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Michael Stoff, Director 305 East 23rd St, CLA 2.102, (G3600) Austin, TX 78712-1250 • 512-471-1442

Spring 2010

T C 357 • The Holocaust on Trial: Conflicts of Justice and Memory

Unique Days Time Location Instructor
43610 TTh
12:30 PM-2:00 PM
CRD 007A

Course Description

Sixty years ago in Nuremberg, the Allies conducted the first trials to prosecute Nazi crimes during WWII. In order to deal with crimes committed on a scale and in a fashion unheard of in history, the court had to develop new legal definitions. The unique crimes committed against the Jewish population could not be recognized as such and instead were prosecuted under the new term "crimes against humanity." Thus, whereas the Nuremberg Tribunals can be said to have been a moderate success in legal terms, as a forum to make the particular nature of the Nazi crimes and the suffering of its victims known to a worldwide audience it failed. It would not be until the 1960s, in a war trial of an entirely different kind (that of Adolf Eichmann in Jerusalem), that the Holocaust can be said to have entered public memory.

This course explores the tension between serving justice and preserving memory for the victims through the in-depth discussion of these and several other significant trials of groups and individual perpetrators of the Holocaust as they were conducted in a variety of countries (in particular Israel, France, and the U.S.) over the past six decades. We investigate how these cases were tried, what legal strategies were devised to define the crimes and to prosecute them (often decades after the fact). In so doing, we especially focus on what these trials did or did not do in terms of producing a public record of the harm caused to its victims. That is, we consider these trials as attempts to create a broader cultural memory of the offense, and often, of WW II as a whole. We investigate whether these public records were created at the expense of justice being served for the main victim groups and explore whose (national) memory they may have (pre) served.

Trials under consideration: the Nuremberg Tribunals, "Euthanasia" trials and the Frankfurt Auschwitz trials in West Germany, the Eichmann trial in Israel, the John “Ivan” Demjanjuk trial in the U.S., and the trials of Klaus Barbie, Bousquet, Touvier, and Papon in France.

Grading Policy

Attendance/participation 15%
Response papers (3) 15%
Class presentation 10%
Midterm exam 20%
Final research paper 40% (proposal, bibliography, outline + 1st ¶, 5% each, paper: 20%)


H. Arendt, Eichmann in Jerusalem: A Report on the Banality of Evil (1963)
L. Douglas, The Memory of Judgment: Making Law and History in the Trials of the Holocaust (2001)

A course pack with chapters from the following monographs: M. R. Marrus, The Nuremberg War Crimes Trial, 1945-46: A Documentary History (1997), M.S. Bryant, The Revenge of Power: U.S. and West German 'Euthanasia' Trials, 1945-1953 (2005), L.Bilsky, Transformative Justice: Israeli Identity on Trial (2004), C.R. Browning, Collected Memories: Holocaust History and Postwar Testimony (2003), D.W. De Mildt, In the Name of the People: Perpetrators of Genocide in the Reflection of Their Post-War Prosecution in West Germany (1996), R.J. Golsan, Vichy’s Afterlife: History and Counter-history in Postwar France (2000).

About the Professor

As a teenager, Pascale Bos dreamt of becoming a playwright, an illustrator, and an athlete, but now she just hopes to get her family, students, and colleagues to pick up running in the wonderful Austin outdoors. Her academic home is the Department of Germanic Studies, but as a comparatist, she runs the Dutch Program and teaches in the Liberal Arts Honors, Jewish Studies, Comparative Literature, European Studies, and Women’s and Gender Studies Programs. Her research focuses on the Holocaust, the memory of WW II in Europe, and on German, U.S., and Dutch Jewish literature, culture, and identity. She has published German-Jewish Literature in the Wake of the Holocaust: Grete Weil, Ruth Klüger, and the Politics of Address ( Palgave/St. Martin’s Press, 2005) and has been awarded the National Women's Studies Association Jewish Women's Studies Award and the Hadassah International Research Institute on Jewish Women Senior Research Grant.


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