Dons deny denial

November 19, 2010

As the Oxford historians responsible for teaching the course on nazi Germany mentioned by Michael Pinto-Duschinsky (How Historians Remove Stains, JC June 11) we are astonished that the JC would publish something so misleading.

This course, which Pinto-Duschinsky does not name, is clearly titled "nazi Germany: A racial Order". Bibliographies for every one of its weekly topics include titles directly on the subject of antisemitism and the Holocaust; three of the eight weeks of teaching are focused solely on the role of antisemitism and the persecution of the Jews in and by nazi Germany, viz: Antisemitism and Everyday Life, The Politics of the Final Solution and Perpetrators and Victims.

That Pinto-Duschinksy accuses us of not confronting the "harrowing" events of the period, and of ignoring the view that "antisemitism was at the heart of the tragedy" would be laughable if the accusation were not so serious. The course reading includes 2,000 pages of primary sources, documenting everything from the orchestration of Kristallnacht to the mass murders in wartime Poland and the Soviet union to the daily suffering in the ghettos and camps; from Hitler's pronouncements in Mein Kampf to Himmler's notorious speech to the nazi leadership in October 1943; from the ghetto diary of Dawid Sierakowiak to that of Victor Klemperer. The vast array of secondary literature requires students to engage with numerous historical interpretations of nazi Germany and the Holocaust.

In this advanced course, final-year students grapple directly with the interpretation of the primary sources. In addition, the Holocaust features on the outline courses in Oxford covering 20th-century european and world history. There is no justification for claiming that the subject is "relatively

little taught in the university", or that it is somehow influenced by the source of utterly unrelated funds available for graduate students to study in Germany. As scholars who have devoted our lives to studying and teaching the history of nazi Germany, we are personally and professionally affronted at the imputation that our teaching has even the faintest association with Holocaust denial.

(Professor) Jane Caplan, director, European Studies Centre, St Antony's College, Oxford; (Dr) Nicholas Stargardt, fellow and tutor in history, Magdalen College, Oxford

Last updated: 3:46pm, November 22 2010