Spring 2013 - Undergraduate Course Descriptions

Pfister, Debra
Discipline and Number
HIST 4376 Section 502
W Time 7:00 PM - 9:45 PM
Course Title
America and the Holocaust

Description of Course:

The United States has a long tradition as the beacon of hope for the downtrodden, defender of the defenseless, and refuge for the oppressed. In recent years, that tradition has been heavily scrutinized as a result of the Nazi’s persecution of Europe’s Jewish populations between 1933 and 1945. As the scope of the Jewish plight became apparent, the American response became disjointed, confused, and impotent behind an enigmatic President, restrictive legislation, obstructionist bureaucrats, and a strangely silent press. The burning question still lingers today: Was America’s lack of response the result of an inept and poorly managed government or was it consistent with an undercurrent of anti-Semitism running throughout the American public and their government?

The purpose of this course is to examine, in detail, the extent and the rationales of the United States’ response to the events in Europe between 1933 and 1945. To do this, we must first understand what the US Government knew, when they knew it, and what they did with that knowledge. Students will explore the extent of racism and anti-Semitism in 20th Century America and how those feelings affected the press, the public, and politicians up to the highest level of Government. Using extensive readings, primary source documents from Government archives, personal diaries, and first-hand accounts, we will delve deeply into a tragedy that if not prevented, could have been mitigated by a US response consistent with our lofty ideals.

Required Texts:


Course Requirements/Evaluation Criteria:

Course requirements include regular attendance and participation, participation in a group project, one analytical paper on a topic to be provided in class, and two tests.

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