29704 - History of the Shoah and Genocide (1) (LM)

Academic Year 2023/2024

  • Teaching Mode: Traditional lectures
  • Campus: Bologna
  • Corso: Second cycle degree programme (LM) in History and Oriental Studies (cod. 8845)

Learning outcomes

The course aims to provide the student with a critical knowledge of the events that led to the destruction of European judaism and problems concerning the international historiography of the Shoah and the history of genocides in XX century. By its conclusion, the student will be able to discuss the subjects both in writing and orally employing textual, iconographic and material sources, displaying the appropriate methodologies and bibliographical materials.

Course contents


Genocides: history and historiography

An introduction to the chief aspects of the history of the Shoah and genocides, referring also to the relevant texts in historiography:

• birth of historiography;

• creation of an "archive" of the Shoah;

• Raphael Lemkin and the crime of genocide;

• evolution and criticism of the concept of "uniqueness";

• apology;

• the "integrated history" in genocide studies;

• the archeology of conflict;

• the topography of the genocide;

• testimony and representation;

• memorials and museums.




In the second part we will consider the "physical" removal, even before the political and institutional one, of the signs of a genocide; the failure to include the past of destroyed communities in the material reconstruction of territories; the material cancellation of ruined places as a precondition for post-war reconstruction.

The removal of the material traces of violence concerns not only the destructive action of the war, but also the reconstructive actions of the post-war period. Starting from the case of the Shoah, we will question the meaning of giving shape to a space that no longer communicates the history of a genocide.

Main topics:

• mental ruins in post-war Europe: presence in the absence; la dissoluzione dei sentimenti di appartenenza.

• material ruins in post-war Europe: open sky burials, desecrated cemeteries, devastated ghettos and deserted shtetlech;

• conservation or reconstruction?

• performative memory.

• cultural genocide.



Exam bibliography:

  1. David Engel, L’olocausto, Bologna, il Mulino, 2005;
  2. Antonella Salomoni, Le ceneri di Babij Jar. L’eccidio degli ebrei di Kiev, Bologna, Il Mulino, 2019;
  3. Dan Stone, La liberazione dei campi. La fine della Shoah e le sue eredità, Torino, Einaudi, 2017.
  4. Antonella Salomoni, Quando forse non c’era ancora il nome, «Frontiere della psicoanalisi», 2020, n. 1, pp. 205-215.
  5. Anselm Kiefer, L'arte sopravviverà alle sue rovine, Milano, Feltrinelli, 2018.


one of the following:

  • Taner Akcam, Nazionalismo turco e genocidio armeno. Dall'Impero ottomano alla Repubblica, Milano, Guerini e Associati, 2006;
  • Götz Aly, Zavorre. Storia dell'Aktion T4: l'eutanasia nella Germania nazista, 1939-1945, Torino, Einaudi, 2017;
  • Bernard Bruneteau, Il secolo dei genocidi, Bologna, il Mulino, 2005;
  • Alon Confino, Un mondo senza ebrei. L'immaginario nazista dalla persecuzione al genocidio, Milano, Mondadori 2017;
  • David Fishman, Quei piccoli grandi eroi che salvarono i libri, Newton Compton, 2017;
  • Michela Fusaschi, Hutu–Tutsi. Alle radici del genocidio ruandese, Torino, Bollati Boringhieri, 2000;
  • R. Gellately, B. Kiernan (a cura di), Il secolo del genocidio, Milano, Longanesi, 2006;
  • Jan T. Gross, Un raccolto d'oro. Il saccheggio dei beni ebraici, Torino, Einaudi, 2016;
  • Samuel Kassow, Chi scriverà la nostra storia? L'archivio ritrovato del ghetto di Varsavia, Milano, Mondadori, 2009;
  • Guenter Lewy, La persecuzione nazista degli zingari, Torino, Einaudi, 2002;
  • Norman Naimark, La politica dell'odio. la pulizia etnica nell'Europa contemporanea, Roma, Laterza, 2002;
  • Ilaria Pavan, Le conseguenze economiche delle leggi razziali, Bologna, Il Mulino, 2022;
  • Pier Paolo Portinaro, L’imperativo di uccidere. Genocidio e democidio nella storia, Roma-Bari, Laterza, 2017;
  • Jacques Sémelin, Purificare e distruggere. Usi politici dei massacri e dei genocidi, Torino, Einaudi, 2007;
  • Timothy Snyder, Terra nera. L’Olocausto fra storia e presente, Rizzoli, Milano 2015.

All the books above are found in the library of the Department of History and Cultures, piazza S. Giovanni in Monte 2

Foreign students may contact the lecturer for an alternative reading list in English.




Michael Berenbaum, Abraham J. Peck (eds.), The Holocaust and History: The Known, the Unknown, the Disputed, and the Re-examined, Indiana University Press, Bloomington, Ind., 1998;

Dan Michman, Holocaust Historiography – A Jewish Perspective. Conceptualizations, Terminology, Approaches and Fundamental Issues, London–Portland (Or.), Vallentine Mitchell, 2003 (Pour une historiographie de la shoah. Conceptualisation, terminologie, définitions et problèmes fondamentaux, Paris, In Press Éditions, 2001);

Dan Stone (ed.), The Historiography of the Holocaust, Basingstoke-New York, Palgrave, 2004;

David Bankier, Dan Michman (eds.), Holocaust Historiography in Context: Emergence, Challenges, Polemics and Achievements, Jerusalem, Yad Vashem, 2008;

David Bankier, Dan Michman (eds.), Holocaust and Justice. Representation and Historiography of the Holocaust in Post-War Trials, Jerusalem, Yad Vashem, 2010.



Omer Bartov, Erased. Vanishing Traces of Jewish Galicia in Present-Day Ukraine, Princeton-Oxford, Princeton University Press, 2007;

Justyna Beinek, Piotr Kosicki (eds.), Re-mapping Polish-German Historical Memory: Physical, Political, and Literary Spaces since World War II, Bloomington, IN: Slavica Publishers, 2011;

Robert Bevan, The Destruction of Memory: Architecture at War, London, Raektion Books, 2006;

Stacy Boldrick, Richard Clay (eds.), Iconoclasm. Contested Objects, Contested Terms, Burlington, VT, Ashgate, 2007;

Béatrice Fleury, Jacques Walter (eds.), Qualifier des lieux de détention et de massacre, voll. 1-4, Nancy, Presses Universitaires de Nancy, 2008-2011 (“Questions de communication”)

Andreas Huyssen, Memory Art in the Contemporary World. Confronting Violence in the Global South, London Lund Humphries, 2022

Michael Meng, Shattered Spaces: Encountering Jewish Ruins in Postwar Germany and Poland, Cambridge, Harvard University Press, 2011;

Gavriel D. Rosenfeld, Building After Auschwitz. Jewish Architecture and the Memory of the Holocaust, New Haven-London, Yale University Press, 2011;

Caroline Sturdy Colls, Holocaust Archaeologies: Approaches and Future Directions, Springer, 2015.


Teaching methods

Lecture; critical analysis of texts.

Regular attendance and participation are recommended.

Assessment methods

Students who attend at least 75% of the lessons are considered to be attending.

The exam will take the form of an oral discussion. The student will be assessed according to the knowledge he has acquired, his ability to provide a clear summary of the topics covered and his critical handling of the material.

The assessment will concentrate particularly on the skill displayed by the student in handling the sources and material in the exam bibliography and his ability to find and use information and examples to illustrate and correlate the various themes and problems addressed in the course.

The assessment will thus examine the student's:

- factual knowledge of the subject;
- ability to summarise and analyse themes and concepts;
- familiarity with the terminology associated with the subject and his ability to use it effectively.

Top marks will be awarded to a student displaying an overall understanding of the topics discussed during the lectures, combined with a critical approach to the material and a confident and effective use of the appropriate terminology.
Average marks will be awarded to a student who has memorized the main points of the material and is able to summarise them satisfactorily and provide an effective critical commentary, while failing to display a complete command of the appropriate terminology.
A student will be deemed to have failed the exam if he displays significant errors in his understanding and failure to grasp the overall outlines of the subject, together with a poor command of the appropriate terminology.

Teaching tools

Some materials will be available to students in pdf format.

Office hours

See the website of Antonella Salomoni


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