History 323     Summer 2005             Prof. J. Popkin


Essay Assignment #2 (due in class, Mon., June 20)


Write a 1000-1500 wd (4-6 pp double-spaced) essay on one of the following topics:


(1) Hitler called himself a “rational” antisemite.  Drawing on the excerpts from his speeches and writings that we read (handout and documents in Dawidowicz), and on the Katz selection in the Niewyk reader, explain what he meant by this.  Why was his antisemitism different from the Christian tradition of prejudice against Jews, and from the violent antisemitism that gave rise to mob attacks on Jews (pogroms)? 


(2) It is often said that German Jews were too slow to react to the threat of Nazism in the first five and a half years after Hitler came to power (from 30 January 1933 to ‘Kristallnacht’ on 9 November 1938).  Is this accusation justified?  What possibilities did Jews have for defending themselves from the Nazis, and what difficulties did they face in responding?  Your answer should show familiarity with the material in Bergen and especially with the documents in Dawidowicz, 33-54 and 143-170.