UC Santa Barbara > History Department > Prof. Marcuse > Courses > Hist 133Q homepage
133q books for 2006
The 6 books for Winter 2008 (different Sobibor book)

Readings in Holocaust History
(UCSB Hist 133Q)

by Professor Harold Marcuse
contact: marcuse@history.ucsb.edu
class e-mail: 58347-W2008@ulists.ucsb.edu

page begun Jan. 4, 2004; last update: Feb. 4, 2008

(at top)
Old Announcements
Weekly Topics
with additional links
2008 syllabus
Course history
(description and
reading lists)
My other courses
Hist 2C, 33D, 133A, 133B, 133C, 133D, 133P
133Q: 1998, 1999w, 1999f, 2001, 2004, 2006

Announcements (old announcements move to bottom)

  • Feb. 4, 2008: Cathryn (and I) recommend this 3-hour 2005 BBC miniseries "Auschwitz: The Nazis and the Final Solution," published in book form as Auschwitz: A New History. It is available on the web, broken into 9 segments (click through to view): list of 9; direct link to 1.
  • Feb. 4, 2008: I don't think the annotated bibliography assignment is working out very well (I don't think that is very useful). I'd like to discuss this with you more next week. I think the entries should be more focused around content, or specific questions.

Links for weekly topics (back to top)

  1. Maus by Art Spiegelman (1986, 1991)
  2. Frauen by Alison Owings (1993)
    • Google books version (searchable)
    • review by Elaine Martin, University of Alabama
    • Alison Owings' homepage (learn what else the author has done)
    • Myrna Goldenberg, "Lessons Learned from Gentle Heroism: Women's Holocaust Narratives," in: Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, Vol. 548 (Nov., 1996), pp. 78-93 (jstor--access from UCSB domain only)
    • Women's Sexuality in the Concentration Camps, an oral history project at UC Berkeley that is now defunct (web archive version). I'm just putting this here to keep access to it (goes best with Seed of Sarah).
  3. Explaining Hitler by Ron Rosenbaum (1999)
  4. Sobibor by Thomas Blatt (1997)
  5. Man's Search for Meaning by Victor Frankl
  6. Denying History by Alex Grobman and Michael Shermer

Course Description and History (back to top)

Hist 133Q, "Readings in Holocaust History," is one of my favorite courses to teach, because we read the best books on a subject and discuss the issues they raise in great dept. I first taught this seminar in 1998, twice in 1999, then again in 2001, 2004, 2006 and 2008 (see the syllabi: 1998, 1999 winter, 1999 fall, 2001, 2004, 2006, 2008).
Basically, in this seminar of about 15 students, we read a book a week (long or thematically complex books are spread over 2 weeks). Each week teams of 2 or 3 students work with me preparing background material and help to lead the discussion, while other students either write a 2-page essay on a guiding question, or formulate 6-10 questions of their own.
Class time is almost completely devoted to discussion, with the discussion leaders or professor presenting background material as necessary. (Prior to enrolling, all students should already have substantial knowledge of Holocaust history--completion of or parallel enrollment in one of my other courses is normally required.)
Each student also prepares a more substantial paper on their book or topic.
Each time I offer the course I keep some of the students' favorite books from the previous time, and choose a theme to guide the rest of the selection.

  • 1998.
    1998 Holocaust readings
    The 9 books for Winter 1998
    The first time I taught this seminar I picked 9 of what I consider superior introductory books on the Holocaust, each paired with a scholarly essay:
    • Thomas Keneally's Schindler's List (1982)(with viewing of 1993 movie),
    • Sebastian Haffner's The Meaning of Hitler (1979);
    • Michael Burleigh's Death and Deliverance on Euthanasia (1994);
    • Browning's Ordinary Men (1992);
    • Auschwitz commandant Rudolf Höss's memoir (1992);
    • Judith Isaacson's memoir of a female survivor's experience, Seed of Sarah (1990);
    • Art Spiegelman's Maus (1986, 1991);
    • Mel Mermelstein's anti-denial Auschwitz memoir (1993); and
    • Anne Frank's diary (1946 etc.).
    • see 1998 syllabus
  • 1999-Winter.
    1999 Holocaust readings
    The 10 books for Winter 1999
    For the second offering I chose Teaching the Holocaust as the theme, with:
    • Anne Frank's diary (1946) and Elie Wiesel's Night (1958); then
    • Isaacson (1990) and Browning (1998 edition) again; followed by
    • a new Hitler book, Gerald Fleming's Hitler and the Final Solution, (1984);
    • Robert Abzug's commented source collection America Views the Holocaust (1998);
    • Eva Fogelman's book about rescuers Conscience and Courage (1994);
    • Deborah Lipstadt's scholarly work on Holocaust denial (1993); and
    • Anne Frank and the World (1998), a collection of essays about using Anne Frank's diary in the classroom.
    • I didn't assign the scholarly essays to everyone this time, but helped the presenting teams to find appropriate background readings. Instead, I started using the guiding questions for the rest of the class, and finishing up the readings with a more challenging book.
    • see winter 1999 syllabus
  • 1999-Fall.
    Holocaust readings fall 1999
    The 9 books for Fall 1999
    Guilt and Responsibility was the theme of the third offering of this seminar. Readings started with
    • Abzug's source collection on the US and the Holocaust (1998);
    • Alfon's Heck's Burden of Hitler's Legacy (1988);
    • Proctor's Racial Hygiene (1988);
    • Gitta Sereny's biography of Treblinka commandant Stangl Into that Darkness (1983);
    • Primo Levi's Survival in Auschwitz (1947);
    • Thomas Blatt's memoir of the Sobibor uprising (1997);
    • Fogelman's Conscience and Courage (1994);
    • a visit by Holocaust survivor Nina Morecki; and finally
    • Isaacson's Seed of Sarah (1990).
    • see fall 1999 syllabus
  • 2001.
    Holocaust Readings 2001
    The 9 books for Fall 2001
    After a two-year break I wanted to read some great new survivor memoirs that had been published, so I chose the Range of Victims' Experiences as the theme in 2001. We began with:
    • the memoir of afro-German Hans Massaquoi (1999); continued with
    • Melissa Müller's biography of Anne Frank (1998);
    • Dawid Sierakowiak's Lodz diary (1996);
    • Alicia Appleman-Jurman's memoir (1988);
    • a visit by Nina Morecki; Primo Levi's memoir again (1947); followed by
    • Isaacson's memoir (1990, a perennial favorite);
    • Auschwitz Sonderkommando Filip Müller's memoir (1999); and concluded with
    • Australian anthropologist Inga Clendinnen's reflections on Holocaust historiography Reading the Holocaust (1999).
    • see 2001syllabus; my fall 2001 Hist 133D website contains links for these books
  • 2004.

    6 of the 7 books for Winter 2004 (+Fogelman)
    After another long break, in 2004 I chose Histories and Memories as the theme, with:
    • Mark Roseman's Past in Hiding;
    • Henry Friedlander's book on Euthanasia;
    • Filip Müller's Sonderkommando memoir;
    • Appleman-Jurman's Story;
    • Fogelman on rescuers again (also a perennial favorite, because students like its positive stories);
    • Shermer and Grobman's new book on Holocaust denial; and finally
    • Elinor Langer's 100 Little Hitlers on a skinhead murder of an African immigrant in Oregon (Langer had presented her book on the UCSB campus the preceding quarter).
    • see 2004 syllabus
    • note after the course: I think the student-led discussions didn't work as well this year, so I think next time I'll go back to leading the first hour myself.
  • 2006.

    The 8 books for Winter 2006
    This year's theme was Testimony and Memory. We started by taking two weeks to read:
    • Victor Klemperer's diaries for 1933-1941; then again
    • Mark Roseman's Past in Hiding; back to another perennial favorite with
    • Isaacson's Seed of Sarah; also repeating
    • Müller's Sonderkommando memoir; then
    • Roseman's book on the Wannsee conference (as an analysis of various sources);
    • Auschwitz commandant Höss's memoir;
    • Lukacs' study of books about Hitler, and finally
    • Jan Gross's Neighbors, a study of a massacre in an eastern Polish town.
    • Klemperer, Wannsee and Lukacs on Hitler I've never used before; I tried Gross in a 4-unit GE freshman seminar in 2003, and it didn't work (too challenging).
    • See 2006 syllabus
  • 2008.

    The 6 books for Winter 2008 (diff. Sobibor book)
    This year the seminar met on Mondays, so we only had 8 sessions (M.L. King and Presidents' Days). I had the opportunity to bring to guest authors to class: Alison Owings, who interviewed about 50 German women for her book Frauen, and Thomas Toivi Blatt, a survivor of the Sobibor extermination center and participant in the 1943 uprising there. I decided to do a biographical theme: how oral history and documents are used to write biographies and autobiographies, how survivors try to create meaning out of their experiences, and how some people try to negate that meaning. Most books were "new" this year, although I had used
    • Maus and
    • Grobman/Shermer's Denying History before, as well as selections from
    • Owings' Frauen,
    • Blatt's Sobibor, and
    • Rosenbaum's Explaining Hitler before.

Old Announcements (back to top)
  • Dec. 12 , 2007: I don't have the prerequisite--can I enroll in this course anyway?
    This course has as a prerequisite any course in the Hist 133 series, or permission of the instructor. I grant permission to students who have sufficient background in German or Holocaust history--another relevant course (including high school electives), substantial independent reading, films, museum visits would all count. If you are highly motivated and are willing to do some preparatory reading, I can also let you into the course. (Since this is a discussion-based course, if you don't have the background, you will feel left out of the discussion and your grade will suffer.)
    Recommended titles for preparation
    • Doris Bergen, War & Genocide: A Concise History of the Holocaust (R&L, 2002)
      ($22/15 at amazon)
    • Ronnie Landau, The Nazi Holocaust (Ivan Dee, 1994/2002)
      UCSB: D804.3.L355 1994
    • Deborah Dwork and R.J. van Pelt, The Holocaust: A History (2002)
      ($13/10 at amazon)
    • Jackson Spielvogel, Hitler and Nazi Germany: A History (Prentice Hall, 1992/1996)
      UCSB: DD256.5 .S68 1996
  • Dec. 12, 2007Holocaust books for 2008: Here are the readings for Winter 2008:
    1. Art Spiegelman, Maus: A Survivor's Tale, vols. 1 & 2,(Pantheon 1986, 1992; boxed set 1993)
      v.1 amazon $7 used, $10 new
      v. 2 amazon $7 used, $10 new
    2. Alison Owings, Frauen: German Women Recall the Third Reich (Rutgers, 1995) (amazon $12 used, $22 new) [the author will be a guest speaker in the class]
    3. Ron Rosenbaum, Explaining Hitler: The Search for the Origins of His Evil
      (Harper 1999) (amazon $11 new 9 used)
    4. [title changed 1/1/08]Thomas Toivi Blatt, From the Ashes of Sobibor: A Story of Survival (Northwestern, 1997)(amazon $14 new, $13 used)
      ( [the author will be a guest speaker in the class)
    5. Viktor Frankl, Man's Search for Meaning (Beacon, 2006 [1946, 1959])
    6. Michael Shermer, Alex Grobman, Denying History: Who Says the Holocaust Never Happened and Why Do They Say It? (UC Press, 2002) (amazon $19 new, $7 used)
  • Jan. 7, 2008: The 2008 syllabus is now available.
  • Jan. 23, 2008: Please note that tomorrow, Thu. Jan. 24, Sobibor survivor Thomas Blatt will be speaking in HSSB 4020, 12:30-1:45pm. He is the author of our reading for week six, Feb. 25.
    • also, I have uploaded Erin's annotated bibliography for Maus as an example for how to do these. I would like to discuss your reactions in our next class meeting.
    • And don't forget: next Monday, Jan. 28, at 5:30 at 524 Chapala St., Alison Owings will be presenting about the women in her book Frauen.
  • Jan. 28, 2008. For directions to tonights presentation, see the bottom of the Jan. 28 announcement on my Hist 133D webpage. Alison Owings will be joining us in class today until 3pm.

author: H. Marcuse

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