I am taking a fascinating free online course with Coursera on The Holocaust. This is the first of several posts in which I will share some of my reflections on what I am learning about the Holocaust. I have sub-titled this first post “Pre-Reflections” because here I will simply introduce the Holocaust, Coursera, and The Holocaust course.
THE HOLOCAUST. Just in case someone may read this who is unfamiliar with the term Holocaust, I will begin with a definition. The Holocaust refers to the extermination of millions of Jewish people by Adolf Hitler’s Nazi regime. This was done largely in gas chambers, but Jews were also shot, hanged, beaten, starved, and worked to death in concentration camps. The Nazis’ extermination campaign was aimed at Jews, but other undesirables were eliminated as well, including the physically disabled, the mentally ill, homosexuals, Gypsies, and political dissidents.
THE HOLOCAUST COURSERA COURSE. My present Coursera course, The Holocaust, is team-taught by two professors from the University of California at Santa Cruz: Peter Kenez, Professor Emeritus of History, and Murray Baumgarten, Distinguished Professor of English and Comparative Literature. The course lasts for 10 weeks; thus, there are 10 modules. Each of the 10 weekly modules includes these elements:
- Online lectures by the professors
- Supplementary readings: historical accounts, memoirs, novels, short stories, poems
- Supplementary films: documentaries, films based on a true story, fictional films
- Three papers to write, which are peer evaluated
- Online forums in which to engage in discussion with classmates
I am finding The Holocaust Coursera course to be excellent! I appreciate the scope of the lectures, the wide range and richness of the material, the in-depth thought required by the papers, and the opportunity to interact online with classmates from all over the globe. I also love the way the Holocaust is approached both from a historical perspective and from the perspective of its literature. Not only are we reading historical accounts of the Holocaust, but we are also reading memoirs, novels, short stories, and poems. I hadn’t realized that there is Holocaust poetry, but there is.
This completes my pre-reflections. My next several posts will reflect on what I am learning about the Holocaust.