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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.

21,045 enrolled on this course

  • Duration

    3 weeks
  • Weekly study

    3 hours

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.
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Skip to 0 minutes and 9 seconds On the 15th of April, 1945, the British army liberated the German concentration camp Bergen-Belsen. The soldiers were horrified by what they saw, 60,000 barely alive prisoners in an ongoing process of dying. Among them was Miriam Akavia, a young Jewish girl originally from the beautiful city of Krakow, Poland. During the Holocaust, her brother was killed by the Gestapo, her father murdered in Mauthausen, and her beloved mother, exhausted and starved, died days before liberation. Miriam, weighing only 25 kilograms, already saw herself as a sure candidate for death. Years later she recalled, “They came too late, since it was too late to save anyone. The whole world was lost and destroyed.

Skip to 1 minute and 3 seconds The whole world that was worthy of being called a world was gone.” Miriam didn’t feel sorry for herself, but for them, the liberators. She felt that the world missed a chance. Why is the Holocaust such a watershed of humanity, and what is its continuous impact on our world? I’m Professor Havi Dreifuss of Tel Aviv University and Yad Vashem, and I would like to invite you to our course, the Holocaust, an introduction. In this course, you will meet leading experts in the field who will expose you, step by step, to the ideology and developments which led to the systematic mass murder of six million Jews, mothers, fathers, children, human beings.

Skip to 1 minute and 49 seconds Come and join us in this eye-opening voyage to one of the darkest moments of human history, the Holocaust.

What topics will you cover?

  • The shift from traditional hatred of the Jews to Anti-Semitism being part of an ideology: Nazi ideology and the Jews
  • The transformation of the German state from a republic to a Totalitarian regime, and later to a Nazi State.
  • The lives of Jews and non-Jews in Nazi Germany.
  • The world and the Jews in WWII: the Holocaust as part of WWII.
  • Different Nazi occupation policies and patterns.
  • Nazi ideology as an important factor in shaping the different Jewish and non-Jewish experiences in Eastern and Western Europe.
  • The abyss of isolation: Jewish life in the face of shame, segregation and ghettos – the perspective of the individual.
  • The variety of different ghettos established in Eastern Europe; The diversity if Jewish Leadership, and more.

Learning on this course

On every step of the course you can meet other learners, share your ideas and join in with active discussions in the comments.

What will you achieve?

By the end of the course, you‘ll be able to...

  • 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.

Who is the course for?

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

Who will you learn with?

Havi Dreifuss is a historian of the Holocaust in Eastern Europe; senior lecturer in the Department of Jewish History at TAU; heads the Center for Research of Holocaust History in Poland, Yad Vashem.

Dr Na'ama Bela Shik is the Director of Educational Technology Department in The International School for Holocaust Studies at Yad Vashem.

Inbar is a graduate student in the department of Jewish History at Tel Aviv University.

Who developed the course?

Tel Aviv University

Tel Aviv University (TAU) is Israel’s largest institution of higher learning – with over 30,000 students and more than 125 schools and departments in nine faculties.

Yad Vashem

As the Jewish people’s living memorial to the Holocaust, Yad Vashem safeguards the memory of the past and imparts its meaning for future generations.

Learning on FutureLearn

Your learning, your rules

  • Courses are split into weeks, activities, and steps to help you keep track of your learning
  • Learn through a mix of bite-sized videos, long- and short-form articles, audio, and practical activities
  • Stay motivated by using the Progress page to keep track of your step completion and assessment scores

Join a global classroom

  • Experience the power of social learning, and get inspired by an international network of learners
  • Share ideas with your peers and course educators on every step of the course
  • Join the conversation by reading, @ing, liking, bookmarking, and replying to comments from others

Map your progress

  • As you work through the course, use notifications and the Progress page to guide your learning
  • Whenever you’re ready, mark each step as complete, you’re in control
  • Complete 90% of course steps and all of the assessments to earn your certificate

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