The Holocaust in North Africa

History 103U.001

Fall 2018
3104 Dwinelle
Day & Time: 
Th 10-12
Class Number: 

While the Holocaust's center and worst atrocities occurred in Europe, the event had an immense impact as well on Jewish and non-Jewish populations far beyond the continent, especially in North Africa and its surrounding regions. Allied and Axis armies fought across North Africa for extensive portions of World War II. The area was eventually home to more than 100 wartime labor camps, in which Jews were often singled out for particularly harsh treatment. Jews in Algeria, Morocco, Tunisia, and Libya faced severe restrictions on employment, property, and education comparable to those imposed in parts of Western Europe. In Algeria, all Jews were stripped of their French citizenship, and in small numbers helped lead an underground movement that played a critical role in the success of the November 1942 Allied Landing. After the war, the memory of fascism and the Holocaust played a major role in North African and Middle Eastern society, in debates over decolonization, the question of Israel-Palestine, and the broader future of Jewish-Muslim relations.

This course examines all of these aspects of the crucial importance of the Holocaust to North Africa and its surrounding areas. How, we will ask, might expanding the geographical boundaries of the Holocaust force us to rethink concepts like perpetrators, victims, and collaboration? What choices, challenges, and opportunities existed for Jews in Vichy, Italian, and Nazi-occupied North Africa that mirrored or diverged from those in Europe? We will also interrogate more broadly the significance, impact, and memory of the Holocaust in the Muslim world, as our readings take us well beyond North Africa into the Arab Middle East and even into Central Asia. Another fundamental question that we tackle from several angles is the complex relationship between colonialism and the Holocaust, both as historical phenomena and in the collective memories of various nations and groups.