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Berlin, Germany

Topics in European History: Seduction and Terror: Hitler’s Germany

Global Temple Conference

Course Number: 
Semester(s) Offered: 
Summer 2019
Credit Hours: 

Arranged each semester, please consult with the instructor. See the history department web site (www.temple.edu/history) for the specific topics offered each semester.

Why take this course in Berlin?

The ‘thousand year Reich’ that Hitler promised when he became Chancellor of Germany in January 1933 lasted but 12 years. During this time, Hitler and his Nazi Party came to dominate Europe, terrorizing vast numbers of Germans, launching a devastating war, and orchestrating the murder of more than five million Jews. In spite of the terror and vast destruction, Hitler and the Nazi Party gained the active support and involvement of most Germans. How was this possible? What roles did seduction and terror play? This class focuses on Hitler’s Germany and it begins with the 19th century background. Central to this session will be a discussion of the broad political currents, the agitators and petty demagogues who fueled the dissatisfaction and spread it widely. We will also examine the popular literature that Hitler and many of his supporters read and absorbed.
Crucial to understanding the lure of Hitler and the Nazi Party was Germany’s experience in the First World War, a conflict that decimated a generation and destroyed Europe, as it was known. It left in its wake a shattered, humiliated, and deeply torn Germany. In this climate of uncertainty and despair, Hitler and the Nazi Party grew from a small group on the fringe of radical politics in Munich to a national force. This development is of central importance to this session. Those traits of Hitler crucial to his success, particularly his charisma, will be defined and analyzed within the broader political context of Weimar political and cultural life.
Hitler’s ambitions, the conquest of ‘living space’ in Eastern Europe, the ruthless exploitation of these territories, and the annihilation of the Jews, motivated his foreign ambitions and led directly to World War II, the most destructive conflict in human history. We will also discuss the measures taken against the handicapped, homosexuals, Sinti and Roma. In Germany and in occupied Europe opposition and resistance emerged and challenged Nazi rule. Opponents were motivated by a variety of reasons, some personal, some political. These too will be discussed. Lastly, the class will examine the end of the war, the so-called ‘zero hour’, the destruction and collapse of Germany.
We will also be visiting local museums, historical sites and locations that reveal the operations of Nazi rule. These visits to sites in and near Berlin are a key element of the class and the experience of studying here.
Instructor: Dr. Robert Waite – FU Berlin
Robert G. Waite is a research historian at the German Resistance Memorial Center in Berlin and is writing the history of the Plötzensee Prison. He has taught modern European, Russian, and German history at the University of Maryland (European Division), Idaho State University, Boise State University, and the Free University of Berlin. Until 2008 he was senior historian at the Office of Special Investigations, US Department of Justice (Washington, DC), where he investigated alleged Nazi offenders. Dr. Waite’s research interests are the history of law enforcement and crime, the relationship and interactions between the public and the state in Nazi Germany, the Holocaust, and the American West. 

Special Notes: 

Repeatability: This course may be repeated for additional credit.