The Holocaust in Film and Document

This 10 week (2.5hrs x 10 lessons) course explores the history of the Holocaust through film and document. It is not a film appreciation course as such. We attempt to answer the historical why, how, what, when and who questions of the Holocaust. Why the Jews? Why Germany and Germans? Why the 1930s-1940s? How did the Holocaust happen? What took place and when? Who was involved? We will attempt to answer these questions by exploring, chronologically, key “building blocks” leading up to and throughout the period. We will explore these components through the viewing and examination of over 30 carefully selected films and documents. You will view an array of archival Nazi era footage, film evidence submitted as part of the Australian War Crimes trials held in the 1990s as well as contextual documentaries. The source documents, including one of ‘the’ Schindler’s Lists, Nazi newspapers and books and witness testimony, are drawn from various archives located in Europe and the United States. In most cases a copy of the original document and English translation will be available. The material is devastating. The course is not recommended for children under 16 years of age. A knowledge of languages other than English is not required for this course. The course facilitator is Dr Darren O’Brien, author of the Pinnacle of Hatred the Blood Libel and the Jews (Vidal Sassoon Center for the Study of Antisemitism, and Hebrew University Magnes Press, 2011).

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Topic 1: Introductions Overview

DOCUMENT/S: Chronology/Building Blocks Powerpoint Handouts/Documents.

Topic 2: Ancient Hatred

DOCUMENT/S: Articles of the Genocide Convention and Definitions of Genocide: Pre-Nazi and Nazi Measures/Laws corollaries (Hilberg).

Topic: Scientific Racism Adolf Hitler and the Rise of the Nazi Party I 1870-1935

DOCUMENT/S: Chronology – Building Blocks Powerpoint Handouts/Documents: The Program of the NSDAP 1920, Madison Grant, The Passing of the Great Race or the Racial Basis of European History 1921 (book), Josef Hell interview with Hitler 1922, Der Stürmer (The Attacker) Jan 1928 adverts, Erwin Bauer, Eugen Fischer and Fritz Lenz, The Principles of Human Heredity and Race Hygiene, 1931 (book). 

Topic: Modernity and Fascism Adolf Hitler and the rise of the Nazi Party Rise II Nuremberg Laws/Kristallnacht Enforced Sterilization/T4 Germany 1933-1938

DOCUMENT/S: Chronology – Building Blocks Powerpoint Handouts/Documents: Law for the prevention of offspring with hereditary diseases 14 July 1933, The Nuremberg Laws 15 Sept 1935, Human Sterilization Today US pamphlet 1935, Neues Volk (New People) excerpts, Der Stürmer Ritualmord 1934 issue and translation excerpt (Pinnacle of Hatred), Hitler Letter to Bouhler and Brandt back dated to 1/9/39, Blank T4 Meldebogen Translated, Questionnaire Completed T4 Meldebogen 1940.

Topic: Outbreak of WWII The Camps and the Ghetto I 1933 - 1942

DOCUMENT/S: Chronology – Building Blocks Powerpoint Handouts/Documents: Bilderbuch Falsch-Richtig fur die Posten im der KL-Dienst (Picture book for service in the Concentration Camp) 1940, Heydrich Ghettoisation order 21 September 1939, KL Groß-Rosen – AL Brünnlitz Häftlinge Liste Frauen und Männer 18.04.1945 An ‘original’ Schindler’s List.


Topic: The Ghetto II The Camp II – Death Camp 1941-1942

DOCUMENT/S: Chronology – Building Blocks Powerpoint Handouts/Documents: Dr Wilhelm Schuppe Kiev June 1941 March 1942 Chelmno Testimony (Jakob Szlamkowicz, Berek Himelfart, Berek Sitenfeld, Israel Zygelman, Sewek Srebnik, Bocian Leib, Israel Bechatowski,1944-45).

Topic: Mobile Killing Units – The Einsatzgruppen I 1941-1942

DOCUMENT/S: Chronology – Building Blocks Powerpoint Handouts/Documents: Kazimierz Sakowicz diary excerpts Ponary, Lithuania, July to December 1941
Walther Stahlecker, Einsatzgruppen A report 22 June - 15 October 1941, Karl Jaeger, Einsatzkommando 3 of Einsatzgruppen A report - 2 July 1941 to 25 November 1941.

Topic: Mobile Killing Units – The Einsatzgruppen II 1942 –1945

DOCUMENT/S: Chronology – Building Blocks Powerpoint Handouts/Documents: Wannsee Conference Jan 1942 (in translation – review content and figures) Who was who at Wannsee, Gollanz pamphlet Dec 1942 Himmler – Kaltenbrunner-Berger Correspondence June 1943 Hellmut Schramm, Der judische Ritualmord 1943 original copy, How was it humanly possible?

Topic: The Camps III – The Death Camps - Operation Reinhard and Auschwitz 1942 -1944 Auschwitz

DOCUMENT/S: Chronology – Building Blocks Powerpoint Handouts/Documents: Himmler Poznan speech 1943 Selection of Nazi Documents on the camps Deportation, Personnel records Bibliography

Topic: The Camps IV –The Death Camps –Auschwitz

DOCUMENT/S: Chronology – Building Blocks Powerpoint Handouts/Documents: Auschwitz Calendar book, Byproducts of Mass Murder document, Reichsbank document Kurt Prufer document, Ber Mark, Scrolls of Auschwitz – Zalman Grodowski, Leib Langfus Miklós Nyiszli.

Topic: Liberation/Aftermath/Denial

DOCUMENT/S: Chronology – Building Blocks Powerpoint Handouts/Documents: The Death Marches Final Solution in the Death Camps, Deaths by Cause, Schramm online Bibliography.


Films may include the following or excerpts from the following (NOTE: films are subject to change without notice based on most suitable material relating to the topic of the week):

World at War (1974)

The Longest Hatred (1991)

Racism: A History (2007)

Selling Murder: The Killing Films of the Third Reich (1991)

Das Erbe (The Inheritance) (1935)

Schindler's List (1993)

Der Ewige Jude (The Eternal Jew) (1940)

A Film Unfinished (Warsaw Ghetto 1942), (2010)

Shoah (1985)

Ambulans (1961)

Einsatzgruppen, The Death Brigades (2010)

Serniki Ukraine pit killing (1941), (1990)

War and Remembrance (1988)

Evidence for all mankind (1945)

Inheritance (2006)

The Grey Zone (2001)


Documents, articles and artistic works used in the teaching of courses have been copied pursuant to S28 of the Copyright Act 1968 on behalf of the Australian Institute of Holocaust and Genocide Studies, 2015.