Aspects of World History 1914-1945
Department of History
University of Ghana
J. Otto Pohl, Ph.D.
Course Description: This course focuses on the great ideological and military conflict between Nazi Germany and the USSR. It traces the origins and development of both the Nazi and Soviet regimes during the years after World War One up until the Allied Victory over Berlin on 9 May 1945. In particular it compares and contrasts the ideologies and practices of these two regimes both internally and externally during the 1930s and 1940s. A special emphasis is given to their dictatorial nature and their use of mass violence against certain defined social and ethnic groups.
Requirements: The purpose of this class is to provide a comparative understanding of the two great dictatorships of the early 20th century and their relationship to each other. In particular the class will look at World War II primarily as a conflict between Nazi Germany and the USSR. Students need to attend class regularly and do the assigned readings. Material from both the readings and the lectures will appear on the final exam. No mobile phones are to be visible during class. They are to be out of sight and turned off. Finally, I have a significant hearing loss and may have to ask people to repeat their questions or statements from time to time. You can minimize this by speaking loudly and clearly. This syllabus is tentative and subject to change.
Readings: The main text used for this class is Robert Gellately, Lenin, Stalin and Hitler: The Age of Social Catastrophe (London: Vintage Books, 2008). In addition there are four short supplementary readings which are listed below.
Elza-Bair Guchinova, “Deportation of the Kalmyks (1943-1956): Stigmatized Ethnicity” in Uyama Tomohiko, ed., Empire, Islam, and Politics in Central Eurasia, Slavic Eurasian Studies, no. 14 (Sapporo, Japan: Slavic Research Center, Hokkaido University, 2007), pp. 187-221.
Katherine R. Jolluck, “’You Can’t Even Call Them Women’: Poles and ‘Others’ in Soviet Exile during the Second World War,” Contemporary European History, vol. 10, no. 3, (Nov. 2001), pp. 463-480.
James Morris, “The Polish Terror: Spy Mania and Ethnic Cleansing in the Great Terror,” Europe-Asia Studies, vol. 56, no. 5, (July 2004), pp. 751-766.
J. Otto Pohl, Eric J. Schmaltz and Ronald J. Vossler, “’In Our Hearts We Felt the Sentence of Death’: Ethnic German Recollections of Mass Violence in the USSR, 1928-1948,” Journal of Genocide Research, vol. 11, nos. 2-3, (June-Sep. 2009), pp. 323-354.
Grading: The grade for the class will be based upon a mid-term exam and a comprehensive final essay exam at the end of the semester. The mid-term will be worth 30% of the final grade and the final exam will constitute the remaining 70% of the grade.
Week one: Introduction and Review of Syllabus
Week two: World War One, the Bolshevik Revolution and Lenin’s Reign
Read pp. 1-77 in Gellately.
Week three: The Roots and Early Development of Naziism
Read pp. 81-127 in Gellately.
Week four: The Creation of the Stalinist Regime
Read pp. 131-182 in Gellately and Pohl, Schmaltz, and Vossler pp. 323-354.
During this week I would like to show the movie Through the Red Gate
Week five: The Nazis come to Power
Read pp. 185-223 in Gellately.
Week six: Mid-term examination. The exam is worth 30% of the total grade.
Week seven: Stalin’s Reign of Terror
Read pp. 225-281 in Gellately and Morris, pp. 751-766.
Week eight: Creation of the Nazi Dictatorship
Read pp. 285-341 in Gellately.
Week nine: The Partition of Poland and the Start of World War II
Read pp. 345-410 in Gellately and Jolluck, pp. 463-480.
Week ten: The Nazi Attack on the USSR and the Holocaust
Read pp. 413-468 in Gellately.
Week eleven: The Soviet Union takes the Offensive
Read pp. 471-522 in Gellately and Guchinova, pp. 187-220.
Week twelve: The Destruction of Nazi Germany and the Triumph of the USSR
Read pp. 525-594 in Gellately.