History 356 (201) Twentieth Century Germany




Course Level





This course will introduce you to major themes in twentieth-century German history and historiography.  We will examine continuities and discontinuities in German development from the Empire through World War I and the Weimar Republic, with a special emphasis on the causes of the breakdown of Weimar democracy and the rise of Hitler's National Socialism.  The course will then turn to the Nazi revolution in politics and society, focusing on the place of racism, anti-Semitism and anti-Communism in Nazi ideology and practice.  We will look at how Nazi ideology combined with the structure of the Nazi state and the cover of the Second World War to produce the unique horror of the Holocaust.  The total defeat of Germany in 1945 and its subsequent reconstruction as two states again raises the question of continuities and discontinuities.  We will trace the divergent, but linked histories of democratic West Germany and the Communist East, concluding with the dramatic fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 and subsequent reunification of the two states.