur, Walter, Ed. The Holocaust Encyclopedia.
Levi, Primo. Survival in Auschwitz.
Niewyk, Donald. The Holocaust: Problems and Perspectives of Interpretation.
Rittner, Carol and John Roth. Different Voices: Women and the Holocaust.
Sax, Boria. Animals in the Third Reich: Pets, Scapegoats, and the Holocaust.
Segev, Tom. Soldiers of Evil: The Commandants of the Nazi Concentration Camps.
Spielvogel, Jackson and David Redles. Hitler and Nazi Germany: A History, 6th ed.
Spitz, Vivien. Doctors from Hell: The Horrific Accounts of Nazi Experiments on Humans.
Wiesel, Elie. Night.

Supplementary readings will also be assigned as appropriate, and currently include:
Maier-Sarti, Wendy Adele-Marie. “History of the Holocaust.” Encyclopedia of the Modern World

X.    Methods of Evaluating Student Progress

At least two exams will be given. The final exam will be comprehensive.
Students will also be evaluated on a combination of written assignments and in- and out-of-class assignments.

XI.   Other Course Information

If you have a documented learning, psychological, or physical disability you may be entitled to reasonable academic accommodations or services. To request accommodations or services, contact the Access and Disability Resource Center at the Des Plaines or Skokie campus. All students are expected to fulfill essential course requirements. The College will not waive any essential skill or requirement of a course or degree program.

Oakton Community College is committed to maintaining a campus environment emphasizing the dignity and worth of all members of the community, and complies with all federal and state Title IX requirements.

Resources and support for
  • pregnancy-related and parenting accommodations; and
  • victims of sexual misconduct
can be found at www.oakton.edu/title9/.

Resources and support for LGBTQ+ students can be found at www.oakton.edu/lgbtq.

Electronic video and/or audio recording is not permitted during class unless the student obtains written permission from the instructor. In cases where recordings are allowed, such content is restricted to personal use only. Any distribution of such recordings is strictly prohibited. Personal use is defined as use by an individual student for the purpose of studying or completing course assignments.

For students who have been approved for audio and/or video recording of lectures and other classroom activities as a reasonable accommodation by Oakton’s Access Disabilities Resource Center (ADRC), applicable federal law requires instructors to permit those recordings. Such recordings are also limited to personal use. Any distribution of such recordings is strictly prohibited.

Violation of this policy will result in disciplinary action through the Code of Student Conduct.