HIST E-1890 WORLD WAR AND SOCIETY IN THE TWENTIETH CENTURY: WORLD WAR II

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Prof. Charles Maier Harvard University Extension School 617-495-4303 x 273 Fall Term 2008 -2009 csmaier@fas.harvard.edu (Syllabus 08/22/08)

HIST E-1890

WORLD WAR AND SOCIETY IN THE TWENTIETH CENTURY: WORLD WAR II

By any measure except duration and the arming of children, World War II remains the most total conflict of world history. It raged over three continents, wrought unparalleled destruction and those fighting in it -- on both sides -- targeted civilians to an unprecedented degree. It has been the only war to date in which atomic weapons were used. The deaths inflicted dwarf wartime casualties before or after. The violence of the War made it possible to carry out its largest genocidal project: the Nazi effort to exterminate the Jews of Europe. On the “home front,” World War II involved massive government direction of economies and societies even among countries that prided themselves on their liberal politics and free markets. States coordinated manpower to an extent not seen before or after. The war irreversibly undermined the European colonial empires and brought new nations into being. For the victors, the war was a righteous struggle and transformed aspirations for society. It has served as the base point of historical memory for two generations, and these collective memories still have a passionate effect on politics. But over the last half century, these memories have evolved and they, too, now have their own history.

This course seeks to understand this huge event as a whole. It explores the origins of the war and its aftermath in the context of international relations. It presents the major strategic choices confronting the aggressor states as well as those attacked. It examines the war’s impact on societies and families, on soldiers, and on victims; and it tries to share the experiences and memories of those whom the war transformed. More urgently than most historical experiences, the war imposed painful choices as to resistance, acquiescence, or the use of violence. Section discussions examine how these choices presented themselves at the time, and the ways in which moral and historical judgment have evolved in retrospect.

For many students, awareness of World War II comes from the movies and the televised series, “The World at War.” The war has lent itself repeatedly to cinema, mediocre and brilliant – but its history requires the student and the historian to reach beyond even the best movies. Where films focus on transformative personal experiences, understanding the Second World War as history also requires reconstructing how societies across the globe shaped each other’s collective experience. World War II demonstrates the need for systemic world history.

Course readings include a diversity of material: military and diplomatic history, current reports and correspondence, memoirs and literature, some of which are included in the Sourcebook, available after about mid-September from the Harvard Coop (for on-line

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order: www.thecoop.com. (Please note: the sourcebook binding and the Coop will refer to this volume as reading for Historical Studies B-54, the designation for Harvard College students. The Coop will also carry the other readings under that course

designation.) Selections in the Sourcebook are keyed to the weekly discussion topics. Films made during or after the war will also be screened in Cambridge, and some are available in VCR/DVD format. They are not required for extension students, but you will have a chance to draw on them for examination purposes. Two books serve as texts along with the

sourcebook: R.A.C. Parker, The Second World War: A Short History (Oxford PB); and Richard Overy, Why the Allies Won (Norton PB). (The earlier edition of Parker’s The Second World War was entitled Struggle for Survival and can be read instead.) No book is required for purchase, but it is highly recommended that you buy these two. Along with other titles, listed at the end, they can also be ordered from the Coop or perhaps most easily from Amazon.com. Extension students in remote locations who find access to particular books difficult should contact the instructor or course assistant to work out substitute reading.

Course requirements include the following: a mid-term hour exam (15% of the course grade), and a final examination (45%). A paper of approximately 12-15 pages will be due shortly before the final examination (30%). Students will have a wide choice of topics. Suggested essay subjects, with recommended reading, will be distributed later in the semester. The remaining 10% is based on the section procedures described below and in more detail at the beginning of the semester.

Readings are assigned on a weekly basis and keyed to the topics of the week’s lectures and sections. For those able to take part in a Cambridge section discussion, participation normally counts for 10% of the grade. For those enrolled in the course at a remote site there will be the opportunity to participate in on-line discussion. In addition to these weekly exchanges, a few discussion sessions with Professor Maier will be scheduled later in the term. To enhance section “discussion,” study questions, focusing on the week’s reading, will be distributed on-line in advance. For 6 of the 12 sections, students are

expected to complete one-to-two page memos (no longer!) that address one of the questions distributed. They will receive notations of satisfactory, excellent, or insufficient. You may choose which of the six sections for which to write memos, but at least three memos must be completed before the hour exam.

SCHEDULE OF LECTURES, SECTIONS, AND READING

Week I: Background

Sept. 16: Course Introduction: Four Wars in One Sept. 18: The Shadow of World War I and Versailles READING:

Christopher Bayly and Tim Harper: Forgotten Armies: The Fall of British Asia, 1941-1945, pp. 1-69.

Adam Tooze, The Wages of Destruction: The Making and Breaking of the Nazi Economy (New York: Viking, 2006), pp. 1-33, 203-255, 304-325.

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Week II: Picking up where the Last War left off

Sept. 23: Global Crises in the 1930s

Sept. 25: Hitler’s Agenda; Allied Appeasement 1936-39

READING &SECTION(1): WAS THE SECOND WORLD WAR ‘INVEVITABLE’?THE ISSUES OF RESPONSIBILITY AND APPEASEMENT

Sourcebook:

(1) Selected speeches and documents on the Munich Crisis.

R.A.C. Parker, The Second World War: A Short History, chaps. 1-2. (The original edition was titled Struggle for Survival; it can be read instead.)

Week III: Facing Disaster

Sept. 30: Churchill’s Choices

Oct. 2: The Battle for France (Prof. Higonnet).

READING&SECTION(2):WHY DID FRANCE FALL? HOW DID BRITAIN SURVIVE? Sourcebook:

(2) “Churchill-Roosevelt Correspondence”; (3) Marc Bloch, “Strange Defeat..

Parker, chap. 3.

Richard C. Overy, Why the Allies Won, chaps. 1-2.

Ernest May, Strange Victory: Hitler’s Conquest of France (New York: Hill & Wang, 2000), pp. 232-68, 337-70, 400-413, 447-64..

FILM: Sept. 30 & Oct. 1: The Boat.

Week IV: Origins of the Pacific War

Oct. 7: Japanese Ambitions, Strategy, and Conquests, 1937-42 Oct. 9: Roosevelt's Strategy and Objectives, 1940-42

READING&SECTION(3):DID THE U.S.HAVE TO GO TO WAR?

Akira Iriye, Pearl Harbor and the Coming of the Pacific War (Coop) Parker, chaps. 5-6, 8.

Week V: The World at War

Oct. 14: Russia’s War

Oct. 16: The Mediterranean, 1940-44

READING&SECTION(4): HOW DID THE SOVIET UNION SURVIVE?

Catherine Merridale, Ivan’s War: Life and Death in the Red Army, 1939-1945, pp. 83-186, 218-225, 285-339.

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Parker, chaps. 4 and 7.

Tooze, The Wages of Destruction, pp. 419-512. Overy, Why the Allies Won, chap. 3.

FILM (Oct. 14-15): The Cranes are Flying or Ballad of a Soldier.

Week VI: Resources

Oct. 21: The Search for the Decisive Weapon; the Air War

Oct. 23: "Sinews of War": Labor, Production, Finance (Statistics in Class) READING &SECTION(5): INCINERATING CITIES: EFFECTIVE? MORAL?

Sourcebook:

(4) “U.S. Strategic Bombing Survey, “Summary of Results”; (5) Michael Walzer, “Just and Unjust War.”

Parker, chaps. 9-11.

Overy, Why the Allies Won, chap. 4. FILM (Oct. 21-22): Twelve O’Clock High.

Week VII: The Social Impact of War

Oct. 28: “Total War”: Civilian Experiences Oct. 30: “Family Values: Slides

READING &SECTION(6):WAS THE WAR GOOD FOR WOMEN AND CHILDREN? Sourcebook:

(6) Richard Titmuss, “Problems of Social Policy”;

(7) William Beveridge, Social Insurance and Allied Services"; (8) Sarah Fishman, "Waiting for the Captive Sons of France"; (9) Robert Moeller, “Protecting Motherhood.”

Overy, Why the Allies Won, chaps. 6-7.

Week VIII: The Test at Home

Nov. 4: Hourly Examination in Class Nov. 6: America's Home Front

READING&SECTION(7):WHY WE FOUGHT. AMERICA'S WAR Sourcebook:

(10) Studs Terkel, “The Good War.”

David M. Kennedy, The American People in World War II, chaps 2, 5, 8 (Coop). FILM (Nov.5-6): “Why We Fight,” and “Mrs. Minniver.”

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Week IX: Living with the Enemy

Nov. 11: Veterans Day Holiday Nov. 13: Collaborationist Regimes

READING&SECTION(8):CHOOSING SIDES.COLLABORATION AND RESISTANCE Sourcebook:

(11) John Sweets, “Choices in Vichy France”;

(12) Mark Mazower, “Inside Hitler’s Greece: The Experience of Occupation”;

(13) M.C. Ricklefs, “A History of Modern Indonesia”;.

Julian Jackson, France: The Dark Years 1940-1944 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2001), pp. 139-235, 354-81, 475-505.

FILM (Nov. 14-15): "The Sorrow and the Pity."

Week X: The Brightest and the Bleakest Chapters

Nov. 18: Ambiguities of Resistance Nov. 20: The Holocaust

READING&SECTION(9): ADIFFERENT WAR? Parker, chap. 12.

Primo Levi, Survival in Auschwitz, pp. 5-118. (Coop)

Gordon J. Horwitz, Ghettostadt: Lódz and the Making of a Nazi City (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2008), pp.1-29, 113-42, 192-247, 287-322.

FILM (Nov. 18-1): "Shoah" (parts 1 and 2).

Week XI: Defeating Germany

Nov. 25: Strategies for Reconquest 1943-45 Nov. 27: Thanksgiving Recess

READING (No Section this week): Parker, chaps. 12-13

Overy, Why the Allies Won, chaps. 5, 8,

Tooze, The Wages of Destruction, pp. 590-648.

Week XII: Japan’s Defeat --but whose Victory?

Dec. 2: The Atomic Bomb and the End of the Japanese War Dec. 4: Aftershocks: The End of Empires in Southeast Asia:

READING&SECTION(10):SHOULD THE UNITED STATES HAVE USED THE ATOMIC BOMB?

SOURCEBOOK:

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(15) Field Marshall Viscount Slim, “Defeat into Victory.” John Dower, War Without Mercy, pp. 3-73, 118-46, 293-317. (Coop)

Parker, chap. 14.

Week XIII: What Sort of Peace?

Dec. 9: Yalta, Potsdam, San Francisco: Postwar Settlements and Tensions

Dec. 11: Trying War Crimes and Collaboration READING&SECTION(11):WAS THE COLD WAR AVOIDABLE?WAS DECOLONIZATION

UNAVOIDABLE?

Sourcebook:

(16) Vojtech Mastny, “Russia's Road to the Cold War”;

(17) Averell Harriman and Elie Abel, “Special Envoy to Churchill and Stalin.”

(18) Subhas Chandra Bose, “Secret Memorandum to the German Government.”

(19) Sugata Bose and Ayisha Jalal, “Modern South Asia: Nationalism and Colonialism in World War II and its Aftermath”.

Parker, chaps. 15-16.

Overy, Why the Allies Won, chap. 9.

Bayly and Harper, Forgotten Armies, pp. 419-65. FILM (Dec. 12-13) "The Best Years of Our Lives".

Week XIV: “The Best Years of Our Lives”?

Dec. 16: Remembering and Rewriting. Narratives and counter-narratives. READING, but no sections (Christmas Vacation):

Sourcebook:

(20) Henry Rousso, “The Vichy Syndrome.”

Ian Buruma, The Wages of Guilt, at least parts two and three. Overy, Why the Allies Won, chap. 10.

Books on Order at the Coop and Harvard Bookstore:

Christopher Bayly and Tim Harper, Forgotten Armies: The Fall of British Asia

(Harvard University Press PB)

Ian Buruma, The Wages of Guilt (Meridian PB) – Out of print, but as many copies as can be found will be stocked

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Gordon J. Horwitz, Ghettostadt: Lódz and the Making of a Nazi City (Harvard University Press)

Akira Iriye, Pearl Harbor and the Coming of the Pacific War (Bedford PB) Primo Levi, Survival in Auschwitz (Meridian PB)

Catherine Merridale, Ivan’s War: Life and Death in the Red Army (Metropolitan) Richard Overy, Why the Allies Won (Norton PB)

R.A.C. Parker, The Second World War: A Short History (Oxford PB)

Adam Tooze, The Wages of Destruction: The Making and Destruction of the Nazi Economy (Viking PB).

A word on war movies: Some further recommended films for vacation and reading period: “Lifeboat” (wartime Hitchcock on brutalization), “Casablanca” (love and opportunism yield to public commitment), “Battleground” (helped define the American genre in the 50’s), “The Bridge” (unsparing German/Yugoslav production of adolescent draftees in Germany), “Stalingrad” (German manhood, in a brutal world allegedly without ideology), “The Young Lions,” (Brando’s dazed German innocent), “Das Boot” (“The Boat”: harrowing experiences of German U-boat crew filmed in reconstructed submarine), “The Caine Mutiny” (American ambiguities of authority and obedience), vs. “Mr Roberts,” (the ship as microsociety), “The Cruel Sea” (authentic tight-upper-lip British naval drama), “The Bridge on the River Kwai” (Alec Guinness as task-fixated commander of British POWs in Japanese-held Burma), “Twelve O’Clock High” (Gregory Peck experiences fear in a B-17), “The Cranes are Flying” (a product of the post-Stalin Russian “thaw”), “The Life and Times of Rosie the Riveter” (a documentary on American women workers), “The Longest Day” (famous stars play war) as contrasted with “Saving Private Ryan” (Spielberg’s retrieval of meaning), “Catch 22” (the American epic of absurdity), “Open City” (Roberto Rossellini’s neo-realist treatment of the crumbling German occupation of Rome), “Soldiers of Orange” (Dutch derring-do), “The Assault,” (ambiguities of the occupied Netherlands), “Lacombe Lucien” (collaboration as passivity), “Hamsun,” (Max von Sydow as the pro-German Nobelist author in occupied Norway), “The Night of the Shooting Stars,” (The Italian Resistance as confused civil war). Episodes of “Victory at Sea,” from the 1950s with its musical score by Richard Rogers are also worth watching, Episodes of the British series, “The World at War,” done about twenty-five years later and focused less on U.S. efforts, are available at the Center for European Studies library.

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