Course Syllabus

REL3194: The Holocaust

Instructor Information Table
Dr. Oren B. Stier

 Instructor Information

This course was created with the support of a Mellon Infusion Grant offered by The Wolfsonian–FIU.

Course Time Zone | Eastern Time (ET). Course due dates are according to this time zone.

General Information Section
Course Description and Purpose

The Holocaust, the systematic destruction of Jews and Jewish life by the Nazi regime prior to and during World War II, was a watershed event in human history that irrevocably impacted our thinking about humanity, including but not limited to how we reflect on religion, war, society, ethics, morality, culture, and more. The Holocaust was an assault on Jews, Judaism, and Jewish identity, but it was more than that as well; learning about the Holocaust, its causes, and its legacies, teaches us much about the world in which we live today. In light of recent increases in antisemitism, hate speech, and racially motivated violence, understanding the past and its impact on the present has become even more essential.

This fully online course aims to answer many questions people have about the Holocaust—not only what it was, but what led to it and how the world dealt with its aftermath. A specific focus of the course is on relations between Jews and Christians before, during, and after the Nazi era, across time and space in regions such as the Middle East, Europe, and the US. This is not a class on the history of the Holocaust itself, though a basic familiarity with the facts of the Nazi assault on Jewry will be necessary. Students without such a background may wish to read any one of a number of works on Holocaust history on their own to supplement their knowledge (extra credit may be available).

This class is also infused with material from The Wolfsonian-FIU collection, which provides critical visual and material cultural background to and context for the rise of Nazism: a clear understanding of the power of images and visual branding is critical for comprehending Nazi ideology.

The subject of the course is engaging, disturbing, and taxing: sensitivity and thoughtfulness are essential throughout! Since this is an online course, all of the coursework is done outside of the classroom, much of it at the student’s own pace, on a week-to-week basis (the week runs Monday-Sunday).

This is a Discipline-specific, Global Learning course that counts toward your FIU Global Learning graduation requirement.

Course Objectives

Upon completion of this course, students will be able to:

  • CLO 1. Examine the Holocaust in historical, religious, and cultural contexts.
  • CLO 2. Recognize prejudice, intolerance, and hate and formulate a concrete action plan in response.
  • CLO 3. Describe long-standing causes and lingering effects of the Holocaust and antisemitism and relate them to today’s world.
  • CLO 4. Examine your own biases, learn to overcome them, take time to become more self-aware, and demonstrate that self-awareness.
  • CLO 5. Decipher textual, verbal, and visual examples of Holocaust propaganda, correlating them to contemporary examples, and prepare to combat them.
  • CLO 6. Identify the complex interconnections among historical, religious, social, political, and cultural factors that led to the Holocaust (GLO: Global Awareness).
  • CLO 7. Analyze from several perspectives the experiences of people involved in the Holocaust (GLO: Global Perspective).
  • CLO 8. Reflect on and respond to the legacies of the Holocaust and its global impact in the present and their own lives (GLO: Global Engagement).

Importation Information Section

Before starting this course, please review the following pages:

Course Prerequisites

There are no prerequisites for this course.

Required Textbook and Course Materials

Textbook Table

Approaches to Auschwitz: The Holocaust and Its Legacy

Richard L. Rubenstein and John K. Roth
Louisville: John Knox Press, 2003, revised ed. (Make sure you purchase this edition only!)
ISBN-13: 9780664223533
You may purchase your textbook online at the FIU Bookstore and at all the usual venues.
This book is also available electronically from the FIU Libraries for unlimited online reading and restricted downloads (must first log in via EZproxy).

Sources of the Holocaust, 2nd Edition

Steve Hochstadt
Bloomsbury Academic (February 23, 2023) (Make sure you purchase this edition only!)
ISBN-13: 978-1350328044

You may purchase your textbook online at the FIU Bookstore and at all the usual venues.

Survival in Auschwitz: The Nazi Assault on Humanity

Primo Levi, trans. Stuart Woolf 
NY: Touchstone Books, 1996
ISBN-13: 9780684826806
You may purchase your textbook online at the FIU Bookstore and at all the usual venues.
This book is also available at the Green Library reserve desk.


Elie Wiesel
NY: Hill and Wang; 2006, revised ed. (This is the required edition)
ISBN-13: 9780374500016
You may purchase your textbook online at the FIU Bookstore and at all the usual venues.


Additional Required Readings provided via Canvas:

  • Franklin H. Littell, The Crucifixion of the Jews: The Failure of Christians to Understand the Jewish Experience (NY: Harper and Row, 1975; reprint Macon, GA: Mercer University Press, 1996), excerpts.
  • New Testament Gospel excerpts.
  • Steven Katz, typology of religious responses to the Holocaust.
  • Selection of online readings/links.

Expectations of this Course

This is a fully online course: all the course work will be conducted online through asynchronous weekly assignments. Expectations for performance in an online course are the same for a traditional course. In fact, online courses require a degree of self-motivation, self-discipline, and technology skills which can make these courses more demanding for some students.

Students are expected to:

  • Review the getting started page located in the course modules;
  • Introduce yourself to the class during the first week by posting a self-introduction in the appropriate discussion;
  • Take the practice quiz to ensure that your computer is compatible with the learning management system, Canvas;
  • Interact online with instructor and peers;
  • Review and follow the course calendar and weekly outlines;
  • Log in to the course at least 3 times per week;
  • Respond to emails within 2 days;
  • Submit assignments by the corresponding deadline.

The instructor will:

  • Log in to the course at least 3 times per week;
  • Respond to emails within 48 hours (not counting Sabbaths and Jewish holidays);
  • Grade and/or provide feedback on assignments within 7 days of the deadline.

Course Detail Section

Course Communication

Communication in this course will take place via the Canvas Inbox. Check out the Canvas Conversations Tutorial or Canvas Guide to learn how to communicate with your instructor and peers using Announcements, Discussions, and the Inbox. I will respond to all correspondences within 48 hours (not counting Sabbaths and Jewish holidays).


The course is divided into five modules. 

  • Module 0: Welcome, Orientation, and Introduction: We discuss the general background of the Holocaust as well as key questions and theories central to the course (week 1).
  • Module 1: Before the Nazi Era: We discuss the historical and religious issues and events that led up to the Holocaust (weeks 2-4).
  • Module 2: Nazism and the “Final Solution:” We discuss life under the Nazi regime and in the ghettos and camps (weeks 5-8).
  • Module 3: The End of WWII: Ethics and Experience: We discuss Jewish and Christian responses to the Holocaust and issues relating to ethics, resistance, and survival (weeks 9-11).
  • Module 4: After the Nazi Era: Reflecting on the Holocaust: We discuss liberation, survivor “guilt” and silence, life in the aftermath, Christian and Jewish theological responses, the moral legacy of the Holocaust, and contemporary remembrance issues and activities (weeks 12-14).


There are 4 surveys for the course. There will be Intro and Exit questionnaires that are meant to help me (and you!) gauge what you know (not what you can look up)! A discussion opportunity will be provided to introduce yourself to your instructor and peers. And lastly, a survey to poll students as to their professional inclinations. Survey assignments are graded based on completion and are worth 4% of the overall course grade.


Students will complete 7 quizzes. Each quiz consists of 10 multiple-choice and true/false questions. You will have 10 minutes to complete each quiz and 3 attempts, with the highest score kept as the final grade. The material covered in each quiz is indicated in the course calendar.

Each quiz is meant to be taken at the end of the week in which it appears to allow sufficient time to learn the material and for multiple attempts. (Quiz #1 will be open an extra week to accommodate late registrations.) There will be no extensions on the quizzes. It is recommended you attempt the quiz for the first time soon after completing the week’s readings and videos; if you are not satisfied with your grade, review the material and take it again over the weekend. You may attempt each quiz up to three times, but the questions will vary with each attempt.

Quizzes are automatically graded and results are available immediately upon completion. The lowest quiz grade will be discarded, and the six remaining quizzes will apply to the final course grade. Each remaining quiz is worth 3% of your final grade; totaling 18% of your final course grade.

Note: Respondus Lockdown Browser is required for all assessments. For more info, read How to Take a Quiz with the Respondus Lockdown Browser.

In order to mitigate any issues with your computer and online assessments, it is very important that you take the "Practice Quiz" from each computer you will be using to take your graded quizzes and exams. It is your responsibility to make sure your computer meets the minimum hardware requirements.

All assessments will auto-submit when (1) the timer runs out OR (2) the closing date/time is reached, whichever happens first. For example, if a quiz has a closing time of 5:00 pm but the student begins the exam at 4:55 pm, the student will only have 5 minutes to complete the quiz.

Assessments in this course are not compatible with mobile devices and should not be taken through a mobile phone or a tablet. If you need further assistance please contact FIU Canvas Help Team.

Journal Reflections

The Journal Reflection assignments are individual and are read only by the professor. They are opportunities to reflect on course readings, lectures, videos, and other required materials and to tell me about your experiences in the course. As formative assessments, they help build understanding and demand less evaluation than the summative assessments in the course.

In order to receive full credit for each Journal Reflection, you must write at least a paragraph (minimum 6 sentences) in response to the assignment prompt, you must include at least one properly cited quotation from the assigned reading to which the prompt refers, and you must submit it by the deadline. Half credit or no credit for each Journal Reflection may also be awarded, based on the quality of the response and its adherence to these guidelines.

Review the assignment description for further details. Grades will be available within 7 days of the due date.

Complexity of Complicity

This assignment, worth 6% of your final course grade, will consist of two parts: a Persuall assignment followed by a discussion assignment. Materials will be provided. Review the assignment descriptions and rubric attached to the assignments for further details. Grades will be available within 7 days of the due date.

Visual Culture Discussions

The course includes 3 required special recorded lectures addressing Visual Culture and the Holocaust: students will view these lectures and post to the three distinct Visual Culture Discussions (VCDs) over the course of the semester, as indicated in the course calendar. There are three sequential, numbered VCDs; each VCD lasts three weeks, and students are expected to post and reply multiple times in each numbered VCD. The entire Visual Culture Discussions assignment is worth 20% of your final course grade (6% each for VCD 1 and 2 and 8% for VCD 3) and will be graded according to the Discussion Rubric (Global Engagement assessment). There will be no extensions on the Visual Culture Discussions final deadline, and failure to post by the interim deadlines will result in reduced scores on the rubric.

Review the rubric attached to the discussion boards for further details. Grades will be available within 7 days of the due date.

Keep in mind that your discussion forum postings will likely be seen by other members of the course. Care should be taken when determining what to post.

Essay: What Is the Jewish Question?

An essay on the “Jewish Question” of about 1000 words concludes Module 1. It is worth 10% of your final course grade and will be graded according to the Essay Rubric (Global Awareness assessment).

The essay will be submitted with Turnitin via Canvas. For more info, read How to Submit a Turnitin Assignment. Review the assignment description and rubric attached to the assignment for further details. Grades will be available within 7 days of the due date.

Comparative Essay Assignment

A comparative essay assignment on human relationships during the Holocaust of about 1500 words concludes Module 3 of the course. The entire assignment is worth 14% of your final course grade; the essay portion (10%) will be graded according to the Essay Rubric (Global Perspective assessment). A preliminary writing assignment in which students identify and discuss the quotations to be used in the essay precedes the essay deadline and is worth 4%. 

The essay will be submitted with Turnitin via Canvas. For more info, read How to Submit a Turnitin Assignment. Review the assignment description and rubric attached to the assignment for further details. Grades will be available within 7 days of the due date.

Final Project

There will be a final project in collaboration with The Wolfsonian-FIU using digitized materials from their collection that is worth 12% of the final course grade. More details TBA.  There is no final examination in the course.


All student work will be assigned numerical grades, corresponding to the following letter grades, according to the criteria below.  Final grades will be calculated according to the percentages outlined below and converted to final letter grades for the course.

Course Grades Distribution Table

Course Requirements

Number of Items

Points for Each

Total Points Available

Weight %


4 1 4 4%

Quizzes (lowest score dropped)

6 out of 7 10 60 18%

Essay: What Is the Jewish Question?

1 10 10 10%

Comparative Essay Assignment

1 10 10 10%

Comparative Essay: Primary Source Quotations

1 4 4 4%

Visual Culture Discussions

3 varies 20 20%

Journal Reflections

8 2 16 16%

Complexity of Complicity

2 10 20 6%

Final Project

1 100 100 12%


26 N/A 244 100%


Letter Grade Distribution Table







A 93 or above B 83 - 87 C 70 - 76
A- 90 - 92 B- 80 - 82 D 60 - 69
B+ 88 - 89 C+ 77 - 79 F 59 or less


Course Regulations and Expectations

  • Readings must be completed and online lectures viewed during the week they are assigned.
    • Careful preparation of readings and attention to lectures are essential for comprehension, participation, and overall performance!
  • Policies on due dates:
    • All assignments are due by 11:59 pm on Fridays unless otherwise noted
      • As a courtesy, all assignments remain open for a 24-hour grace period to accommodate late submissions, technical difficulties, and the like; assignments close at 11:59 pm on Saturdays.  Students wishing to submit any assignment after the end of the grace period for any reason must contact the professor and explain their request.
      • Online quizzes are designed to be attempted after completing the assigned readings and viewing videos each week as indicated in the course calendar. I recommend students attempt each quiz for the first time early in the week it is assigned. Each quiz may be attempted up to three times (questions vary with each attempt). 
        • Reminder: The lowest quiz score out of the seven required quizzes will be dropped from the final grade calculation.
  • You are expected to be honest in all academic work, consistent with the academic integrity policy as outlined in the Code of Student Conduct. Plagiarism and any and all forms of academic dishonesty will not be tolerated. Plagiarism is stealing someone else’s words or original ideas. All work is to be appropriately cited when it is borrowed, directly or indirectly, from another source. Unauthorized and/or unacknowledged collaboration on any work, or the presentation of someone else’s work, is plagiarism.
    • Plagiarism occurs in the following forms: (1) uncredited quotations (including words copied from elsewhere but not bracketed by quotation marks and quotations without proper citations and documentation) and (2) uncredited paraphrases.
    • Content generated by an Artificial Intelligence third-party service or site (AI-generated content) is another form of plagiarism. Since writing, analytical, and critical thinking skills are part of the learning outcomes of this course, all writing assignments should be prepared by the student. Developing strong competencies in this area will prepare you for a competitive workplace. Therefore, AI-generated submissions are not permitted and will be treated as plagiarism. 
    • To avoid plagiarism, students must properly cite the source material and must refrain from using AI-generated content. Only commonly known facts and concepts, general material learned in the course of research and study, and students’ original ideas do not require citation. Students found violating standards risk receiving a grade of 0 on the assignment in question, may fail the course, and may be reported directly to the Office of Academic Affairs. 
    • If you are unsure about whether something may be plagiarism or another form of academic dishonesty, please reach out to me to discuss it as soon as possible.
    • For useful guidelines, go to the Plagiarism Prevention section on the FIU Library’s website.
  • FIU’s Center for Excellence in Writing offers free services. Take advantage of them!
  • Extra Credit for pre-approved writing activities may be available for the diligent student. Further guidelines will be provided.
    • Extra credit essays are due no later than the last day of regular classes.

Course Summary:

Date Details Due