Beginning in Spring 2018, the minor in Judaic, Holocaust and Peace Studies includes a new course to its Holocaust concentration. In HIS 3532 (as of Fall 2018: JHP/HIS 3152) "Nazi Germany: History and Posthistory," students will examine histories of Nazi Germany, especially processes of dictatorship building, Nazi cultural policies, socio-economic developments, foreign policy and war, the persecution of real and imagined opponents, and implementation of genocidal policies. The course will discuss these phenomena in their trans-European connections. It also examines how Germans, ranging from political elites to student activists, sought and often failed to "come to terms" with the Nazi past after 1945.
Since the most recent presidential election campaign and beginning of the Trump presidency, concepts and imageries of fascism have pervaded political and cultural discourses in the U.S. at a level not seen since the early 1970s. In their reflections on the current political landscape, journalists, public intellectuals, politicians and a number of academics frequently draw comparisons to German fascism of the 1920s through 1940s. A growing number of Holocaust survivors has even equated the present political climate in the U.S. with that of mid-1930s Austria or early 1930s Germany. Moreover, images of swastika flags and armed white supremacists marching in Charlottesville, VA, and elsewhere along with an increasing mainstreaming of so-called “white nationalism” replete with racist and anti-Semitic ideologies have turned discussions of fascism and Nazism to an almost daily occurrence. These phenomena make it ever more timely and necessary to revisit and evaluate histories and posthistories of Nazism and Hitler Germany of the last century. Among others, the course explores the multi-fold ways in which politicians and grassroots activists alike appropriated and instrumentalized presentist social and political memories of fascism and mass murder. Their actions, as the course will demonstrate, also prefigured political and mnemonic practices that shape the political landscapes and cultures from the Berlin Republic to the United States today.