Anti-Semitism in Modern European History


Mgr. Zbyněk Vydra, Ph.D.


Aims / Competences / Time requirements / Credits / Semester / Requirements / Content / Literature / Useful websites


The course was created with the support of a grant FRVŠ 2013 B5/b "The support of the english-language teaching in the Historical Sciences' study program". 

Předmět byl vytvořen s podporou grantu FRVŠ 2013 B5/b "Podpora anglo-jazyčné výuky v studijním programu Historické vědy".



In its first part, course is focused on the evolution of the anti-semitic ideology in Europe in 19th century (since French revolution until the First World War). The objective is to show and discuss the changes in the ideology and mainly the displays of anti-semitism in the everyday life. The particularities of these displays are presented through the comparison o different European countries (Germany, Austria-Hungary, Russia, France). The second part of the course is focuse on the Holocaust – genocide of Jews, its origin, implementation and aftermath. The main objective is to analyze the changes in nazi policy towards Jews and the ways how he genocide was prepared and carried out. The different approaches of European countries to the „Jewish question“ during the Second World War are the other subject for analysing. Special attention is payed to the problems of Jewish resistence, punishing the perpetrators of genocide after the war and the attitude of non-Jewish population to the genocide.


Students gain the basic overview of the problematic, are able to explain the nature of anti-semitism and reason for its different displays in different European societies. Further they are able to explain causes of holocaust, distinguis the trends and differences in anti-Jewish policy of Germany and its allies, and put the holocaust in the context of 20th century history.

Time requirements:

2 hours (lecture)

ECTS credits





written exam


1) Tradition of Anti-Semitism in Middle-Age and Early Modern Europe
2) The Jewish Enlightenment, French Revolution and Jewish Emancipation
3) The Birth of Modern Anti-Semitism: the case of Germany
4) Anti-Jewish Violence in 19th century Europe: Russia in the comparative perspective
5) Anti-Semitism and Modern Politics: France and Austria-Hungary
6) Jewish Reactions on Anti-Semitism: Assimilation, Emigration, Zionism
7) Nazism and Anti-Semitism in 1920-1930’s
8) The Path to Genocide: Nazi Germany and Europe, 1939-1941
9) The War against the Jews: Nazi Germany and Europe, 1941-1945
10) In the shadow of death: Jews between the Ghettos and Death Camps
11) „We only followed the orders“: Perpetrators and their histories
12) „We did not know anything about it“: Bystanders and their histories
13) Epilogue: Anti-Semitism in Europe after the Holocaust


Henry Abramson, A Prayer for the Government: Ukrainians and Jews in Revolutionary Times, 1917-1920, Harvard 1999.

Eugene M. Avrutin – Harriet Murav, Jews in the East European Borderlands: Essays in Honor of John Doyle Klier, Academic Studies Press 2012.

Israel Bartal, The Jews of Eastern Europe, 1772-1881, University of Pennsylvania Press 2006.

Yitzhak Bauer, Jews for Sale?: Nazi-Jewish Negotiations, 1933-1945, New Haven 1996.

Doris L. Bergen, War and Genocide: A Concise History of the Holocaust, Rowman & Littlefield Publishers 2009.

Daniel Blatman, The Death Marches: The Final Phase of Nazi Genocide, Harvard 2010.

Donald Bloxham, Genocide on Trial: War Crimes Trials and the Formation of Holocaust History and Memory, Oxford 2003.

Donald Bloxham, The Final Solution: A Genocide, Oxford 2009.

Donald Bloxham – A. Dirk Moses, The Oxford Handbook of Genocide Studies, Oxford 2010.

Christopher R. Browning, Ordinary Men, Reserve Police Battalion 101 and the Final Solution in Poland, New York 1993.

Christoph R. Browning, The Origins of the Final Solution: The Evolution of Nazi Jewish Policy, September 1939-March 1942, Jerusalem 2007.

Oleg Budnitskii, Russian Jews Between the Reds and the Whites, 1917-1920, University of Pennsylvania Press 2011.

Amos Elon, A Pity of It All, New York 2003.

Todd M. Endelman (ed.), Comparing Jewish Societies, Ann Arbor 1997.

Todd M. Endelman, The Jews of Britain, 1656 to 2000, Berkeley 2002.

Henry Friedlander, The Origins of Nazi Genocide: From Euthanasia to the Final Solution, De Kalb 1997.

Saul Friedländer, Nazi Germany and the Jews. Years of Persecution, 1933-1939, New York 1998.

Saul Friedländer, Nazi Germany and the Jews. The Years of Extermination, 1939-1945, New York 2007.

Lloyd P. Gartner, History of the Jews in Modern Times, Oxford 2001.

Daniel J. Goldhagen, A Moral Reckoning: The Role of the Church in the Holocaust and Its Unfulfilled Duty of Repair, Vintage Books 2003.

Daniel J. Goldhagen, Hitler's Willing Executioners: Ordinary Germans and the Holocaust, Vintage Books 1997.

Jan. T. Gross, Neighbors: The Destruction of the Jewish Community in Jedwabne, Poland, Princeton 2001.

Yisrael Gutman, Anatomy of the Auschwitz Death Camp, Bloomington 1998.

Peter Hayes – John K. Roth, The Oxford Handbook of Holocaust Studies, Oxford 2011.

Steve Hochstadt, Sources of the Holocaust, Basingstoke 2004.

Paula Hyman, The Jews of Modern France, Berkeley 1998.

Marion A. Kaplan, Between Dignity and Despair: Jewish Life in Nazi Germany, New York 1998.

David Kertzer, The Popes Against the Jews: The Vatican's Role in the Rise of Modern Anti-Semitism, New York 2002.

John Doyle Klier, Russian, Jews, and Pogroms of 1881-1882, Cambridge 2011.

Walter Laqueur, The Changing Face of Anti-Semitism: From Ancient Times to the Present Day, Oxford 2006.

Peter Longerich, Holocaust: The Nazi Persecution and Murder of the Jews, Oxford 2002.

Peter Longerich, Heinrich Himmler: A Life, Oxford 2012.

Robert Melson, Revolution and Genocide: On the Origins of the Armenian Genocide and the Holocaust, Chicago 1996.

Paul Mendes-Florh – Jehuda Reinharz (edd.), The Jew in the Modern World: A Documentary History, Oxford 2010.

Jewish Women in America: An Historical Encyclopedia (2 Volume Set), Routledge 1997.

Leon Poliakov, The History of Antisemitism, 4 vols., Pittsburgh 2003.

The Routledge Atlas of Jewish History, 2010.

The Routledge Atlas of the Holocaust, 2009.

Yuri Slezkine, The Jewish Century, Princeton 2004.

Dan Stone (ed.), The Historiography of Genocide, Palgrave Macmillan 2010.

Dan Stone (ed.), The Historiography of the Holocaust, Palgrave Macmillan 2006.


Useful websites 

United States Memorial Holocaust Museum, Washington

The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum (USHMM) is the United States' official memorial to the Holocaust. The USHMM was opened in 1993 and provides for the documentation, study, and interpretation of Holocaust history. The USHMM’s collections contain more than 12,750 artifacts, 49 million pages of archival documents, 80,000 historical photographs, 200,000 registered survivors, 1,000 hours of archival footage, 84,000 library items, and 9,000 oral history testimonies. It also has teacher fellows in every state in the United States and has welcomed almost 400 university fellows from 26 countries since 1994. Researchers at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum have documented 42,500 ghettos and concentration camps erected by the Nazis throughout German-controlled areas of Europe from 1933 to 1945.

Yad Vashem. The International Institute for Holocaust Research, Jerusalem

Research and publications on the Shoah have always been high priorities of Yad Vashem since its official founding by the Knesset (the Israeli Parliament) in 1953. Due to the increase of international interest in the Shoah, the desire to encourage and support worldwide scholarly research on the Shoah and related topics, Yad Vashem established the International Institute for Holocaust Research in 1993. The Institute is active in the development and coordination of International research; the planning and undertaking of scholarly projects; the organization of symposia, conferences, and seminars; the fostering of cooperative projects among research institutions; financial and academic support for scholars and students of the Shoah; offering MA, PhD and postdoctoral fellowships; and publishing academic research, documentation, conference anthologies, diaries, memoirs, and albums about the Shoah.

The Wiener Library for the Study of Holocaust and Genocide, London

The Wiener Library has been collecting material related to the Holocaust, its causes and legacies since 1933. Its holdings contain approximately 65,000 books and pamphlets, 2,000 document collections, over 17,000 photographs, and over 3,000 titles of periodicals, as well as audio-visual testimonies, press cuttings, posters and some objects.

YIVO Institute for Jewish Research (New York)

The Institute was founded in Vilna, Poland (today Vilnius in Lithuania) in 1925 an relocated to New York City in 1940. Its mission is to preserve, study and teach the cultural history of Jewish life throughout Eastern Europe, Germany and Russia. Its educational and public outreach programs concentrate on all aspects of this 1000-year history and its continuing influence in America. YIVO’s archival collections and library constitute the single greatest resource for such study in the world, including approximately 24 million letters, manuscripts, photographs, films, sound recordings, art works, and artifacts; as well as the largest collection of Yiddish-language materials in the world.

Leo Baeck Institute (New York)

The Leo Baeck Institute is a research library and archive that contains the most significant collection of source material relating to the history of German-speaking Jewry, from its origins to its tragic destruction by the Nazis and continuing to the present day. Founded in 1955, the LBI was named for the rabbi who was the last leader of the Jewish community in Germany under the Nazis. Rabbi Leo Baeck survived the concentration camp of Theresienstadt to become the first president of the Institute. The Institute was set up with offices in New York, London (see and Jerusalem (, with New York the site of the LBI library and archives. Since the opening of the Jewish Museum Berlin, LBI NY also maintains a branch of its archives there (see

Simon Dubnow Insitute for Jewish History and Culture at Leipzig University

The Simon Dubnow Institute for Jewish History and Culture at Leipzig University, named after the Russian-Jewish historian Simon Dubnow (1860-1941), was established in 1995 on the basis of a resolution passed by the state parliament of Saxony. It is associated with Leipzig University through a formal agreement for cooperation.
The Institute's work centers on research on the life-worlds (Lebenswelten) of the Jews, primarily in Central, East Central, Eastern and Southeastern Europe, investigating in particular the mutual relations between the Jews in Eastern and Western Europe and in the context of their non-Jewish environment. The temporal frame is from the medieval period down to the present. Contrasted with the situation in Western Europe, the areas focused on are largely zones of transition between Roman Catholicism, Eastern Orthodoxy and Islam. Currently, the main focus of research is on the period from the late 18th century to the beginning of the Second World War. Jewish history is viewed from a transnational, pluralistic perspective, as a kind of seismograph for shifts and tremors in the broader terrain of historical developments.
In terms of the historical sciences, work at the Institute revolves around three nodes of inquiry: (a) political and diplomatic history, based on new methodological approaches, (b) the history of migration and science, because migratory dynamics and innovation are closely intertwined, and (c) the classic canon of intellectual history and the history of ideas.
Special stress is placed on cooperative research at national and international levels. The Institute maintains close links with numerous scholarly centers in a number of countries, including Israel, the United States, Great Britain, Poland, France, Austria and Germany. Along with a central emphasis on research, the Institute also hosts guest scholars from Germany and abroad, guides doctoral students, arranges international conferences and smaller scholarly discussions, provides an array of courses for students at Leipzig University, and connects the academic research to a broader public.