The Holocaust as Global History

This information is for the 2013/14 session.

Teacher responsible

Prof Timothy Snyder (Philippe Roman Chair in History and International Affairs for 2013-14)


Intended for Masters and Doctoral students from the Department of International History. This course is not available as an outside option.

Course content

The Holocaust, the German policy of murdering all Jews under German power, is considered to be a central event of the European twentieth century. How could it have happened? In recent years, the availability of sources and perspectives from the lands where the Holocaust took place has permitted a certain transcendance of traditional and inadequate national frameworks, while at the same time making even more pressing the question of the proper level of analysis. If most victims (and, for that matter, perpetrators and bystanders) of the Holocaust had nothing to do with Germany before 1939, then German history, while clearly necessary, must be insufficient. In the past decade scholars of European history have put the Holocaust in a global setting making the history of the Holocaust a matter of methodological as well as substantial interest. Of course, upon examination, many of these new trends were anticipated long ago in classic works, which we shall also be examining. This course will examine the essential question: in what respects is the Holocaust a global history? The course will be divided into two parts: historiography of the Holocaust (October, November, January) and issues of memory and commemoration (March).
Seminar Topics
1. Introduction: Hitler's Global Ecology
2. State Destruction
3. Peter Longerich: The Jews within Germany
4. Saul Friedländer: Ideology in and Beyond Germany
5. Christopher Browning: Universal Institutionalism
6. Institutionalism: Some Sources
7. Hannah Arendt and the Global Turn
8. Hannah Arendt and the Individual
9. Jan Gross: Arendtian Microhistory
10. Jedwabne: The Discussion
11. Mazower: German Empire
12. Tooze: Global Economics
13. Polin conference on Ukrainian-Jewish relations and the Holocaust.
14. Bloodlands: The Regional
15. Bloodlands: The Global
16. Global Memory (1)
17. Class Presentations, Group B
18. Global Memory (2)
19. Class Presentations, Group A
20. Papers due, Group A
21. Papers due, Group B


20 hours of seminars in the MT. 20 hours of seminars in the LT.

The seminar will meet twice a week on Tuesdays and Wednesdays for two hours respectively, from 11:00 – 13:00 in the Michaelmas term in Week 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, and in the Lent term in Week 1, 2, 9, 10, with a special conference assignment on 16 January 2014. Professor Snyder will give a lecture in the first hour, then initiate the discussion. The session will then become interactive. Students are expected to keep up with readings for the weekly meetings and to participate in the seminar discussions. No use of laptops during seminar will be permitted.

Formative coursework

Students are required to prepare for in-class presentations (assigned during the first week) as well as to write one essay of c. 7,500 words. The general topic within which essay subjects will be chosen is: in what respects is the Holocaust a global history?

Indicative reading

Timothy Snyder, "Hitler's Logical Holocaust," New York Review of Books, 20 December 2012. Peter Longerich, Holocaust: The Nazi Persecution and Murder of the Jews, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2010. Saul Friedländer, The Years of Extermination, New York: Harper Perennial, 2007. Christopher Browning, Ordinary Men: Reserve Police Battalion 101 and the Final Solution in Poland, New York: Harper Perennial, 1998. Stanley Milgram, "Behavioral Study of Obedience,"Journal of Abnormal and Social Psychology. 67, 1963. Hannah Arendt, The Origins of Totalitaranism, New York: Harcourt, Brace, 1951. Mark Mazower, Hitler's Empire: Nazi Rule in Occupied Europe, London: Allen Lane, 2008.


This is a non-assessed course.

Key facts

Department: International History

Total students 2012/13: Unavailable

Average class size 2012/13: Unavailable

Value: Non-assessed

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information