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Auschwitz in History and Memory


Module description

Auschwitz was the deadliest Nazi camp and the deadliest Holocaust site: during the Second World War, the SS killed around one million Jews here, most of them murdered on arrival in gas chambers. Auschwitz has since become a symbol of the Holocaust and of the twentieth century more generally.

This course examines the history of Auschwitz, exploring its multiple functions - as a site of political terror, slave labour, medical experiments and genocide - and the lived experience of victims and perpetrators. The course also surveys the far-reaching legacy of Auschwitz after the war, looking at key aspects such as representation, commemoration and justice.

Indicative module syllabus

  • Origins
  • Functions
  • Agency and lived experience
  • Planet Auschwitz? External connections
  • SS lives
  • Post-war justice
  • Survivors - memory and trauma
  • Representation and the politics of memory
  • The meaning of Auschwitz

Learning objectives

By the end of this module, you will:

  • have a good knowledge of the major themes in the history of Auschwitz
  • compared and contrasted the approaches used by scholars to the history and memory of Auschwitz, and understand the reasons for difference
  • have handled primary sources with confidence and demonstrated the ability to use them as a means of evaluating current paradigms
  • understand how and why the place of Auschwitz in popular memory across different countries has changed
  • have situated Auschwitz within wider debates about the development of the historical discipline, and related disciplines.