HIST 487 Spring 2013 The Second World War: Origins, Course, Outcomes, and Meaning (W)

1991 marked the fiftieth anniversaries of the Nazi invasion of Russia and the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. Though war had come to Europe as early as 1939, when Germany invaded Poland, after 1941 the war became a truly global conflict of unprecedented extent, ferocity, and destructiveness. As late as 1943 it still appeared that the Axis powers might win the war. But, by the end of the 1945, the bombed-out ruins of Germany and Japan were occupied by the Allies, who were preparing to put the surviving Axis leaders and generals on trial for war crimes.
This tutorial will concentrate on a number of important questions and issues which arise from a study of World War II. What were the origins of this central event of the twentieth century? How and why did the war begin? Why did the war take the course it did? What were the most crucial or decisive episodes or events? How did the Allies win? Why did the Axis lose? Could the outcome have been different? Many of the topics examined will also have to deal with important questions of human responsibility and with the moral or ethical dimensions of the war. Why did France, Britain, and the Soviet Union not stop Hitler earlier? Who was to blame for the fall of France and the Pearl Harbor fiasco? Why did the Allies adopt a policy of extensive firebombing of civilian targets? How could the Holocaust have happened? Could it have been stopped? Did the Atomic bomb have to be dropped? Were the war crime trials justified? By the end of the tutorial, students will have become thoroughly familiar with the general course the war followed as well as acquiring in-depth knowledge of the most decisive and important aspects of the conflict. Students will also have grappled with the task of systematically assessing what combinations of material and human factors can best explain the outcomes of the major turning points of the war. Students will also have dealt with the problem of assessing the moral and ethical responsibility of those persons, organizations, and institutions involved in the war.
Class Format: tutorial; each student will write and present orally an essay of approx. 7 double-spaced pages every other week on a topic assigned by the instructor; students not presenting an essay have the responsibility of critiquing the work of their colleague
Requirements/Evaluation: weekly essays and critiques and a final written exercise
Additional Info: not available for the Gaudino option
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Prerequisites: none; open to all
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Divisional Attributes: Division II, Writing Intensive
Other Attributes: HIST Group C Electives - Europe and Russia
Enrollment Limit: 10
Expected Enrollment: 10
Class Number: 3557
HIST487-T1(S) TUT The Second World War (W) Division 2: Social StudiesWriting Intensive James B. Wood
TBA 3557
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