History of the Second World War euh4280 Course Syllabus

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History of the Second World War


Course Syllabus

University of Florida: Fall, 2014

Flint 119, T/R, 5-6, 6

Dr. George Esenwein

204 Flint Hall

Office hours: Tuesdays, 9:30-11:30, Thursdays, 10:00-11:00.

Telephone: 352-273-3369

e-mail: gesenwei@ufl.edu

website: clas.ufl.edu/users/gesenwei

This course offers a historical survey of the Second World War in Europe.  Special emphasis will be placed on its origins, its social, economic, political and military aspects as well as the historical consequences it had for Europe in the second half of the twentieth century.  The focus throughout will be on Europe, though, whenever an understanding of European-centered events demands a wider perspective, the global dimensions of the war will also be taken into account. Part I. examines the background of the war. Here we shall review the major economic, ideological and diplomatic developments in post-WWI Europe that undermined the stability of Europe as a whole and which ultimately contributed to the outbreak of hostilities in 1939.  We shall also be concerned with the major events of the inter-war period – the Spanish Civil War, for example – which brought into sharper relief the forces that were leading towards a general conflict.  Part II. will concentrate on the main features of the war itself. In addition to reviewing key military engagements and campaigns, we shall be examining the ways in which the war transformed the socio-economic (war industries, daily activities, etc.)  and political life (zones of occupation, resistance movements, etc.) of Europe during the war.  Various topics, including the origins and impact of the Holocaust during the war and gender relations in the trenches and on the Home-front, will be featured in this part of the course.  The final part of the course will assess the extent to which this great conflict shaped post-war European development.

Note on prerequisites: As this is an advanced course on Europe, it is assumed that the student has a strong background in history/politics and particularly in European history. Students who are expecting a course on World War II from an American perspective should enroll in the appropriate AMH course.

Required Texts: (Paperback/Hardback editions available UF Bookstore.)

  • P.M.H. Bell, The Origins of the Second World War in Europe, Third Edition, London, 2007

  • The Holocaust/Donald L. Niewyk, Editor, 2003

  • Mark Mazower, Hitler's Empire: How the Nazis Ruled Europe.

  • The Nuremberg War Trials. A Documentary History. Michael Marrus. Bedford/St. Martins Press, 1997

  • R.A.C. Parker, The Second World War, Oxford, revised edition, 1997.*

  • *Please note that the bibliography on the Second World War is enormous. The books listed here are meant only to introduce you to some of the major themes associated with the origins, development of, and outcome of the war. Five highly informative scholarly studies that can be recommended in addition to the assigned readings are: P. Calvocoressi/Guy Wint, Total War (1972); Norman Davies, No Simple Victory: World War II in Europe, 1939-1945, 2006 (Course Reserve Library West)G. Weinberg, The World at Arms (1994), and the Oxford Companion to World War II (1995), Edited by I.C.B. Dear and M.R.D. Foot. Military buffs can consult B.H. Liddell-Hart’s, History of the Second World War (1970). 


This course is designed to allow the student to play an “interactive” role in teaching the class.  At regular intervals throughout the term, there will be individual/group panel presentations that address the main themes we have been covering.  The presentation itself can be in the form of a brief lecture, visual presentation (between 15 and 20 minutes) and/or an outline of questions that can be used as the basis of focused class discussion.  In the latter case you will be expected to lead the discussion and ask follow-up questions etc. for a 15-20 minute period. At least once during the term, each student will be required to give such a presentation on a topic of his/her own choosing as long as it relates directly to the assigned readings and lectures. (Please note that this presentation can be used as the foundation for your term essay.)



Your grade will be computed using the following formula:

2 Exams = 25% each
Panel Presentation = 20%
Term paper = 30%

1. There will be two in-class exams.

2. The term paper will be an original essay of ten double-spaced pages on any topic relating to the Second World War in Europe.  Weekly topics/themes listed below are not suitable subjects for a short term paper. You must define a specific theme that will lend itself to a paper of this length. As the bibliography on the war is enormous, the term paper should reflect an in-depth examination of the books and articles available on the subject covered (at least 12 or more sources). Students are urged to use caution in consulting websites and general reference works. In the former case, you are expected to cite all information/material gathered from that source. Papers which rely more heavily on computer-based information than on published sources will most likely receive a low grade ( C or lower.)
3. Attendance: Attendance is mandatory. Four unexcused absences will automatically lower your grade by two letters. You can take up to two absences during the term without penalty. 4. Student Code of Conduct: See Addendum at end of syllabus. 

Course Calendar:
Part I. The Road to War

Week of:

26-28 August – Introduction to the course: Making sense of the Second World War; the SWW as an historical event. WWI and its impact on European society.

2 -4 September – Inter-war Europe: the victors and the vanquished (Italy, Germany, Gt. Britain, France and Russia.)

9-11 September – Liberalism in crisis: the Bolshevik spectre and the rise of fascism in Europe (part I: the Russian Revolution and its impact, fascism in Italy.)

16-18 September –  Liberalism in crisis: the bolshevik spectre and the rise of fascism in Europe (part II. Nazism in Germany and fascism in Europe.)

23-25 September – Conflicts and crises in Spain (Spanish Civil War), Austria (Anschluss) and Czechoslovakia (Munich). Appeasement on trial.

23 September/Panel presentations.

spanis34.jpg anschlusslifemagazine.jpg  

Readings for Part I.: P.M.H. Bell, The Origins of the Second World War in Europe, (entire book); Mazower, Hitler’s Empire, Introduction, Chapters 1-3; R.A.C. Parker, The Second World War, Chapter 1.

                                                 Part II: War in Europe

30 September – 2 OctoberBlitzkrieg in Poland; The Phoney War; The Scandinavian connection; Aims and ambitions of the belligerents; The balance sheet on both sides.

7-9 OctoberExpanding the war in the West; France divided; Britain stands alone; the Balkans under siege.

14-16 OctoberThe assault on Russia: Operation Barbarossa; The US enters the war; the Mediterranean, North Africa and Middle East.

14 October/Panel presentations

21-23 October --   Europe at war: Hitler’s enemies and allies; The Allies prepare for total war: economic planning and military strategies.

21 October/First exam.

28-30 October -- Inside Europe: “fighting” on the home-front; Women as warriors; resistance movements (Poland, Yugoslavia, Russia).

28 October/Panel presentations/Outline for Term paper due (graded assignment/no late outlines accepted.)

4-6 November -- Hitler’s vision/Inside Europe: the Holocaust, Resistance movements, the role of intelligence; The tide turns: The Battle of the Seas.

11-13 November -- Opening a Second Front: the invasion of Italy and the end of fascism; D-Day and Operation Bagration.

18-20 November The End Comes: Victory in Europe (Berlin) and the Pacific (Tokyo).

18 November/Panel presentations

Readings for Part II.: R.A.C. Parker, The Second World War, Chapters 2-13, 15-17. The Holocaust, 2003 (entire book); Mazower, Hitler’s Empire, Chapters 4-16..


Part III.: The Legacy of War

25 November – 4 December Defining post-war Europe: Allied conferences; Nazism on trial; Aftermath of war; Origins of Cold War.

2 December/ Panel presentations /Term papers due/No late papers accepted.

9 December (last day of classes)  Second Exam.

Readings for Part III.: R.A.C. Parker, The Second World War, Chapter 18.; Michael Marrus, The Nuremberg War Trials (entire book); Mazower, Hitler’s Empire, Chapters 17-18.



Code of Conduct/Make-up exam policies for EUH4280
UF faculty are now being asked to provide written guidelines relating to (1) student conduct in the classroom and (2) make-up examinations. Most of these can be deduced by exercising common sense. But to avoid any misunderstandings, students enrolled in the courses listed above should take note of the following:
Code of Conduct:
(1) Cell phones must be turned off throughout the class period.

(2) Students are asked not to talk, read papers, surf the internet, and otherwise distract the class from the lectures/class discussion.

(3) Students coming in after the lecture has begun should not interrupt the professor and/or students by walking in front of classroom, re-arranging desks to gain access to seating, etc. Latecomers should therefore take a seat at the back or wherever it is possible without disturbing others.

(4) Anyone who arrives more than ten minutes after class has begun will be counted absent unless he/she has the prior approval of the instructor.

(5) Intellectual honesty: any student caught plagiarizing the written work of others and/or cheating on an exam will automatically fail the course.

Make-up exams/Late Papers:
(1) Apart from documented illness, family emergencies (immediate family only), and exceptional circumstances (to be determined by the instructor), exams will have to be taken on the assigned day. The scheduling of permitted make-up exams will be at the discretion of the instructor.

(2) All written assignments – term papers and the like – are due on the day assigned in the syllabus and/or as announced by the instructor during class. Papers must be handed into the instructor on the due date in a hard-copy format. (That is, do not send your paper as an e-mail attachment etc.) No late papers will be accepted for any reason(s).

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