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Unit information: History, Law and Memory: The Holocaust on Trial (Level H Reflective History) in 2015/16

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Unit name History, Law and Memory: The Holocaust on Trial (Level H Reflective History)
Unit code HIST38013
Credit points 20
Level of study H/6
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 2 (weeks 13 - 24)
Unit director Dr. Dudley
Open unit status Not open




School/department Department of History (Historical Studies)
Faculty Faculty of Arts

Description including Unit Aims

This Reflective History unit explores the relationship between history, law and memory, by taking a series of high profile trials related to the Holocaust as the starting point for broader reflection. The trials span the period from the immediate aftermath of the war in Allied controlled Europe, through Israel and West Germany in the 1960s, France in the 1990s and Britain at the turn of the century. These trials raise questions about the nature of evidence, the value of witness testimony, as well as the reasons for and nature of these different legal proceedings. Ultimately they force us to range more widely and consider a host of bigger issues such as the concept of crimes against humanity, international and national jurisdiction, the instrumental use of trials by the state, media reporting, the nature of 'truth' for historians and lawyers and the relationship between trials, history and memory.


Reflective history is identified in the Subject Benchmarking Statement as an important skill. Whilst students will reflect on their work in all of their units the aim of this unit will be to focus on that reflective practice and to enable students to carry it forward in conjunction with a particular historical subject matter which will fit in with their overall portfolio of subject/period/theme-based units.

Intended Learning Outcomes

  • Students will have a heightened understanding of the particular and unique skills that historians acquire and of the way in which they apply those skills to a specific task
  • Students will be able to convey that understanding to others both in writing and through a shared group exploration
  • Students will have a deeper understanding of their own individual acquisition and application of those skills. They will be aware of their own particular combination of skills and they will have a clearer understanding of the areas where skills need to be improved.
  • Students will have a stronger awareness of how their skills might be applied more generally to other contexts
  • At the same time, and as part of the same process, they will have gained a deeper knowledge of the relationship between Holocaust trials, history and memory.

Teaching Information

  • Initial 1 hour introductory seminar, then fortnightly 2 hour seminars for 5 weeks.
  • Guided independent reading directed towards presentation of material to their group
  • Access to tutorial consultation with unit tutor in office hours

Assessment Information

1 x 24 hour seen exam

Reading and References

  • Donald Bloxham, Genocide on Trial (Oxford 2001)
  • Lawrence Douglas, The Memory of Judgement (New Haven 2001)
  • Richard Evans, Telling Lies about Hitler (London 2002)
  • Debra Kaufman et. Al. (eds.), From the Protocols of the Elders of Zion to Holocaust Denial Trials (London 2007)