Skip to main content


GER4014 : German Representations of the Holocaust

  • Offered for Year: 2020/21
  • Module Leader(s): Dr Beate Muller
  • Owning School: Modern Languages
  • Teaching Location: Newcastle City Campus
Semester 2 Credit Value: 20
ECTS Credits: 10.0


To introduce students to representations of the Holocaust in German culture by engaging with suitable examples including literature, film, testimony, memoir/autobiography, and historiography.
To explore and compare genre-specific aspects of Holocaust representations.
To explore the range of perspectives on the Holocaust and their developments over time, from the occupational years to more recent representations in German-speaking cultures of Europe.
To introduce students to philosophical, ethical, moral, aesthetic, and political debates about the Holocaust, such as problems of witnessing, legitimacy of subject positions, representations and representability; authenticity and authority etc.
To introduce students to suitable Holocaust-related insights from trauma studies, memory research, and genocide studies.
To introduce students to key vocabulary on the Holocaust in both English and German.

Outline Of Syllabus

1. Introduction
2. History of the Holocaust: background, war context, ideology
3. Representations of the Holocaust in cultural artefacts and in evidential genres
4. Jewish-voiced vs. ‘positivist’ historiography
5. Early postwar Holocaust testimonies:
a) David Boder’s Voices project of 1946 (examples)
b) Jewish organizations and their testimonial endeavours
c) Children's wartime recollections
6. Nazi trials and their literary echoes: The Auschwitz Trial and Peter Weiss’s play Die Ermittlung (1965)
7. The persecution of Jews on silver screen: Frank Beyer’s film Jakob der Lügner (1975)
8. A female perspective: Ruth Klüger’s autobiography Weiter leben (1992)
9. Feigning traumatic memory and the Holocaust ‘industry’: The case of Binjamin Wilkomirski’s Bruchstücke (1995)
10. Summary and conclusion

There will also be a slot on essay writing and exam preparation, as well as a tutorial for those students who submitted a practice essay.

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture161:0016:00N/A
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesSmall group teaching171:0017:00N/A
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesDrop-in/surgery31:003:00N/A
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study1164:00164:00N/A
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

The mixture of lectures and seminars will provide the opportunity for students to (1) acquire lecture-based in-depth knowledge of the significance of key characteristics of the sources and materials studied, and (2) to use this knowledge as a basis for classroom discussions of the key sources and the issues raised in the scholarship, thereby encouraging students to apply the general principles and wider knowledge acquired to the specific examples on the syllabus. Lectures will be given in German (with English lecture slides), whilst seminars will be held in English, a division which will ensure that students acquire important vocabulary in German while at the same time being able to discuss issues raised in English; this will ensure understanding.

Assessment Methods

The format of resits will be determined by the Board of Examiners

Description Length Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Written Examination602A40Closed-book exam consisting of a choice of questions, one of which has to be answered in English
Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Essay2A60A 2,250 word essay to be written either in English or German*.
Formative Assessments
Description Semester When Set Comment
Essay2MA practice essay, set in week 1, to be submitted in week 5. Length: 1,000 words.
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

*Students will have a choice whether to write the essay in English or in German

The essay will allow students to explore one topic in depth, whilst the exam will ensure that students read widely and that they are able to answer questions on a variety of relevant texts and topics. The assessments will therefore test different skills. They will establish whether students can relate acquired political, contextual and philosophical knowledge to key sources studied. The exam’s essay question (to be answered in English) will give students the opportunity to demonstrate their knowledge on the basis of a wider-ranging question.

Reading Lists