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The International School for Holocaust Studies

Online Courses

The “Final Solution of the Jewish Problem” – Course Syllabus

“At the Edge of the Abyss – The Holocaust of European Jewry"

This course section traces the chronology of the Final Solution, its manifestation in west and east Europe, and its perpetrators and victims. Students will gain an in-depth knowledge of the steps in the establishment of the “Final Solution,” and its execution in various countries. They will read personal testimonies as well pieces of Nazi literature to learn about the period and try and understand the atrocities of the Holocaust.

As with all our online courses, assignments may be submitted at your own pace. Once you are approved onto the course system, participation will remain open for a period of 6 months, after which your course access will expire. We recommend reading the material and submitting the assignments at a rate of one lesson or more every two weeks.

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This online course is one of 5 courses comprising “At the Edge of the Abyss – The Holocaust of European Jewry".

Lesson 1:
Antisemitism and the Evolution of the Final Solution
This lesson begins with the rise of the Nazi Party in 1933 and continues with historical material on the goals of the Nazi Party in eliminating Jews from its territories. It focuses on the role of antisemitism in Nazi ideology.
Reading:
Christopher R. Browning, “From “Ethnic Cleansing” to Genocide to the “Final Solution,” The Evolution of Nazi Jewish Policy, 1939-1941", in Nazi Policy, Jewish Workers, German Killers, Cambridge University Press, New York 2000, 1-25.
Further reading:
Christopher R. Browning, “The Search for a Final Solution Through Expulsion,” Origins of the Final Solution: September 1939 - March 1942, Yad Vashem, Jerusalem 2004, 36-110.

Lesson 2:
The Ghettos
This lesson covers the formation of the ghettos, partheir role in the Final Solution.
Reading:
Christopher R. Browning, “Nazi Population and Jewish Policy, Nazi Ghettoization Policy in Poland: 1939-41”, in Central European History, XIX (1986), pp. 343-386.
Further Reading:
Ilya Ehrenburg and Vasily Grossman (Eds.), The Black Book, Holocaust Library, Holocaust Publications Inc, New York 1981) (esp. “The Russian Soviet Federated Socialist Republic,” pp. 253-294.)

Lesson 3:
From Operation Barbarossa to the Death Camps, Part 1
One part of a two-part lesson, this lesson traces the German war on the Soviet Union and the fate of its Jews.
Reading:
Extracts from: Yitzhak Arad, “The Holocaust of Soviet Jewry,” Yad Vashem Studies, XXI, pp. 1-47.
Further Reading:
Ilya Ehrenburg and Vasily Grossman (Eds.), The Black Book, Holocaust Library, Holocaust Publications Inc, New York 1981) (esp. “The Russian Soviet Federated Socialist Republic”, pp. 253-294.)

Lesson 4:
From Operation Barbarossa to the Death Camps, Part 2
In the second part of this lesson, we delve into the mass extermination program of the Soviet Union’s Jews, including the concentration camps in Eastern Europe.
Reading:
Yitzchak Arad, “ ‘Operation Reinhard’: Extermintation Camps of Belzec, Sobibor and Treblinka,” Yad Vashem Studies XVI, Jerusalem: Yad Vashem, 1984, pp. 205-239.
Further Reading:
Christian Gerlach, “The Wannsee Conference, the Fate of German Jews, and Hitler's Decision in Principle to Exterminate All European Jews,” in Omer Bartov (ed.), The Holocaust: Origins, Implementation, Aftermath, London: Routledge, 2000, pp. 106-140.

Lesson 5:
The Nazi Camp System
This lesson provides an historical background of the Final Solution.
This unit focuses on the evolution of Nazi concentration camps and how they fit into the Third Reich’s “iron fist.”
Reading:
Falk Pingel, “The Concentration Camps as a part of the National-Socialist System of Domination”, in Yisrael Gutman, Avital Saf (Eds.), The Nazi Concentration Camps, Structure and Aims, The Image of the Prisoner, The Jews in the Camps, Yad Vashem, Jerusalem, 1980, pp. 3-17.
Further Reading:
Czeslaw Madajcyk, “Camps as a Tool of Oppression in Nazi-Occupied Europe”, in Yisrael Gutman, Avital Saf (Eds.), The Nazi Concentration Camps, Structure and Aims, The Image of the Prisoner, The Jews in the Camps, Yad Vashem, Jerusalem, 1984, pp. 47-68.

Lesson 6:
Auschwitz, Majdanek, and the “Final Solution”
This lesson takes a close look at the Nazi concentration and extermination camps of Auschwitz and Majdanek. It traces their establishment, operational activities, and liberation.
Reading:
Excerpts from Franciszek Piper, “Gas Chambers and Crematoria”, in Yisrael Gutman, Michael Berenbaum (Eds.), Anatomy of the Auschwitz Death Camp, United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, Washington, D.C. and Indiana University Press, Bloomington and Indianapolis, 1994, pp. 157-182.
Further Reading:
Piper, Francizek and Swiebocka, Teresa, Auschwitz - Nazi Death Camp, Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum, Oswiecim 1996.

Lesson 7:
The Perpetrators
This lessons looks at the perpetrators of the Holocaust, those who actively took part in the persecution, torture, and murder of Nazi victims.
Reading:
Interview with Professor David Bankier, Institute of Contemporary Jewry, Hebrew University, Jerusalem, Eclipse Of Humanity (Multimedia CD), Yad Vashem, Jerusalem 2000.
Further Reading:
Christopher Browning: Ordinary Men, Harper Perennial, New York, 1993.
Daniel Jonah Goldhagen, Hitler's Willing Executioners – Ordinary Germans and the Holocaust, New York 1996.

Lesson 8:
The “Final Solution” in Stanislawow
This lesson focuses on how the “Final Solution” unraveled in Stanislawow in Galicia. This story can be seen as a microcosm of what happened to Jews all over Eastern Europe.
Reading:
Extracts from an Article by Dieter Pohl, “Hans Krueger and the Murder of the Jews in the Stanislawow Region,” in Yad Vashem Studies, Vol. 26, Yad Vashem, Jerusalem 1998, pp. 239- 265.
Further Reading:
“The murder of Jews in the General Government” by Dieter Pohl, in Ulrich Herbert, National Socialist Extermination Policies: Contemporary Perspectives and Controversies, Volume 2, Berghahn Books, New York and Oxford 2000, pp. 83-103.

Lesson 9:
The Jews of Greece and the “Final Solution”
A lesser-known story, this lesson focuses on Jews of Greece, most of whom were annihilated during the Holocaust.
Reading:
Bracha Rivlin, “The Jews of Greece in the Holocaust,” in On the Path of Remembrance 33 (Heb.), Yad Vashem, Jerusalem 1999, pp. 25-30.
Further Reading:
Michael Matsas, The Illusion of Safety: The Story of the Greek Jews During World War II, Pella Publishing Company, New York 1997 (esp. chapters 2 and 3).

Lesson 10:
The “Final Solution” in Western Europe
The experience of Jewish communities in Western Europe was quite different to that of Eastern European communities. This lesson explores three major Western European Jewish communities as test cases.
Reading:

  1. Joseph Michman, “Righteous Gentiles and Saving Jews in Holland,” in On the Path of Remembrance, 29 (Heb.), Yad Vashem, Jeursalem 1998, pp. 13-18.
  2. Extracts From Manfred Gerstenfeld, “The Attitude of the Dutch to the Jews during and after the Holocaust – Myth and Reality,” Netiv: January 2000, (Ariel Center for Policy Research), pp. 57-64.

Further Reading:
John F. Sweets, “Jews and Non-Jews in France during the Second World War,” David Bankier and Israel Gutman (Eds.), Nazi Europe and Final Solution, Yad Vashem, Jerusalem 2003, pp. 361-373.

Lesson 11:
Survival in the Nazi Camps
This lesson centers around the inmates of Nazi concentration camps, and is largely based on personal testimonies.
Reading:
Gideon Greif, “The Daily Life of Auschwitz Prisoners,” in On the Path of Remembrance, 28 (Heb.), Yad Vashem, Jerusalem 1998, pp. 17-25.
Further Reading:
Yisrael Gutman, Michael Berenbaum (eds.), Anatomy of the Auschwitz Death Camp, Indiana University Press, 1994. (esp. “Inmates,” pp. 363-469.)

Lesson 12:
The Righteous Among the Nations
This lesson focuses on the "Righteous Among the Nations", those non-Jews who saved Jews without promise of any reward.
Reading:

  1. Nechama Tec, “A Glimmer of Light”, Carol Rittner, Stephen D. Smith, Irena Steinfeldt (Editors), The Holocaust and the Christian World, Bet Shalom, Yad Vashem, 2000, pp. 150-155.
  2. Eva Fleischner, “The Memory of Goodness”, Carol Rittner, Stephen D. Smith, Irena Steinfeldt (Editors), The Holocaust and the Christian World, Bet Shalom, Yad Vashem, 2000, pp. 156-158.

Lesson 13:
Liberation and Return to Life
This lesson deals with the difficulties experienced by the survivors as they tried to pick up the pieces of their lives after liberation.
Reading:
Kleiman, Yehudit and Springer-Aharoni, Nina, The Anguish of Liberation, Jerusalem: Yad Vashem, 1995.
Further Reading:
Pieter Lagrou, “Return to a Vanished World: European Societies and the Remnants of their Jewish Communities, 1945-1947” in David Bankier (ed.), The Jews are Coming Back – The Return of the Jews to their Countries of Origin After WWII, Berghahn Books, New York, Oxford, and Yad Vashem, Jerusalem, 2005.


With the generous support of:
Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany