Cynthia Paces                                                                                                                                         Fall 1999

History 238: Germany in the Twentieth Century

"Destroyed Place" by Paul Klee, Member of the Blue Rider School


Course description:

The Modern German nation has made extraordinary contributions to the world: from the great national operas of Wagner to the first science fiction films of the 1920s; from the economic analysis of Karl Marx to the economic miracle of the 1960s. Yet, those of us who study Germany always come back to the first question: how could such a modern, successful country have launched the greatest moral failure of modern history, the Final Solution. This course will look at the development of modern Germany, from the foundation of the German nation in 1870 to the present to try to reconcile this historical paradox. We will try to understand each historical period for its own sake, while always remembering to ask what events led to the rise of Hitler and the Second World War. While the Nazi era will be at the center of the course, we will devote much of our study to the periods before and after the war. How did the nation get to the age of Hitler and how did Germans recover from that dark period in their national history?

This course will analyze German history from a variety of perspectives: political, cultural, economic, and social. We will use a variety of sources, including primary and secondary literature, films, art and music to gain a fuller perspective of Germany in the modern era.


Fulbrook, Mary. Divided Nation: A History of Germany 1918-1991
Remarque, Erich Maria, All Quiet on the Western Front
Gilman, Sander and Von Eckardt, Wolf. Bertolt Brechtís Berlin
Owens, Alison. Frauen. German Women Recall the Third Reich
Browning, Christopher Ordinary Men
Ash, Timothy Garton The File
Course Packet

Grades will be based on the following factors:


Participation in classroom discussion, debates, oral presentations



Three written assignments @ 10% each (described below) 30%
Two exams @ 15% each 30%
Final exam 30%


Extra-credit: There will be a German Film Series accompanying this course. For each film you attend and about which you submit a one-page critique, I will add a point to your lowest exam grade. If you cannot attend the group showings, I encourage you to view the films on your own and write a review. Films will be shown on Tuesday nights (see attached schedule), and the review is due in class on the Friday following the showing.

Late papers: I cannot accept late papers. The course is designed so that essay assignments accompany in-class discussions. Therefore, papers MUST be turned in during the class period they are due. If there is a medical or family emergency, you must speak with me BEFORE the day the assignment is due. Since you have choices as to which assignments you complete, you will not need extensions. Simply do the next assignment. (HINT: Do not leave your chosen assignments for the last available ones of the semester, in case an emergency occurs.)

Plagiarism: This is a serious offense. If you intentionally or unintentionally use sources without crediting them properly, you will receive an automatic F for the assignment and you will be reported to the plagiarism review board. Your hearing could result in an F for the course or expulsion from the college.

Class participation: This is an integral part of this class. Your active participation in class discussions and debates, as well as your attendance in lectures will ensure a good grade for class participation as well as greater success on exams. To figure your participation grade, I will combine your grades on in-class writing assignments; debates and presentations; attendance and contributions to discussions.

E-Mail: I respond to all e-mail questions, but I DO NOT accept papers sent to me as attachments. You must print out and hand in your assignments.

WRITING ASSIGNMENTS: There are five writing assignments based on course readings described throughout the syllabus. You must do THREE of these. EVERYONE must do the All Quiet essay. Then, choose two out of the remaining four assignments.

Re-write Policy: I encourage re-writes. However, re-writes can only be completed in advance of the due date. Therefore, to qualify for a re-write, you must hand me a draft at least 2 class periods before the due date. Iíll give you back my comments in the class before the assignment is due, and you can re-write for the day the assignment is due.



Fri. 9/2: Introduction


Read: Packet "The Age of Industrialization"; Packet "Karl Marx"; Fulbrook, Ch. 1

Tues. 9/7: Creating the German Nation

Fri. 9/10: The German Sonderweg? A different path?


Read: Begin Remarque

Tues. 9/14: Toward World War

Fri. 9/17: NO Class


Read: Finish Remarque

Tues. 9/21: Germany and the First World War

Essay Due . Discussion, All Quiet on the Western Front

***Assignment: Germanyís youth experienced a profound change in their attitude toward their nation. Write a 2-3 page essay in which you explore the shift Remarque portrays in his novel, All Quiet on the Western Front. Develop a focused thesis statement and use evidence from the novel and text to back your argument. (EVERYONE MUST DO THIS ASSIGNMENT!)



Tues. 9/27: Test #1: Germany 1870-1918

Fri. 10/1: Debate preparation day. Meet with your group to prepare for Tuesdayís debate.


Read: Fulbrook, Ch. 2; Packet "Versailles Documents"

Tues. 10/5: Versailles Treaty Debate

Students will be divided into four groups and will make group presentations on the following

Group One: German position: Germany was unfairly punished at the Treaty of Versailles
Group Two: French position: Germany was the true aggressor of the war and must be punished
Group Three: British position: We must fight for a just peace.
Group Four: American position: We must make this "a war to end all wars."

After the presentations, students may respond to each othersí perspectives. Each group will
receive a grade based on: preparation, factual evidence, style of preparation.



Read: Fulbrook, Ch. 3 , Gilman and Eckardt

Tues. 10/12: Weimar Culture: Life is a Cabaret

Fri.:10/ 15: Discussion: Bertolt Brechtís Berlin

Assignment: due in class. A famous saying goes: Art imitates Life. Choose one artist in Bertolt Brechtís Berlin and explain how the art (including performing and visual arts) s/he created reflected the political situation in post-WWI Germany. (3-4 pages)


Read: Fulbrook, Ch. 4; Begin Owings, Packet "Mein Kampf"

Tues 10/19: The Great Depression

Fri. 10/22: The Triumph of the Will (In-class writing assignment, part of participation grade)


Read: Continue Owings

Tues. 10/26 : The Rise of Hitler, One Small German Town

Fri. 10/29: The Racial State


Read: Fulbrook, ch. 5; finish Owings; Begin Browning

Tues. 11/2: Discussion: Frauen

***Assignment: The role of women in German society was essential to Nazi policy. Using the interviews in Frauen , explain how the Nazis particularly appealed to or persecuted their female citizens. (3-4 pp)

Fri.: 11/5: World War, Take Two


Read: Fulbrook, Finish Browning

Tues. 11/9: The Face of Battle

Fri.: 11/12: Discussion: Ordinary Men

***Assignment: How do soldiers make moral decisions? Using Ordinary Men , examine the process through which men came to participate in the final solution. (3-4 pp)


Read: Packet "Night"

Tues.. 11/16.: The Final Solution

Fri. 11/19 Test two: Germany 1919-1945


Read: Fulbrook, Ch. 6, 7; . Packet "Nuremburg"; Begin Ash

Tues. 11/23 : Debate--The Nuremburg Trial.

The class will be divided into defense and prosecution for the accused at Nuremburg. How did the Nazis justify their participation in the Final Solution? Were any of their reasonings valid?

Fri. 11/26 : THANKSGIVING BREAK, No Class


Read: Fulbrook, Ch. 8, 9 , 10 ; Finish Ash

Tues. 11/30: Divided Germany: West and East

Fri. 12/3: Discussion of The File.

**Assignment: Based on your readings in Fulbrook and Ash, write a 3-4 page essay characterizing the East German regime. Why do you believe East Germany developed in this way? You might want to reflect on the legacy of the Nazi era in the East German regime.) Remember to develop a single argument centered on a thesis statement.


Read: Fulbrook, Ch. 11-14

Tues. 12/7: The Wall Falls Down

Fri. 12/10: Wrap-up. Germany Today.