The Holocaust: an Introduction - Part 1

Part 1 of 2. This course depicts the complex history of the Holocaust, highlighting its impact on our world today.


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The Holocaust was an inconceivable historical event, which forever robbed Western culture of its innocence. As civilized human beings, we fail to understand how events of such horror could have taken place, and how an idea so inhumanly warped could have spread like wildfire through an entire continent, instigating the systematic annihilation of millions of Jews.

This free online course was produced jointly by Tel Aviv University and Yad Vashem – the World Center for Holocaust Research. The course tracks the history of the Holocaust and has two parts. The Holocaust: an Introduction - Part 1 is the first of the two courses and covers the following themes in its three weeks:

Week 1: From Hatred to Core Ideology
We will try to delve into Nazi ideology and the special place of Jews and Judaism in it. We will also discuss how the National Socialist Party converted the German Democracy of the Weimar Republic into a totalitarian regime within a short period of time, and its meaning for Jews and non-Jewish citizens.

Week 2: The World and the Jews in World War II
We will try to examine the broader contexts of the Holocaust and to place it, as part of World War 2. In this meeting we will also refer to the vital Jewish world to be found under various Nazi occupations and influences.

Week 3: The Isolation Abyss - the Perspective of the Individual
We will try to reveal different aspects of Jewish life in the face of the badge of shame, ghettos and segregation, as well as the formation of individual, societies’ and leader’s reactions in the face of a consistent policy of dispossession and discrimination.

Once you’ve completed this course, you can continue your learning with The Holocaust: an Introduction - Part 2.

This online course is offered in an innovative, multi-level format, comprising:

  • Comprehensive lectures by leading researchers from Tel Aviv University and Yad Vashem.
  • A wealth of voices and viewpoints presented by guest lecturers.
  • Numerous documents, photos, testimonies and works of art from the time of the Holocaust.
  • Novel learning experience: Crowdsourcing – involving the learners themselves in the act of collecting and shaping information, via unique, exciting online assignments.

This course is designed for anyone with an interest in the Holocaust, including students, teachers, academics and policy-makers.

Discuss the Holocaust within the context of Jewish and non-Jewish life in Europe before and during World War II,Assess historical documents and their various uses with a critical eye, including art and visual documentation.,Explore the way historians collect, evaluate and shape historical sources into historical narratives and facts.,Identify one’s responsibility in a world full of knowledge that is being modified and mediated, and the importance of critical thinking.,Describe the conscious and unconscious effects a totalitarian regime has on the individual.,Identify anti-Semitism and its different appearances.,Summarize the transformation of the Weimar Republic into Nazi Germany.,Investigate how Nazi ideology shaped different occupation patterns in East and West Europe, and the way these occupations influenced the implementation of steps taken against Jews.,Discuss various Jewish leaderships, and the complexities that stood before them.,Assess the great variety of ghettos established in East Europe, and the different patterns of segregation in Western Europe.
This course is designed for anyone with an interest in the Holocaust, including students, teachers, academics and policy-makers.