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Operation Barbarossa, barbarization of warfare, and the emergence of *the* Final Solution

Seminar questions:

What happened on December 12, 1941?

Why does the "dating game" matter? Why do we need to know when the Final decision was taken?

How did ordinary men become murderers?

If the murderers are "ordinary men", and almost anyone could do the same, do people still carry the responsibility?


Core readings:

Christian Gerlach, “The Wannsee Conference, the Fate of German Jews, and Hitler's Decision in Principle to Exterminate All European Jews,” Journal of Modern History 70,4 (1998): 759-812.

Christopher Browning, Ordinary Men.

Extended readings:

Waitman Beorn, Marching into darkness : the Wehrmacht and the Holocaust in Belarus (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2014).

Hannes Heer and Michael Naumann, eds., War of extermination : the German Military in World War II, 1941-1944 (New York: Berghahn, 2000).

Konrad Jarausch, ed., Reluctant Accomplice : A Wehrmacht Soldier's Letters from the Eastern Front (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2011).

Regina Mühlhäuser, "Reframing Sexual Violence as a Weapon and Strategy of War: The Case of the German Wehrmacht during the War and Genocide in the Soviet Union, 1941–1944," Journal of the History of Sexuality, 26,3 (2017), pp. 366-401.

Sönke Neitzel and Harald Welzer, Soldaten: On fighting, killing, and dying : the Secret World War II tapes of German POWs (London: Simon and Schuster, 2013).

Wolfram Wette, The Wehrmacht : history, myth, reality (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2014).

Peter Witte, "Two Decisions Concerning the “Final Solution to the Jewish Question”: Deportations to Lodz and Mass Murder in Chelmno," Holocaust and Genocide Studies, 9,3, (Winter 1995), pp. 318–345.