Spring 2018

War, Occupation, and Genocide: The Experience of World War II in Europe

Listed in: European Studies, as EUST-325  |  History, as HIST-325


April D. Trask (Section 01)


(Offered as HIST 325 [EU] and EUST 325) Seventy years on, World War II remains a point of rupture, an “hour zero,” in histories of Europe, Germany and the modern world. Rather than fading into the memories of our past, the Second World War has grown in the public imagination, spurring a deluge of films and books on the experiences of combat, loss and survival. Considered the most total conflict of world history, World War II wrought unparalleled destruction upon both soldiers and civilians across three continents. The Nazi regime turned the conflict into the most horrific war in European history, resorting to genocidal methods in their “war of annihilation” against European Jews. States harnessed levels of social mobilization and personal commitment to an extent not seen before or after. Through scholarly texts and original artifacts, this seminar explores the relationship between the destructive capacity of war and the effects on those who produce, are subject to, and must come to terms with its experience. The course focuses on the diverse experiences of the people who were involved in the war: soldiers on the battlefields; women mobilized into new roles at home and on the frontlines; children whose lives were shaped by new strategies of survival and/or given purpose by the war effort; colonial troops who both fought for Europe’s empires and against colonialism; European Jews who faced “impossible” choices in the path to genocide; and individuals for whom the war provided new opportunities to transgress boundaries of community surveillance, state and sexuality.  The course will focus on topics including: the social, economic, ideological and sexual complexities of wartime occupation; population movement and displacement; domestic mobilization; and the Holocaust.  Two course meetings per week.

Limited to 18 students. Not open to first-year students. Spring semester. Visiting Professor Trask.

If Overenrolled: Preference given first to HIST majors, then EUST majors. Preference also given to students who have taken HIST-234.


Attention to Issues of Class, Attention to Issues of Gender and Sexuality, Attention to Issues of Race, Attention to Speaking, Attention to Writing, Transnational or World Cultures Taught in English


2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2018