HIST 441 (3 cr): History of the Holocaust

HIST441 - History of the Holocaust

Course Description

A study of the systematic attempt to destroy European Jewry during the Nazi regime, 1933-1945. Topics of special importance include: the place of Jews in European society; the nature of genocide; the motivations and behaviour of the perpetrators; the reactions of the victims; the roles of bystanders.

Course Objectives

By the end of this course, you will:

  • Learn about the history of the Holocaust and develop content knowledge and expertise in the subject
  • Develop and improve critical reading skills and the ability to analyze primary and secondary texts using historical methodologies and techniques
  • Acquire and improve written and oral presentation skills
  • Cultivate the ability to present a sustained argument based on research findings using appropriate historical discourse

Course Structure

There are 3 thematic units of study over 13 weeks. These units consist of varying numbers of modules or lessons. A module will take approximately 5 hours of study time. In sequence, they are:

Unit 1: Prelude to Mass Murder

  • Module 1.1: Introductions & Definitions
  • Module 1.2: European Jews on the Eve of the Holocaust
  • Module 1.3: Nazi Ideology and the Jews
  • Module 1.4: Nazi Anti-Jewish Actions and Jewish Reactions
  • Module 1.5: “None is too many:” The Jewish Refugee Crisis and the World Response

Unit 2: Shoah

  • Module 2.1: German Preparations for the “Final Solution”
  • Module 2.2: Ghettoization
  • Module 2.3: The Death Camp Universe
  • Module 2.4: Resistance, Rescue, Reaction

Unit 3: Liberation & Aftermath

  • Module 3.1: Liberation
  • Module 3.2: Memory & Memorialization
  • Module 3.3: Political & Social Implications of the Holocaust


The textbook for this course is Holocaust: A History by Debórah Dwork and Robert Jan Van Pelt (New York, 2003. ISBN: 978-0393325249). Textbook readings will be supplemented by a course reader available from the UBC Bookstore.

In addition to the assigned readings, each module contains links to additional readings, primary source and audio/video resources. These are recommended to complement your studies.

Assessment and Assignments

You will be assessed primarily on your written/published assignments, which include a student journal, self-assessments and a term paper/project. A portion of your grade is based on participation. You can demonstrate participation by attending synchronous course activities, commenting in class forums and/or participating in the class Facebook group.

Students will be required to complete the following assignments:

  • Weekly Journal
  • 4 Self-Assessments
  • 1 Term Paper/Project

Learning Pathways in the Course

As it is an upper level course, the course is geared to those of you who have taken history courses earlier and are comfortable with self-paced learning. The course focuses on the study of the holocaust and its impact in sociological, historical and human terms. This course introduces you to the critical perspectives of historiography on one of the most devastating periods of the 20th century.

You will get ample opportunities to seek clarification and support from your instructor through this course through email and online office hours. You will also get a chance to review primary and secondary sources on the period and talk to a survivor in an online discussion.

HIST441 Textbook Order Form