Course assessment

The course assessment consists of two parts:

  • A presentation in class or academic paper (30%) (see: Option a) and b))
  • The final oral exam (70%)

Option a) Presentations are done in groups of 2; each group has to defend a thesis in opposition to a counter-thesis, done by another group; one presentation lasts for 10 min. (5 min. for each member of the group); presentations start on 5 October and are included in each lecture until the end of the course. The number and definitive time-distribution of the presentations in the calendar will be established once it is clear how many have chosen this option and for which topics.

Option b) Academic Paper; groups of 4 students choose a topic out of those offered and write a 5.000 words essay according to academic standard, according to the Chicago Style Referencing system; deadline is 30 November 2016. Essays have to be submitted to the course instructor ( and the course assistant ( in PDF.

The Final Oral Exam is an interrogation of approximately 20-30 minutes, consisting in three questions, one of which the student can choose out of a list of topics; the second is chosen by lottery, the third chosen by the instructor.

The Exam Dates are: 19 December 2016; 30 January 2017; 11 February 2017

List of 50 Exam Topics:

The exam questions will be taken out of the below list; for preparation are relevant 1) the contents of all lectures including student’s presentations, 2) the related background readings (Hobsbawm, Fischer, Judt, Arendt; see bibliography); students are free to deepen their knowledge in further literature, as given by the instructor (see dropbox) or any reliable and scientific source of information they may find. Each of the 50 topics is divided in two diverging interpretative approaches that have to be explained at the exam.

1. Paris Commune 1871:

a. A first model for an ideal socialist society

b. An outburst of violent barbarism that had to be suppressed by progressive democracy

2. Bismarck:

a. Bismarck’s “Iron and Steel” Policy prepared the grounds for National Socialism

b. Bismarck assured a Policy of Reason; his demise opened the door to national chauvinism and, in the end, National Socialism

3. Democratization around the Turn of Centuries:

a. The often belated and incomplete extension of suffrage generated the opposition of “the masses” to European democracies

b. Social legislation introduced by European governments created ideal conditions for the in-clusion of “the masses” into the state; but they rejected the offer, instigated by ruthless propaganda

4. “Fin De Siècle”:

a. A period marked by social and technological progress

b. A period of social decadence and glooming expectation of future catastrophes

5. Dreyfus Affair 1894-99:

a. The Affair unveiled a deep-rooted anti-semitism in France, endangering the Republic

b. The Affair showed that National/republican Interest stood above the fate of an individual

6. Maurras and the “Action Francaise”:

a. AF was a forerunner of future fascist movements in Europe

b. Maurras’ Integral Nationalism differed from later Fascism

7. Georges Sorel and Mussolini:

a. Sorel decisively shaped Mussolini’s Theory of Fascism

b. Sorel had only marginal influence on Mussolini’s political genesis

8. World War I:

a. The outbreak of War was an avoidable accident of history

b. The outbreak of war was an inevitable consequence of long-term causes

9. Socialist’s Decision in 1914 to join the War:

a. Reconciliation of Socialism with the respective nation-states

b. Moment of rupture between revolutionary and democratic socialism

10. Spirit of the Trenches:

a. WWI soldiers were traumatized by their experience and just wanted peace at all cost

b. WWI soldiers developed an “ethic of perpetual struggle”, carried on into their postwar life

11. Bolshevik Revolution 1917:

a. The October Revolution was an inevitable consequence of the February Revolution

b. The February Revolution only failed due to its own mistakes, not due to Bolshevist pressure

12. Lenin:

a. Lenin’s Rule was Totalitarian

b. Lenin’s Rule was can not be called Totalitarian

13. Wilson’s 14 Points 1918:

a. A direct democratic response on Lenin’s “Decree on Peace” for a peaceful new world order

b. A utopian set of inconclusive ideas that inaugurated the US-mission of democracy imposi-tion in the world

14. Versailles Treaty 1919:

a. The best possible Peace Treaty given the complicated circumstances of the moment

b. A bad Peace Treaty driven by nationalist interests and exaggerated revenge feelings

15. “Stab-in-the-back” Legend:

a. Invented in order to defend the Pride of an offended Nation

b. Invented as a propaganda tool to overthrow the Republic of the “November Criminals”

16. Weimar Republic:

a. Weimar Democracy had a fair chance to stabilize and survive the Nazi challenge

b. Weimar Democracy was destined to fail for its original shortcomings

17. Soviet Defeat at Warsaw against Poland, 1920:

a. Poland saved Western Europe from International Bolshevik Revolution

b. Prove that Soviets had opted for “Revolution in one Country”

18. Hitler’s 1923 “Beerhall Putsch”:

a. Failure shows stabilization of Weimar Democracy

b. Failed only because of bad organization

19. Mussolini:

a. Rise was a natural consequence of the weakness and inefficiency of Liberal forces

b. Liberal forces had all possibilities to stop his Rise to power, but were unwilling to do so

20. Matteotti Murder 1924:

a. Triggering cause for fascist government to transform from democracy into dictatorship

b. Ultimate evidence for the original dictatorial and violent character of the fascist regime

21. Monarchy and Church in Fascist Italy:

a. Both institutions survived only due to their submission to the Fascist regime

b. Both institutions conditioned the Fascist regime and avoided a fully totalitarian State

22. Stalin:

a. Stalin stands in continuity with the Russian Revolution

b. Stalin broke with the principles of the Revolution and installed a one-man dictatorship

23. The NEP in the Soviet Union:

a. Beginning of a Democratization Process western style

b. Temporary measure to prepare collectivization

24. League of Nations:

a. The principles of the LoN were valid and would have guaranteed a peaceful world, if USA, Germany and Russia had been part of it from the start

b. The LoN was ill-conceived from its very original ideas in Wilson’s 14 Points

25. The B.U.F.:

a. The B.U.F. could well have established fascism as a serious force in British politics

b. The B.U.F. was destined to remain an ephemeral phenomenon, totally incompatible with UK

26. The French far-right “Leagues”:

a. French Third Republic risked to be overthrown by a fascist regime

b. Harmless agitation by fragmented nationalist grouplets; Republic save and sound

27. Hitler:

a. Unique leader figure who was decisive for the success of the Nazi movement

b. Exchangeable leader; success of Nazi movement would have occurred also without him

28. Nuremberg Racial Laws 1935:

a. The Racial Laws prepared the ground for the coming extermination of Jews

b. The Racial Laws had the scope to segregate Jews and “Aryans” to keep racial “purity” in the interest of cohesion of both communities

29. Italian Racial Laws 1938:

a. Result of an “independent” Italian Antisemitism

b. Result of Italian subordination and alignment to Nazi Germany

30. Stalin’s Great Purges 1934-38:

a. The USSR’s survival depended on the use of violence

b. The USSR could have been built up without the excesses of violence

31. Totalitarian victims:

a. Soviet “enemies of the people” and Nazi “racial enemies” are fundamentally the same

b. The categories “enemies of the people” and “racial enemies” are fundamentally different

32. Francoist Regime in Spain:

a. Franco’s Regime was a Spanish variant of European fascism

b. Franco’s Regime was not fascist

33. Non-Intervention in Spanish Civil War:

a. UK/F did not intervene for fear of escalation to a European War with Germany and Italy

b. UK/F did not intervene, because they did not want to side with USSR in support of Spanish Republicans

34. Appeasement 1935-38:

a. Reasonable attempt to save European Peace

b. UK/F should have engaged in a preventive aggression strategy against fascist powers

35. Hitler-Stalin Pact 1939:

a. Result of a deeper going German-Russian convergence

b. Limited interest-pact of complete antagonists, destined to fail soon

36. Vichy France:

a. The Vichy Regime collaborated with Nazis only to protect French citizens

b. Vichy willingly collaborated with Nazis out of ideological conviction

37. Uniqueness of Holocaust:

a. Holocaust is a unique and incomparable genocide

b. Holocaust is an (over-)reaction to prior genocidal events

38. Final Solution:

a. Holocaust was the original, pre-determined final intention of the Nazis

b. Holocaust was an ad-hoc decision due to War Constraints around 1941/42

39. Resistance:

a. The lack of any significant Resistance against Nazis shows the collective responsibility of the German people for the Regime’s crimes

b. Germans did not resist because the repressive mechanism of the totalitarian regime worked perfectly

40. Fascism in Italian History:

a. The fascist “ventennio” (20 years) was an unnatural intermezzo in the course of an Italian National State developing towards democracy from the Risorgimento to the Republic

b. The fascist “ventennio” (20 years) was the natural result of the shortcomings of the Risor-gimento; the Republic was thus a process of national re-birth, a second Risorgimento

41. Thesis of a “Sonderweg”:

a. Since 1848, Germany engaged on an anti-democratic “special path”, of which the Holocaust was the consequence

b. There is no “special path”. Every country has its particular historical development; the German one cannot be put in comparison because there is no “normal path”.

42. Nuremberg Trials 1945/46:

a. The Trials were the fundamental act of De-nazification trying the main Nazi criminals

b. The Trials were a façade show and did not solve the real problem of De-nazification

43. Tito-Stalin Split 1948:

a. Counterrevolutionary Dissidence from True Communist Ideology

b. Proved the existence of different ways towards Communism

44. Foundation of Israel 1948:

a. Instrumentalization of the Shoah to justify Zionist Interest

b. Final fulfillment of British WWI promises (Balfour Declaration 1917)

45. Neo-fascism in Democracies after 1945:

a. A marginal phenomenon without any political power

b. A serious threat to Democratic Reconstruction

46. Failure of post-fascist Cleansing:

a. Reconciliation necessary to stabilize post-fascist Democracies

b. Economic Interest led Western powers to renounce on serious Cleansing

47. Stalin and the Cold War 1945-53:

a. Stalin tried to defend Russian Security Interests against US Capitalist expansionism

b. Stalin attempted to conquer or gain hegemonic influence over Western Europe

48. Beria Interregnum 1953:

a. Serious attempt for liberalization of the Soviet Block and opening to the West

b. Beria only tried to win the post-Stalin power struggle and establish his own dictatorship

49. Khrushchev’s Speech 1956:

a. Marked the end of the Totalitarian Character of the USSR

b. Did not change the Totalitarian Character of the USSR

50. Historical interpretation of Totalitarianisms:

a. Fascism and Stalinism are two facets of the same phenomenon, thus both “totalitarian”

b. Fascism and Stalinism are fundamentally different from each other; if one is “totalitarian”, the other one consequently can not be “totalitarian”









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