js 211 new syllabus fall 2015 draft-2 - -JS 211 The Holocaust Spring 2015 Instructor Prof Sharon Gillerman Office Hours Wednesdays 1:00-3:00 and by

js 211 new syllabus fall 2015 draft-2 - -JS 211 The...

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-- JS 211: The Holocaust Spring 2015 Instructor: Prof. Sharon Gillerman Office Hours: Wednesdays: 1:00-3:00 and by appointment Teaching Assistants: Sarah Rapaport ([email protected]) Gavi Ruit ([email protected]) Office: At Hebrew Union College (Hoover and 32nd, Room 15) Contact info: (213) 765-2152 email: [email protected] The historical event we now know as the Holocaust or the Shoah , occurred in a technologically advanced, highly cultured and "civilized" society in the heart of modern twentieth-century Europe. Studying these events as well as their interpretations by among others, historians, political philosophers, and religious thinkers, forces us to question some of the most fundamental assumptions of western culture, including the foundations of the society in which we live today. Why did the political and religious traditions of the West fail to prevent the industrialized mass killings of those deemed racially inferior? How could science and medicine become instrumentalized to plan and execute mass murder? What allowed perpetrators of genocide to follow the norms of their government and peers, at the expense of their conscience? Why were there not more Raoul Wallenbergs and Oscar Schindlers? This course is intended as an introduction to the Nazi genocide of the Jewish people, as well as to the genocide of Poles, gypsies, Soviet POWs, and the disabled, between the years 1933-1945. In the class we will look at the kinds of ideological, political, and social factors that prepared the way for genocide, closely scrutinize the motivations of the perpetrators, try to understand the responses of those who became bystanders, and consider the impact of dehumanization on its victims. As we examine the specific historical, sociological, and psychological factors shaping human behavior during the Holocaust, we will focus especially on evaluating the moral dilemmas that arose during this terrible chapter in the history of modern Europe and the West and reflect on the existence of parallel issues in our own society . The Holocaust was neither the first nor the last genocide of the twentieth century, however. It is crucial, therefore, that we situate the Nazi genocide within the larger perspective of twentieth-century genocides, and attempt to understand it in relation to 1
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those events that preceded and succeeded it. For this reason, the course will begin by examining the genocide of the Armenians in the Ottoman Empire, and conclude in the latter half of the twentieth century by looking at the genocide of indigenous peoples in Central America, together with the cases of Rwanda and Sudan. Learning Outcomes. Students will be able to: 1. Identify the social, political, intellectual, economic, and cultural forces that shaped interwar Germany and helped pave the way for the growth of fascism.
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