Historiographical approaches towards Nazi Germany

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					Rereading German History, 1933-1945

MA Option Proposal, Autumn 2011

Dr Christian Goeschel

More has been written on Nazi Germany than on almost any other period in history.
This course explores the Third Reich’s very rich historiography and the major phases
it has gone through since 1933. From the Nazi seizure of power in 1933 until the end
of WWII, the literature, mainly written by German exiles, focused heavily on the Nazi
regime’s brutal nature and, to some extent, on the structure of the Nazi dictatorship.
From 1945 until the 1960s, the coming of the Third Reich concerned historians and
political scientists, heavily influenced by the notion of totalitarianism. In the 1970s
and 1980s, historians’ attention shifted to the Third Reich before the outbreak of
WWII, challenging the totalitarian hypothesis with structuralist explanations. At that
time, historians also began to explore the Holocaust. Since the 1990s, aided by the
release of vast amounts of documents from Eastern European archives, the focus has
shifted towards the Third Reich at war and more heavily on the Holocaust.
    Each session explores one key theme of the Nazi dictatorship which historians
have discussed controversially, including the coming of the Third Reich; the nature of
the Nazi regime; resistance and repression; society; class; gender; foreign policy and
Nazi racial policy. Students will learn how to think critically about the motives,
methods and processes of research in this area. The course will also introduce students
to some key primary documents.

   1. Introduction: Historians Approach Nazi Germany
   2. The Nazi Seizure of Power
   3. Hitler, State and Party
   4. Propaganda
   5. Society
   6. Resistance and Repression
   7. Foreign Policy
   8. Social Outsiders and Racial Policy
   9. The Final Solution
   10. Nazism in Memory and Shifting Perspectives

Introductory Reading

Ian Kershaw, The Nazi Dictatorship: Problems and Perspectives of Interpretation (4th
edn. 2000)

Neil Gregor (ed.), Nazism (2000)

John Lukacs, The Hitler of History (1997)

Michael Marrus, The Holocaust in History (1987)

Dan Stone (ed.), The Historiography of the Holocaust (2004)

Richard J. Evans, The Third Reich in Power (2005)

				
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