About the Program
For students of all backgrounds and academic interests, this concentration focuses on the Holocaust or Shoah, the systematic attempt to annihilate the Jewish people during the period of the Third Reich (1933-1945).
Increasing interest in the Holocaust-more than 60 years after the fact-testifies to the widespread sense of it as everybody’s crucible, a metaphor of evil in the 20th century. It has been observed that, after the Holocaust, “one era came to a crashing close, and a whole new future began to unfold in which the basic question is not to what great height humankind might progress, but rather will humanity proceed to destroy itself in an Armageddon of its own making?” (Ryan, 1979)
Struggling with that question, scholars, psychologists, artists, theologians, historians, educators, and political and social scientists have addressed themselves increasingly over the years to Holocaust study. How did it happen? How could it have happened? What has the Holocaust taught us about ourselves? How can the horror be conveyed or represented? How can we transcend its sinister implications for our future? Although the Jewish people were clearly the central targets of Nazi persecution, other groups were also targeted. Historical awareness of this extended mosaic of victims is incorporated into this course of study as is the opportunity to pursue the broader moral and political issues generated by the Holocaust, e.g., problems in ethics and meta-ethics, international human rights, etc.
Joshua Kavaloski, Professor of German