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Psychology/History: Garden of Beasts

The Psychology and History of Nazism, the Holocaust and Communism HIST4058/PSYCH4610

  • Berlin and Prague

Course Details

Preferred majors for this course are: Psychology, History, Political Science, Criminal Justice, Medical and Health Sciences, International Relations, Pre Med, Sociology The Auschwitz death camp was liberated nearly eighty years ago. The Berlin Wall was demolished in 1989. Yet the passage of time seems only to increase our desire to learn about World War II, the Nazis, the Holocaust, and the Soviet Union's brutal purges and police systems. Why? Team taught by a professor of Psychology and a professor of History, our course is an interdisciplinary immersion into the terrifying heart of Berlin and Prague in the 20th century. Together we will walk to sites of Nazi atrocities and explore where the Soviet's mighty system of police surveillance held murderous sway for the entirety of the Cold War. As we assess the fascinating historical and psychological factors underlying the rise and fall of Nazism and Communism in Europe, our class will grapple with a single question over all others: what historical and psychological factors contributed to making reasonable and good people fall under the spell of monstrous and murderous ideologies? Come with us through gorgeous parks, storied art museums and gut-wrenching sites of torture and memorialization to explore complex themes of life and death in the last century, such as: 1) the social identity questions and conditions that led to the rise of Nazism and Communism; 2) how propaganda tactics and media systems were built and deployed to fuel the rise of extremism; 3) how racial policies and oppressive police tactics worked to manipulate, oppress and murder enormous populations; 4) how carefully crafted logistical, terror and genocidal systems were devised that resulted in the Holocaust and the Communist system of oppression and prison camps; 5) how social and psychological factors were the basis for the murderous mindset of Nazi and Communist leaders; 6) and what elements of personality and culture girded the heroic leadership of the brave networks of civilian and military resistance to both the Nazis and the Communists. 3 or 4 credit hours in either Psychology or History. (All Catalyst courses meet for 54 hours of contact, so if your university runs its courses on a 4 hour format instead of a three hour one this course may be able to count for 4 hours. You should consult with your advisor.)

Contact Details


416 Laurel Avenue Saint Paul, MN 55102

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