Course overview

The Holocaust is one of the defining events of the twentieth century. So why did it happen? Was the Holocaust something which Hitler had planned or was it an improvised phenomenon made possible by a ferocious, conventional armed conflict? Join the class as we discuss in great detail the reasons as to why this harrowing event ever took place. How much did the Germans really know or understand about the fate of the Jews? Come along and join the class to find out more.

Course description

Was the Holocaust something which Hitler had planned since the mid-1920s and the writing of Mein Kampf? Or was it an improvised phenomenon made possible by a ferocious, conventional armed conflict? Why were the Jews scapegoated after Germany's defeat in the Great War of 1914-18? To what extent was anti-Semitism widespread in Central and Eastern Europe between the wars rather than being confined to Germany?

These are key questions that we will examine in understanding why the Holocaust happened. Our narrative will examine the growing persecution of Germany's Jews after 1933 noting that until 1941 the principal victims of the Nazis were disabled children and adults at home and the Polish elite abroad.

The crucial year of the Holocaust ran from early summer of 1942 to summer 1943. At the start of this period some 80% of the victims were still alive. Twelve months later an estimated 80% had been murdered. How and where did they die? How much did ordinary Germans know about the fate of the Jews? Why were the Allies seemingly unable or unwilling to provide salvation?

This is not an easy topic to study. We owe it to the victims to remember what happened and why it happened. The course is timed to coincide with Holocaust memorial day.

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