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German 387_Germany Confronts the Holocaust

A general introduction to the Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library, resources specific to this class, and information about your in-class exercise.

Our Approach to Classes at the Rubenstein Library

  • Explore and be curious!
  • Our class sessions are interactive, hands on opportunities to look at lots of materials, so take advantage of this time. Challenge yourself to look (even briefly) at items that don’t initially catch your interest you might be surprised at what you discover.
  • Our class sessions seek to be inclusive, offering multiple perspectives, viewpoints, or lived experiences, but may not include the voices of every population for a number of reasons. Let’s talk in class about the voices that aren’t being presented
  • The background, experience, and knowledge you bring to this class session are valuable .There isn’t one right interpretation of a historical document. Please listen carefully and treat everyone’s responses respectfully
  • The material you encounter in this session has the potential to be uncomfortable or upsetting.Be kind to yourself and recognize your limits.You can look at something else or take a break.
  • When working with historical documents, you may encounter racist, oppressive, or outdated language in the documents themselves or in the archival record. When we discuss these items, we will want to use terms that reflect the ways these communities describe themselves today .

Primary Source Exercise


  • Learn what kinds of material related to the Third Reich, the Holocaust, and post-World War II Germany are housed in the Rubenstein Library.
  • Gain a deeper understanding of the meaning and cultural context of a variety of primary sources.
  • Practice analyzing text and image to understand more about this historical period.


  • You will be assigned to one of four groups. Each group has been given a selection of documents in the form of PDFs, all scanned from original material housed in the Rubenstein Library.
  • Please spend some time before class downloading and looking over these documents. Note that, in addition to the scanned documents, there is a Word file with additional information that will provide helpful context regarding the source of the documents, particularly those that are part of a manuscript collection. In some cases there are typed transcripts of hand-written documents.
  • Use the Document Analysis Worksheet provided in this guide to analyze one of the documents.
  • During the class meeting, each group will assemble in a breakout room. Assign one person to be a recorder and one person to be the reporter. Spend your time together discussing all the documents. What similarities and differences do you see? How do the documents relate to themes in your course readings and lectures? Did you see anything especially surprising or interesting?
  • The class will come back together and the reporter from your group will share the main points with the group.