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HISTORY 2II3 ModernGermany

Academic Year: Winter 2017

Term: Winter

Day/Evening: D

Instructor: Dr. Pamela Swett

Email: swettp@mcmaster.ca

Office: Chester New Hall 624

Phone: 905-525-9140 x 24142


Office Hours: Wed. 11-1 pm or by appt.

Course Objectives:

The 20th century was one of monumental change and catastrophe for Germany. The extent to which Germany affected people’s lives around the globe in the past century was so far-reaching that it has even been proposed that the last one hundred years be considered the German century. I suggest we keep this provocative statement in the back of our minds as we learn about Germany’s past from early industrialization to the machinery of genocide, from the difficulties of reuniting men and women after the First World War to the difficulties of reuniting East and West Germans after 1989. Our goal will be to understand equally the political and social origins and consequences of these events, as well as the motivations and actions of individual Germans in shaping their nation’s (and perhaps the world’s) recent history.

Textbooks, Materials & Fees:

The following books are available at the campus bookstore for purchase.

Dietrich Orlow, A History of Modern Germany

Choose one of the following two novels:

Eric Kästner, Going to the Dogs or Irmgard Keun, Gilgi

Method of Assessment:

The grade breakdown is as follows: tutorial participation (15%), short essay (25%), long paper (30%), final exam (30%).

In addition to a final exam, each student will write two analytical papers on topics provided by the instructor to be posted on Avenue to Learn. The short essay will be 1000-1200 words; the longer essay will be 1600-2000 words. The final exam will be two hours long, scheduled by the registrar’s office. 

Policy on Missed Work, Extensions, and Late Penalties:

Extensions or other accommodations will only be considered if your instructor receives the appropriate documentation.  There are no assignments worth less than 25% for which the MSAF can apply. Therefore, no MSAF notifications will be accepted.  Late papers with no accommodations will be penalized 1/3 of a letter grade each 24 hours after the deadline has passed without exception. If you need to request an extension, you must speak directly to the instructor (not your TA). One tutorial absence is accepted without penalty. Beyond that document is needed to request an excuse for a tutorial absence.

Please Note the Following Policies and Statements:

Academic Dishonesty

You are expected to exhibit honesty and use ethical behaviour in all aspects of the learning process. Academic credentials you earn are rooted in principles of honesty and academic integrity.

Academic dishonesty is to knowingly act or fail to act in a way that results or could result in unearned academic credit or advantage. This behaviour can result in serious consequences, e.g. the grade of zero on an assignment, loss of credit with a notation on the transcript (notation reads: "Grade of F assigned for academic dishonesty"), and/or suspension or expulsion from the university.

It is your responsibility to understand what constitutes academic dishonesty. For information on the various types of academic dishonesty please refer to the Academic Integrity Policy, located at www.mcmaster.ca/academicintegrity

The following illustrates only three forms of academic dishonesty:

  1. Plagiarism, e.g. the submission of work that is not one’s own or for which other credit has been obtained.
  2. Improper collaboration in group work.
  3. Copying or using unauthorized aids in tests and examinations.

Email correspondence policy

It is the policy of the Faculty of Humanities that all email communication sent from students to instructors (including TAs), and from students to staff, must originate from each student’s own McMaster University email account. This policy protects confidentiality and confirms the identity of the student.  Instructors will delete emails that do not originate from a McMaster email account.

Modification of course outlines

The University reserves the right to change dates and/or deadlines etc. for any or all courses in the case of an emergency situation or labour disruption or civil unrest/disobedience, etc. If a modification becomes necessary, reasonable notice and communication with the students will be given with an explanation and the opportunity to comment on changes. Any significant changes should be made in consultation with the Department Chair.

McMaster Student Absence Form (MSAF)

In the event of an absence for medical or other reasons, students should review and follow the Academic Regulation in the Undergraduate Calendar Requests for Relief for Missed Academic Term Work. Please note these regulations have changed beginning Fall 2015. You can find information at mcmaster.ca/msaf/. If you have any questions about the MSAF, please contact your Associate Dean's office.

Academic Accommodation of Students with Disabilities

Students who require academic accommodation must contact Student Accessibility Services (SAS) to make arrangements with a Program Coordinator. Academic accommodations must be arranged for each term of study. Student Accessibility Services can be contacted by phone 905-525-9140 ext. 28652 or e-mail sas@mcmaster.ca. For further information, consult McMaster University's Policy for Academic Accommodation of Students with Disabilities.

Academic Accommodation for Religious, Indigenous and Spiritual Observances

Students requiring academic accommodation based on religion and spiritual observances should follow the procedures set out in the Course Calendar or by their respective Faculty. In most cases, the student should contact his or her professor or academic advisor as soon as possible to arrange accommodations for classes, assignments, tests and examinations that might be affected by a religious holiday or spiritual observance.

Topics and Readings:

Week of January 9

Bismarck’s Legacy and Germany at the end of the 19th century

Week of Jan 16

The Quest for Empire and Germany’s road to war

Week of Jan 23

The First World War

Week of Jan 30

The Weimar Republic: From Crisis to Stability

Week of Feb 6

The End of the Republic

Week of Feb 13

National Socialism: Movement and Ideology


Week of Feb 20


Week of Feb27

National Socialism in Power

Week of Mar 6

World War Two and the Holocaust

Week of March 13

The Founding of West Germany and Life in the FRG before 1961

Week of March 20

The Founding of East Germany and Life in the GDR before 1961

Week of March 27

The Two Germanies in the 1970s and 1980s


Week of March April 3

The Revolution of 1989 and Life after Reunification

Final Exam to be scheduled by the Registrar


Other Course Information:

Essay topics, lecture slides, and other course notices will be posted on Avenue to Learn.