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New Approaches to the Holocaust in Central and Eastern Europe


Admission requirements

This course is part of the (Res)MA History Programme. Students from within the specialization the course belongs to have right of way. It is not accessible for BA students.


The Holocaust already happened but the telling of “this happening” continues. This seminar showcases some of the newest interpretations of how the event which came to be known as the Holocaust happened in central and eastern Europe in the 1930s, the 1940s and beyond. Classic works and estalished scholars will be read alongside a new generation of Holocaust historians who explain the ways in which the Shoah happened in different ways in different places. Further, this seminar will situate the events which unfolded the regions (region?) of central and eastern (or east central?) Europe in Europe more broadly and within a global narrative. This seminar will problematize the work of historians more generally and explore connections and disconnections between scholars who ostensibly work on a similar topic.

Course objectives

General learning objectives

The student has acquired:

  1. The ability to independently identify and select literature, using traditional and modern techniques;

  2. The ability to independently identify and select sources, using traditional and modern techniques;

  3. The ability to analyse and evaluate a corpus of sources with a view to addressing a particular historical problem;

  4. The ability to analyse and evaluate literature with a view to addressing a particular historical problem;

  5. The ability to independently formulate a clear and well-argued research question, taking into account the theory and method of the field and to reduce this question to accessible and manageable sub-questions;

  6. The ability to independently set up and carry out an original research project that can make a contribution to existing scholarly debates;

  7. The ability to give a clear and well-founded oral and written report on research results in correct English, when required, or Dutch, meeting the criteria of the discipline;

  8. The ability to participate in current debates in the specialisation;

  9. The ability to provide constructive feedback to and formulate criticism of the work of others and the ability to evaluate the value of such criticism and feedback on one’s own work and incorporate it;

  10. (ResMA only:) The ability to participate in a discussion of the theoretical foundations of the discipline.

Learning objectives, pertaining to the specialisation

The student has acquired:

  1. Thorough knowledge and comprehension of one of the specialisations or subtrack as well as of the historiography of the specialisation, focusing particularly on the following: in the specialisation Politics, Culture and National Identities, 1789 to the Present: political practices, symbols and perceptions, nationalism, and national identities in a cultural and societal context from 1800;

  2. Thorough knowledge and comprehension of the theoretical, conceptual and methodological aspects of the specialisation Politics, Culture and National Identities, 1789 to the Present: international comparison and transfer; the analysis of the specific perspectives of secondary studies; a cultural-historical approach of politics and a political-historical approach of culture.

Learning objectives, pertaining to this Research Seminar

The student:

  1. has a nuanced understanding of theoretical debates pertaining to the Holocaust and how those debates have changed over time and become politicized;

  2. (ResMA only) has acquired the ability to use a more complex corpus of sources in comparison to regular MA students; and/or the ability to set up and carry out original research which raises new questions, pioneers new approaches and/or points to new directions for future research.


The timetables are available through MyTimetable.

Mode of instruction

  • Seminar (compulsory attendance)

This means that students must attend every session of the course. Students who are unable to attend are required to notify the lecturer beforehand. The teacher will determine if and how the missed session can be compensated by an additional assignment. If specific restrictions apply to a particular course, the lecturer will notify the students at the beginning of the semester. If a student does not comply with the aforementioned requirements, the student will be excluded from the seminar.

Assessment method


  • Written paper (6500-7500 words, based on research in primary sources, excluding title page, table of contents, footnotes and bibliography)
    measured learning objectives: 1-8, 9, 10-13, (and 14 ResMa only)

  • Oral presentation
    *measured learning objectives: 3-7, 9, 10-13, (and 14 ResMa only)**

  • Assignment 1 (Active participation in class)
    *measured learning objectives: 4,7, 9, 10-13, (and 14 ResMa only)**


  • Written paper: 60%

  • Oral presentation: 20 %

  • Active Participation 20: %

The final grade for the course is established by determining the weighted average with the additional requirement that the written paper must always be sufficient.


Assignments and written papers should be handed in within the deadline as provided in the relevant course outline on Brightspace.


Should the overall mark be unsatisfactory, the paper is to be revised after consultation with the instructor.

Inspection and feedback

How and when a review of the written paper will take place will be disclosed together with the publication of the results at the latest. If a student requests a review within 30 days after publication of the results, a review of the written paper will have to be organised. 

Reading list

  • Yitzhak Arad, The Operation Reinhard death camps: Belzec, Sobibor, Treblinka (Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press, 2018).

  • Christopher Browning, Remembering Survival: Inside a Nazi Slave-Labor Camp (New York: W.W.Norton, 2011).

  • Sarah Cramsey, Uprooting the Diaspora: Jewish Belonging and the Ethnic Revolution in Poland and Czechoslovakia, 1936-1946 (Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press, 2023).

  • Mark Edele, et al, Shelter from the Holocaust: Rethinking Jewish Survival in the Soviet Union

(Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 2017).

  • Barbara Engelking, “The Attitudes of Poles Towards Jews during the Holocaust,” (Leiden: Leiden University/Cleveringa Lecture 2021).

  • Chad Gibbs, To Sell Your Life at a Higher Price: Social and Spatial Networks of Resistance at Treblinka (Proquest Dissertations Publishing, 2016).

  • Jan Grabowski, “Uses and Abuses of Holocaust Historyin Poland: An Overview,” (Leiden: Leiden University/Cleveringa Lecture 2021).

  • Anna Hájková, The Last Ghetto: An Everyday History of Theresienstadt (New York: Oxford Univeristy Press, 2020).

  • Raul Hilburg, The Destruction of the European Jews (New York: Holmes and Meier, 1985).

  • Zygmunt Klukowski, Diary from the Years of Occupation, 1939-1944 (Urbana: University of Illinios Press, 1993).

  • Jeffrey Kopstein and Jason Wittenberg, Intimate Violence: Anti-Jewish Pogroms on th eeven of the Holocaust (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2018).

  • Andrew Kornbluth, The August Trials: The Holocaust and Postwar Justice in Poland (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2021).

  • Otto Dov Kulka, Landscapes of the Metropolis of Death: Reflections on Memory and Imagination (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2013).

  • Katarzyna Person, Warsaw Ghetto Police: The Jewish Order Service during the Nazi Occupation (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2021).

  • Emanuel Ringelblum, Polish-Jewish Relations during the Second World War (New York: Fertig, 1976).

  • Dan Stone, The Holocaust: An Unfinished History (London: Pelican, 2023).


Enrolment through MyStudyMap is mandatory.

General information about course and exam enrolment is available on the website.


  • For course related questions, contact the lecturer listed in the right information bar.

  • For questions about enrolment, admission, etc, contact the Education Administration Office: Huizinga.


Please email with any questions about this class.