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SSHIS-2000-5: Power of Evil: Nazi Germany

Spring 2021

Subject: Social Science and History
Type: Seminar
Delivery Mode: Online
Level: Undergraduate

Course Dates: January 25, 2021 — May 09, 2021
Meetings: Tue 5:00-06:25PM
Instructor: Amy Sims

Units: 3.0
Enrolled: 16/18 Waitlist


How does evil fascinate, horrify, and attract us?  From the story of Cain and Abel to the horrors of twentieth century genocides, scholars are left to ponder the nature,   power, and seductiveness of evil. Is it primarily psychological or situational in its origin?  Is it a quality inherent only in some people, or does the capacity for evil reside in every human being, awaiting only a toxic combination of circumstances to activate it?   How can we resist its temptations? How do we recognize the first breaches in ethical thinking, the series of small steps that lead to evil?  How can we respond to them in order to preserve a humane world? At what point are we on the slippery slope? This course investigates the roots, power, temptation and consequences of evil in the case of Nazi Germany .We will reflect on how and why a civilized, modern nation planned and implemented a government policy of world domination and genocide.  We begin by studying the conditions that led to Hitler’s coming to power and then focus on the nature of the Nazi regime 1933-1945.  What was the nature and ideology of Nazism?  Why was racism such an important part of it? What was its appeal?  How do we explain obedience, passivity, compliance and conformity to the regime? How were propaganda, myth and ritual used to create a Volk community?  How was it possible to create art in a totalitarian state?  What is the moral responsibility of an individual within a mass movement and society? To what extent did the criminal policies of the regime permeate every day life? Who bears responsibility for the Holocaust?  Why did no one stop it? What challenges do  artists face in creating effective memorialization and representation?

Pre-Requisites and Co-Requisites:

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