UCSB Hist 133Q, Fall 2001
Readings on the Holocaust
HSSB 2201, Wed. 2-4:50
www.history.ucsb.edu/faculty/marcuse/133d [changed 1/04]

Prof. Marcuse
HSSB 4221, 893-2635
Office hours: Tues. 12:30-1:30, Wed. 11-12

Readings on the Holocaust: Sept. 2001 Syllabus
(current 133Q website)

Course Description

In this course we will read and discuss important works about the Holocaust in order to examine some of the psychological, moral and historiographical issues it raises. We will also learn and practice some of the skills used in creating history: interpreting primary sources, assessing secondary works, and reporting orally and in writing about our findings.

This is an intensive reading course: We will read one book per week. Each week 2 or 3 students will present their research to the class, while all other students will write short (2 page) essays or prepare a page of questions. Each student will write a research report on one of the weekly topics.


  1. This course is designed for students concurrently enrolled in Hist 133D, or who have a substantial prior knowledge of Holocaust or German history. Thus all participants should have taken a course in the UCSB Hist 133 series, or the equivalent in another department or at another school. In the latter case, permission of the instructor is required.
  2. Regular, active participation in class discussion, which counts for 40% (!) of the final grade.
    Grading is on a 10 point scale, with 5 points for being present and alert, but not contributing.
  3. Submission of three short papers, about 500 words (2 double-spaced, typed pages) in length, on the weekly questions about the readings (see reverse side). Please note that I will be looking more for a coherent and thoughtful engagement with the book than a paper that addresses all aspects of the question(s). You should be sure to argue a thesis using specific examples as evidence to back up your argument. These papers are due on Tuesdays, by 2pm, in the envelope outside my office. Each is worth 5% of your final grade for a total of 15%.
  4. Submission of four sets of 5-10 questions each, about the weekly readings. Some of each set may address specific points that you don't understand; others should aim at broader issues raised by the material. These are also due on Tuesdays, by 2pm, in the envelope outside my office. Each question set is worth 4% of the final grade (16% altogether).
  5. Research presentation (10-15mins.) (this will usually be done by teams of two or more students). An outline of the presentation is due in the instructor's office on Monday by 2pm. Each week's team should meet with the professor beforehand to review their discussion plan. (10% of final grade)
  6. A short paper (7-10 pages, plus bibliography) discussing your research topic in a more formal way. This will normally be due one week after the class discussion. (20% of final grade)
  7. There will be no midterm or final examination.

Components of Grade:
discussion: 8x5%=40%; short papers: 3x5%=15%; questions: 4x4%=16%; presentation: 10%; paper: 20%.

Required Books

  1. Massaquoi, Hans J. Destined to Witness: Growing up Black in Nazi Germany (HarperCollins, 1999)
  2. Müller, Melissa. Anne Frank: The Biography (Henry Holt, 1998)
  3. Sierakowiak, Dawid. The Diary of Dawid Sierakowiak: Five Notebooks from the Lódz Ghetto (Oxford, 1996)
  4. Appleman-Jurman, Alicia. Alicia: My Story (Bantam, 1988)
  5. Levi, Primo. Survival in Auschwitz: The Nazi Assault on Humanity (Italy 1947; 1993)
  6. Isaacson, Judith Magyar, Seed of Sarah: Memoirs of a Survivor (University of Illinois Press, 1990)
  7. Müller, Filip. Eyewitness Auschwitz: Three Years in the Gas Chambers (Ivan Dee, 1999)
  8. Clendinnen, Inga. Reading the Holocaust (Cambridge University Press, 1999)

Schedule of Topics

26 Sept.

Introduction. Course theme: The range of victims’ experiences



3 Oct.

An Afro-German: Massaquoi, Growing up Black in Germany
In what ways does this person's experience confirm or contradict your preconceptions about life in 1930s Germany?

Prof. Marcuse


10 Oct.

A Jew in the West: M. Müller, Anne Frank Biography
How does the Anne portrayed in this biography differ from the author documented by Anne’s diary? Which book should be used to teach about the Holocaust in 8th (or 10th) grade?



17 Oct.

Ghetto in Poland: Sierakowiak, Notebooks from the Lódz Ghetto
How was this teenage Polish Jew’s experience different from that of a Jew in western Europe? Why might we want high school students to study Dawid’s experiences instead of Anne Frank’s?



24 Oct.

Underground in Poland: Appleman-Jurman, My Story
How did Alicia's experiences during the Holocaust affect her values and the actions she decided to take? In contrast to Anne and Dawid, she survived. Why?



31 Oct.

Nina Morecki, Letter (www.history.ucsb.edu/projects/holocaust)
This week everyone should write a list of questions.
For next week, write a single-spaced one page paper in which you reflect on what you found most striking in the discussion.



7 Nov.

Chemist in Auschwitz: Levi, Survival in Auschwitz
What characteristics and circumstances enabled Levi to survive?
Did he do anything wrong (incur guilt)? If so, what circumstances might explain or exonerate that behavior?



14 Nov.

Woman in Auschwitz: Isaacson, Seed of Sarah
How did a woman experience the Holocaust differently than men?
What characteristics and circumstances enabled Isaacson to survive? Did she do anything to incur guilt?



21 Nov.

Auschwitz crematorium: F.Müller, 3 Years in the Gas Chambers
How does this experience compare to that of other Auschwitz survivors? How can we judge what Müller did at Auschwitz?



28 Nov.

The perpetrators’ view: Clendinnen, Reading the Holocaust
How did perpetrators view their victims, and what those victims might be experiencing? How did different perpetrator behaviors affect victims’ experiences?


5 Dec.

Final discussion


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