Home » 2011/2012 GE Model » GELH2002 / FSHG214 – The Holocaust, Genocide and Human Rights
Suggested Year of Study:2 to 4theme-3
Duration:1 Semester
Credit units:3
Offering unit:FAH

Department of English



Course Description

This course introduces students to the Holocaust, the systematic murder of the Jews of Europe by the Nazi regime between the years 1939 and 1945. In seeking to understand how the Holocaust happened, students will be introduced first to concepts like racial prejudice and other forms of discrimination, anti-Semitism, and the role of nationalism in creating concepts of the Other. The course will study the rise of the Nazi Party in Weimar Germany, its accession to power in 1933 and the systematic denigration of, and discrimination against, Jews from the years 1933 to 1939. The course will discuss the power of propaganda, the effects of discriminatory laws excluding Jews from all areas of public life and how these lead first to the mass murder of Jews in eastern Europe (Operation Barbarossa) and then the Final Solution, with the establishment of death camps, of which Auschwitz-Birkenau is but the most infamous. This course will also address the issue of genocide, how the Holocaust lead to the concept of genocide, first described as such by Raphael Lemkin in 1943 and subsequent international treaties seeking to prevent further genocides. The course will look at other genocides, including Armenia, Cambodia, Rwanda, and Darfur. Special attention will also be paid to the Japanese invasion of China, the Nanjing Massacre and Unit 731 in Manchuria.


Upon completion of this course, students should be able to:

  1. Understand the broad outlines of historical event which we now call the Holocaust or Shoah;
  2. Have an understanding of other genocide acts in Armenia, Cambodia, Rwanda, Darfur;
  3. Have an understanding of China’s own experience of racial prejudice and wartime suffering during the Japanese occupation;
  4. Be aware of racial, religious, ethnic, and other forms of discrimination and the very real dangers of thereof;
  5. Understand the role between discrimination and persecution and the importance of civil liberties and ideas central to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.