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The Holocaust: an Introduction - Part 2

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

13,763 enrolled on this course

A black and white photograph of Auschwitz
  • 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. This course is the second of the two courses and covers three themes in its three weeks:

Week 1: The Final Solution
We’ll look at the cultural and mental processes that paved the way to the comprehensive and systematic mass murder of Jews in Europe – that is, the Final Solution. As part of this hard lesson we will discuss the various characteristics of the murder sites and death camps, and reveal selected aspects of the horror that occurred in them.

Week 2: Jewish and Non-Jewish Responses to the Holocaust
We will try to explore questions regarding knowledge about the application of the Final Solution, as well as a variety of responses and annihilation of victims, local populations and perpetrators.

Week 3: The End of the War
We will dedicate this lesson to the events that occurred in the last years of the Holocaust, as well as questions of memory, commemoration and future research.

We strongly recommend that you register for The Holocaust: an Introduction - Part 1 as well. Taking both parts of the course would enable you to obtain a fuller and more comprehensive knowledge about The Holocaust.

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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What topics will you cover?

  • Early solutions to the so-called “Jewish Problem”.
  • The decision upon the “Final Solution”.
  • Various killing sites and Nazi camps.
  • The universe of the camps through the eyes of the victims.
  • What and when was known about the murder in various parts of occupied Europe and the free world.
  • How did the knowledge of the murders influence reactions by Jews and non-Jews, and what were those reactions.
  • Who were the perpetrators, and how their killing operation was made possible.
  • The end of the war and the drive to continue the murder operation.
  • Liberation and its meaning to the victims.
  • The Holocaust and its effects on, and appearances in our daily lives.

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...

  • Assess historical documents and their various uses with a critical eye, including the point of view expressed in historical sources, and the limit of what can be learned from them.
  • Explore the way historians collect, evaluate and shape historical sources into historical narratives and facts.
  • Reflect on the importance of Jewish documentation.
  • Identify one’s responsibility in a world full of knowledge that is being modified and mediated, and the importance of critical thinking.
  • Investigate how the Holocaust was humanly possible.
  • Explain the way knowledge of the murders influenced reactions to it.
  • Explore the limited reactions available to Jews: “Choiceless Choices”.
  • Identify the wide range of actions that were available to perpetrators, as well as the different possibilities that stood before those who witnessed the mass murder.
  • Describe reactions of Jews and non-Jews in the “Free World”.
  • Explain the interaction between the higher ranks and grassroots that ultimately led to the development and implantations of the “Final Solution to the ‘Jewish Question’”.
  • Describe types of camps that were established under Nazi rule, and different killing methods.
  • Discuss the liberation of Europe and its meaning for the victims.
  • Debate the burden of remembrance, as well as commemoration efforts and the various influences the Holocaust has on our lives today.
  • Discuss the Holocaust within the wider contexts of Jewish History, European History, and genocide.

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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