Nuremberg rally 1938


The Rise and Fall of Hitler: Europe 1914-1945

George S. Vascik

Fall Term 2007

Office: 580 Mosler Hall Office Hours: M & W 1:00-4:00 PM & by appt.
Office Phone: 513-785-3272

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As learners in this course:
  • Each student will gain significant content knowledge on this period of European history.
  • Students will hone their critical thinking skills by analyzing primary documents and summarizing the arguments of secondary literature; identifying biases and interpretive approaches; assessing the persuasiveness and validity of different kinds of evidence; and developing arguments of their own.
  • Students will learn from other learners through our discussion of the lecture topics and the group projects on the "timing debate".
  • Through reflection on the course material, students will recognize the era as different from our own while learning to appreciate the relationship of the past to contemporary issues and trends.
  • Students will practice their writing skills through weekly written essays of various types and lengths, including a 10-page research paper that they will share with other learners in the class.
Because this class is at the 400 level, it will be more intense than other level classes in the History curriculum. We will be reading and writing more than in other History courses, and your final research papers and group presentations will be held to a high standard of intellectual rigor.


The texts for this course are:

  • A.J. Nicholls, Weimar and the Rise of Hitler 
  • Jay Baird, To Die for Germany 
  • Ian Kershaw, The Nazi Dictatorship 
  • Peter Longerich, Unwritten Order 
  • Ian Kershaw, Hitler, volumes 1 and 2
  • other readings as described in the syllabus available on e-Reserve.

The pages to be read from each text for each class meeting are listed below under Course Topics and Readings.  Please read them before coming to class, as my lecture and our discussions will presuppose your familiarity with the material covered. To encourage you to read the material and engage fully in the class, we will have weekly post-lecture quizzes administered on Blackboard. You must complete each weekly post-lecture quiz by the Friday subsequent to the lecture.


All grades will be determined in the following manner:  

Weekly quizzes                                   40%

Research paper                                    20%

Group project                                      15%

Final examination                                25%

There will be no curve.  Students must complete all quizzes and exams at the scheduled time. In accordance with the Miami University Handbook, all students will attend every scheduled class. Each unexcused absence will result in a 5% reduction in your course grade.

During or subsequent to each of the four sections of the course, you must make at least three (non-graded) contributions to the appropriate discussion forum. Failure to do so will result in the deduction of 5% from your final grade for each section to which you fail to contribute.

According to the Miami University Student Handbook, a student may withdraw from a full-semester course through the ninth calendar week of the semester.  After the end of the ninth week, a student may NOT withdraw from a course unless a petition is approved by the Interdivisional Committee of Advisors.  For the full policy, see:


As part of this class, every student will write a research paper 10 pages in length, worth 15% of his/her total grade. Students have the choice of writing either a biographical papers exploring individual Nazi perpetrators linked to the group projects (i.e., a student in the Winter 1941 group would write a research biography on one of the participants of the Wannsee Conference) or a historiographic paper exploring another Holocaust Studies debate (such as the Intentionalist/Functionalist debate or the Goldhagen Controversy). The links below are keyed to individual stages in your research and writing. At each date, I will expect a report on the progress of your work. This should be helpful in ensuring that each of you produces a quality piece of work.


Your paper should be at least 10 pages in length, excluding title page and bibliography. Use 1.25" margins (Word's default margins), 12-point font, and page numbers. You many use either footnotes or endnotes in any standard format, however you must be consistent throughout and you may not use in-line citations. If you choose to use a biographic emphasis, the bulk of your paper should deal with your subject's activities related to the onset of the Final Solution. You should preface this part with a short biography of your subject before 1939, and follow it with a consideration of what your subject did during the implementation phase of the genocide. You should conclude with a page on what light your subject's activities shed on the timing debate. If you choose to write a historiographic paper, you will want to lay out the views of the major scholars on your topic, and explain each school in detail, emphasizing the sorts of primary documents that each uses.


In each module, students will work through a series of mini-lectures and other activities prior to our Saturday meeting. Students are expected to view each mini-lecture and take a quiz, each worth 5% of the total grade. There are also other learning activities and objects placed in each module that will have to be completed before class, including taking part in a discussion board conversation about the module materials. We will begin each Saturday class with a discussion. Every student will prepare one question and one observation on the pre-class activities, and we will use these as the basis of our discussion. After we have met on Saturday, students will complete the module by doing a non-graded assessment of what they have learned and post one observation to the appropriate discussion board.


Each student will participate actively in class through the discussion board, making at least three posts every week as described on each discussion forum assignment. Each discussion forum is set up around the weekly Monday lecture topic, and must be completed by the Friday subsequent to the lecture. At least one of these posts must be keyed to the assigned reading material. 


8/19     Introduction to Age of Dictators

8/25     Module 1: Imperial Germany and Austria

Felix Gilbert, The End of the European Era, pp. 95-133, 139-148.

9/1       Module 2: War & Revolution

A.J. Nicholls, Weimar and the Rise of Hitler, pp. 1-22.

            Ian Kershaw, Hitler, volume 1, pp. 72-165

9/8       Module 3: The Republican Experiment

A.J. Nicholls, Weimar and the Rise of Hitler, pp.23-119.

            Ian Kershaw, Hitler, volume 1, pp. 167-375

9/15     Module 4: Adolf Hitler

A.J. Nicholls, Weimar and the Rise of Hitler, pp. 120-162.

Ian Kershaw, Hitler, volume 1, pp. 1-69.

            Ian Kershaw, The Nazi Dictatorship, pp. 1-46.

9/22     Module 5: Nazi Domestic Policy

            Ian Kershaw, Hitler, volume 1, pp. 377-591, and volume 2, pp. 1-154.

Jay Baird, To Die for Germany, pp. 1-201.

            Ian Kershaw, The Nazi Dictatorship, pp. 47-92, 161-182.

9/29     Module 6: Nazi Foreign Policy

            Ian Kershaw, Hitler, volume 2, pp. 155-338.

            Ian Kershaw, The Nazi Dictatorship, pp. 134-160.

10/6     Module 7: Hitler's War

Ian Kershaw, Hitler, volume 2, pp. 339-606.

            Jay Baird, To Die for Germany, pp. 202-242.

10/13   Module 8: The "Final Solution"

            Ian Kershaw, The Nazi Dictatorship, pp. 93-133, 218-236.

Peter Longerich, Unwritten Order

10/14-12/1       Final examination                                                               

George S. Vascik
Department of History
Miami University
Last updated: March 15, 2010