Hist 356: Twentieth-Century Germany (Fall 2021)

Draft. See course Canvas or syllabus distributed in class for official version.

Syllabus – Hist 356: Twentieth-Century Germany

Professor: Dr. Benjamin Bryce

Term: Fall 2021 (2021W, 1)

Time: Tuesdays and Thursdays, 11:10-12:10

Location: Tuesdays, Chemistry C126; Thursdays, School of Population and Public Health, B151

Office Hours: Tuesdays and Thursdays, 15:00-15:45 in person, via Skype, by telephone, and by appointment

Course Description: This course explores German history over the course of the twentieth century, focusing on the establishment and transformation of many political, social, and economic regimes on roughly one territory. The course aims to provide an understanding of German history and Germany’s place in Europe and the world as well as to strengthen students’ knowledge of topics such as state formation, nationalism, gender, wartime experience, genocide, and political ideologies. Through a combination of lectures, secondary sources, and primary documents, students will gain a comprehensive understanding of the course themes.


HIST 356 L01: Fridays, 10:00-11:00

HIST 356 L02: Fridays, 12:00-13:00

HIST 356 L03: Fridays, 15:00-16:00

HIST 356 L04: Fridays; 13:00-14:00

Learning Objectives:

By the end of the course, students will be able to:

  • Describe and debate the history of Germany.
  • Identify and discuss the connections between local, national, and global history.
  • Demonstrate a capacity for analyzing and contextualizing historical sources.
  • Use films, novels, and secondary sources to understand the past.

Course Structure: Class time in this course will be divided between lectures and group discussions of assigned reading. Tuesdays will consist of a lecture, and Thursdays will consist of a brief lecture and the discussion of primary documents. The Friday tutorials will be dedicated to a discussion of the assigned secondary readings.

Required Readings:

Students will need to acquire three books. They are available at the UBC Bookstore, and the Remarque and Funder books can easily be found second hand. There are also several digitized documents to be read on a weekly basis, and hyperlinks to each one are included in the weekly descriptions starting on page 3.

Mary Fulbrook. A History of Germany 1918-2020: The Divided Nation, 5th Edition. Wilely-Blackwell, 2021 (fourth edition also acceptable).

Erich Maria Remarque. All Quiet on the Western Front (any edition).

Anna Funder. Stasiland: Stories from Behind the Berlin Wall (any edition).


Lecture and tutorial attendance and participation, 20%

Assignment 1: Historical film analysis, 1,200 words, October 7, 20%

Assignment 2: Historiographic research essay, 3000-4000 words, November 18, 30%

Assignment 3: Take-home exam, December 14, 30%

Lecture and tutorial attendance and participation. Students are expected to attend and participate in all eleven tutorials and in the Thursday discussions of primary documents. Evaluation will be based on a demonstrated mastery of the readings. Students are required to read an average of 75 pages per week.

To prepare for both the Thursday lecture and the Friday tutorial, students should read the assigned materials thoroughly and come prepared to state their own views about the work and engage with those of other students. Quality of insight into the readings will be assessed by the tutorial leader according to the student’s depth of analysis into and clear engagement with specific ideas from the text and in response to the questions asked by the tutorial leader. Active engagement in the discussion will be assessed according to the student’s engagement with other students’ ideas, volume of contributions, and general collegiality in the classroom. If actively participating in class discussions is difficult for you, please come and talk to me. You may also visit the Centre for Accessibility for more assistance. Through tutorial, students will reinforce information presented in readings and assess arguments and sources.

Assignment 1: Historical film analysis. 1,200 words. Students are to analyze any German-language film that depicts the past, and they are encouraged to draw from the suggested films included in this syllabus (see page 3). Students should also answer the question: What historical narrative does the film present? To help answer this, students are required to consult and cite at least two scholarly sources about the period depicted in the film.

Due: In class, in paper form, stapled on Thursday, October 7, Week 5.

For information on how the papers will be graded, see the rubric at end of syllabus.

Assignment 2: Historiographic research essay. 3,000-4,000 words. Students will be asked to write a historiographic research essay. Students must identify and analyze a topic in the history of Germany. They are to draw from at least ten publications (books, articles, or chapters in edited volumes). Outside research is required, and at least ten books, articles, or chapters not assigned in this course must be examined. Students can analyze research assigned in class, but it must be in addition to ten other publications.

Due: In class, in paper form, stapled, on Thursday, November 18, Week 11.

For information on how the papers will be graded, see the rubric at end of syllabus.

Assignment 3: Take-home exam. Students will be asked to answer two questions in essay form. Evaluation will be based on the demonstrated mastery of lectures and readings, and questions will be broad enough to allow students to discuss several weeks of readings and lectures. It will be graded based on the following criteria: accuracy of information: 45%; breadth of information from course content: 35%; coherence of answers/essays: 20%.

This is a take-home exam. Due: on Tuesday, December 14. To be submitted in paper form, stapled, to Dr. Bryce in Buchanan Tower, office 1102.

Movies: Students are encouraged to watch the following films over the course of the semester, and they can be used for assignment 1. Films such as these provide an opportunity to learn more about German history and the way that contemporary German society conceptualizes the past. These films touch on many of the topics in this course, and they will bring you closer to German culture. Germany has a vibrant film industry, and history figures prominently in it.

Das weiße Band (The White Ribbon) (2009)

Die Blechtrommel (The Tin Drum) (1979)

Sophie Scholl: Die letzten Tage (Sophie Scholl: The Final Days) (2005)

Der Untergang (Downfall) (2004)

Der Baader Meinhof Komplex (The Baader Meinhof Complex) (2008)

Der Himmel über Berlin (Wings of Desire) (1987)

Das Leben der Anderen (The Lives of Others) (2006)

Nirgendwo in Afrika (Nowhere in Africa) (2001)

Good Bye, Lenin! (2003)

Gegen die Wand (Head-on) (2004)

Der junge Karl Marx (The Young Karl Marx) (2017)

Course Overview:

Week 1: September 7 and 9 – Course introduction

Imagine Day. September 7. No class. Course begins on Thursday, September 9.

Thursday readings:

  • Mary Fulbrook, Chapter 1. “The Course of German History,” 1-12

No tutorial this week. No tutorial readings.

Week 2: September 14 and 16 – Germany, Europe, and the World, 1871-1914

Thursday readings:

Tutorial #1 readings:

Last day to withdraw from course without financial penalty and without W standing on transcript. September 20.

Week 3: September 21 and 23 – Empire and Colonialism

  • Class only meets on Tuesday, September 21 and Friday tutorials.
  • Professor attending a conference.
  • No lecture on Thursday. Thursday readings will be incorporated into Tuesday lecture.

Tuesday readings:

Tutorial # 2 readings:

Week 4: September 28 and 30 – German Emigration

Tutorial #3 readings:

  • Erich Maria Remarque. All Quiet on the Western Front (any edition). First half.

Week 5: October 5 and 7 – World War I

Thursday readings:

Tutorial #4 readings:

  • Erich Maria Remarque. All Quiet on the Western Front (any edition). Finish.

Assignment 1: Historical film analysis. Due in lecture on Thursday, October 7

Week 6: October 12 and 14 – Weimar Germany: A Cultural History

Thursday readings:

Tutorial #5 readings:

  • Chapter 2. “The Weimar Republic: Origins and Orientations,” 15-41.
  • Chapter 3. “The Collapse of Democracy and the Rise of Hitler,” 42-59.

Week 7: October 19 and 21 – Eugenics and the Racial State

Thursday readings:

 Tutorial #6 readings:

  • Chapter 4, “A ‘National Community’? State, Economy and Society, 1933–1939,” 60-84.

 Week 8: October 26 and 28 – World War II and The Holocaust

Thursday Readings:

Tutorial #7 readings:

  • Chapter 5, “War, Extermination and Defeat,” 85-118.

Last day to withdraw from course with W standing on transcript. October 29.

Week 9: November 2 and 4 – The Cold War in a Divided Germany

Thursday readings:

Tutorial #8 readings:

  • Part II, “The Divided Nation: The Two Germanies, 1945–1990,” 119-120.
  • Chapter 6, “Occupation and Division, 1945–49,” 121-151.
  • Chapter 7, “Crystallization and Consolidation, 1949–61,” 152-174.

Week 10: November 9 and 11

  • No class Tuesday
  • Midterm break starts Wednesday, November 10
  • No tutorial this week

Week 11: November 16 and 18 – West Germany

Thursday readings:

Tutorial #9 readings:

  • Chapter 8, “Transformation and the ‘Established Phase’, 1961–88,” 175-194.
  • Chapter 9, “Diverging Societies,” 195-213.

Historiographic research essay. Due in class on Thursday, November 18

Week 12: November 23 and 25 – East Germany

Thursday readings:

  • Anna Funder. Stasiland: Stories from Behind the Berlin Wall (any edition). First half.

Tutorial #10 readings:

  • Chapter 11, “Dissent and Opposition,” 231-251.
  • Chapter 13, “The East German Revolution and the End of the Postwar Era,” 274-296.

Week 13: November 30 and December 2 – Reunification and the Berliner Republik

Thursday readings:

  • Anna Funder. Stasiland: Stories from Behind the Berlin Wall (any edition). Finish.

Tutorial #11 readings:

  • Part III, “The Divided Century,” 297-298.
  • Chapter 14, “The Berlin Republic,” 299-324.

The common cold and COVID-19: As part of the return to campus guidance set out by the provincial government and UBC, any student with any COVID-like symptom is asked to stay away from campus. This may increase the number of absences. If fewer than three weeks in this course, students are asked to inform their instructors, but no documentation is required. If more than three weeks are missed, students are to fill out a self-declaration form and request an academic concession. Staying home and keeping everybody safe will have no bearing on your mark. Participation grading will accommodate these absences and grades will be based on participation in the days attended. The final exam is structured in such a way that missing some lectures will not have an undue impact on students’ ability to answer an essay question.

Lateness penalty: Assignments are due in class on the date specified in this syllabus. If an assignment is not handed in in class, it is considered a day late. The late submission of an assignment will be penalized in an exponential manner. For each day an assignment is late, the penalty will be as follows: 1%, 2%, 4%, 8%, 16%, 32%, 64%, 100%. No assignments will be accepted after eight days without a self-declaration form for an academic concession.

Illness and extenuating circumstances: If you have an illness (in light of the current policies on the common cold and COVID-19) or extenuating circumstances that will prevent you from submitting your assignment on time, extensions can be granted and late penalties can be waived or lessened. However, for this, you must discuss your situation with Dr. Bryce (rather than your tutorial leader) before the due date or fill out an academic concession from the Faculty of Arts.

Academic Concessions: If you miss marked coursework for the first time (assignment, exam, presentation, participation in class) and the course is still in-progress, speak with me to find a solution for your missed coursework. If this is not the first time you have requested concession or classes are over, fill out Arts Academic Advising’s online academic concession form, so that an advisor can evaluate your concession case. If you are a student in a different faculty, please consult your faculty’s webpage on academic concessions, and then contact me if appropriate.

Illness and absences: Notify me as soon as possible if a serious illness or other concern is affecting your ability to keep up with the course. It is also wise to contact the UBC Wellness Centre or your Faculty’s academic advising office if you are experiencing academic or personal difficulties.

Managing your mental health: You may be developing feelings of fear, stress, worry, and isolation. Everyone reacts differently to these feelings and they can be overwhelming. If you need help in coping with these feelings, here are some articles and resources compiled by UBC that will guide you in managing your mental health.

Submission of late assignments: To submit a late assignment, hand in a paper version of your essay to the mailbox labelled “Bryce” in the Department of History before 16:30 on a weekday. Once you hand in the paper version, send your teaching assistant an e-mail and a digital copy of your essay so that we know to look for it in my departmental mailbox. If you wish to hand in an assignment on a weekend or after hours, send your teaching assistant your assignment via e-mail and then hand in the hardcopy on the next business day. The Department of History will not be held responsible for any late assignments that go missing. Be sure to retain a copy of your paper and keep all your notes and drafts. If you have extenuating circumstances that will prevent you from submitting your assignment on time, discuss your situation with me in advance of the due date.

Canvas: This course uses Canvas. Detailed descriptions of the assignments are posted on Canvas. Students should check this site regularly.

Evaluation of written work: Assignments will be returned accompanied by comments noting areas that need attention. Assignments will only be returned to the writer. Questions about grades cannot be answered effectively by e-mail and students should instead come to the instructor’s office hours. If you ask for an assignment to be reconsidered, note that your grade could go either up or down.

E-mail policy: Please use e-mail to communicate with us only for administrative matters. Please come to the scheduled office hours to address questions that you have, raise them in class, or chat with your instructor before or after class. If you cannot meet during our scheduled office hours, please e-mail us to set up an alternative appointment. We will respond to e-mails within 48 hours, so please do not leave your inquiries to the last minute. Please take the time to compose a formal e-mail. Assignments will not be accepted by email. Please use your UBC e-mail address to communicate with us, and please check this e-mail account regularly to receive updates about this course.

Writing Centres: Take advantage of the free services offered at the Centre for Writing and Scholarly Communication (https://learningcommons.ubc.ca/improve-your-writing/).

Technology etiquette during class time: Please put cellphones on silent and only use them for emergencies. It is inappropriate to surf the web or send text messages during any class at the University of British Columbia.

Academic Honesty and Plagiarism: Authors do not cite sources properly merely to avoid accusations of plagiarism but also to establish credibility, bring other work to the reader’s attention, and demonstrate competing viewpoints. For more on the use of citations, see the History Department’s guidelines: http://www.history.ubc.ca/content/common-questions-about-citations

The University of British Columbia takes academic honesty very seriously.  Any suspected cases of plagiarism will be investigated and academic offences could lead to permanent expulsion from UBC. More information on the University’s procedures on academic offences can be found here: http://www.calendar.ubc.ca/vancouver/index.cfm?tree=3,54,111,959

The code of academic conduct disallows the following:

  • Plagiarism, which the university defines as an individual submitting or presenting the oral or written work of another person as his or her own.
  • Submitting the same, or substantially the same, essay, presentation, or assignment more than once (whether the earlier submission was at this or another institution) unless prior approval has been obtained from the instructor(s) to whom the assignment is to be submitted.

Accessibility and Accommodations: Students with diverse learning styles and needs are welcome in this course. If you have an accessibility or health consideration that may require course format accommodation, please feel free to approach me to discuss your needs.  If you require accommodations for a disability or for religious observance or if you have accessibility concerns about the course, the classroom, or course materials, please contact me or the Centre for Accessibility (https://students.ubc.ca/about-student-services/centre-for-accessibility).

Student Conduct: The University of British Columbia is a community of students, faculty and staff involved in learning, teaching, research and other activities. In accordance with the UBC Respectful Environment Statement, all members of this community are expected to conduct themselves in a manner that contributes positively to an environment in which respect, civility, diversity, opportunity and inclusiveness are valued, so as to assure the success of both the individual and the community. The Student Code of Conduct reflects a concern for these values and tries to ensure that members of the University and the public can make use of and enjoy the activities, facilities and benefits of the University without undue interference from others. The university’s policy and procedures involving disruptive and/or harassing behaviour by students in academic situations is available on this website:


UBC Values: UBC provides resources to support student learning and to maintain healthy lifestyles but recognizes that sometimes crises arise and so there are additional resources to access including those for survivors of sexual violence. UBC values respect for the person and ideas of all members of the academic community. Harassment and discrimination are not tolerated nor is suppression of academic freedom. UBC provides appropriate accommodation for students with disabilities and for religious and cultural observances. UBC values academic honesty and students are expected to acknowledge the ideas generated by others and to uphold the highest academic standards in all of their actions. Details of the policies and how to access support are available here: https://senate.ubc.ca/policiesresources-support-student-success

Rubric for Historical film analysis and Historiographic research essay

Poor (F-D) – Under 59% Fair (C- C+) – 60-69% Good (B) – 70-79% Excellent (A) – 80% and up
Analysis. 45% Analysis is incomplete. Does not present enough evidence Summarizes material. Analysis is not comprehensive and/or persuasive. No clear argument or goal. Analysis is accurate and persuasive. Contains a thesis statement but it does not advance a compelling, original argument throughout the paper. Analysis is comprehensive, accurate and persuasive. Argument is clear and supported throughout.
Structure. 35% Does not follow the conventions of an academic essay. Specific examples are not used, no quotations. Contains a weak introduction. Sources are cited, but often paraphrased. The content of the sources is misunderstood or misrepresented. Contains clear introduction, body, and conclusion. Sources are often paraphrased. Evidence not used in order to advance a clear point. Contains clear introduction, body, and conclusion. Paragraphs have clear topic sentences. Sources are quoted and analyzed and used to advance main argument.
Style and grammar. 10% There are numerous stylistic and grammatical issues that make paragraphs difficult to understand. There are several stylistic and grammatical issues. Spell check was not used, and  the author did not re-read/revise the text enough. Grammar is good, but some words and concepts are misused. Some minor grammatical errors that would have been caught with an extra reading by the author. The essay is polished.
Bibliography and citation. 10% Poor and insufficient citation. Attempts to follow the Chicago Manual of Style, but there are numerous formatting issues. No distinction between the footnotes and bibliography in terms of formatting. Follows the Chicago Manual of Style well, and the paper distinguishes between formatting differences of footnotes and bibliography. There are minor errors in italicization and punctuation. Follows the Chicago Manual of Style perfectly, and the paper distinguishes between formatting differences of footnotes and bibliography.