The Holocaust, 1933-1945, was a human disaster of unprecedented proportions. Mass murder by “lawful” decree reached extraordinary proportions when a faceless and mindless bureaucracy combined with passionate hatred to lay waste European Jewish culture and millions of its practitioners. As a result, concepts of civilization were undermined, cherished ideas such as rationalism and progress as the basis for societal conduct were challenged, and the power of the churches and their teachings were called into question. Intellect and goodwill accounted for little in the Nazi era.
The Holocaust studies minor provides an opportunity to study the Holocaust and its impact on society. This enterprise must go beyond history and religion, because the Holocaust cannot be understood without knowledge of the dynamics of prejudice, of propaganda, of political and social organization, of social and psychological deviance, or of the history of Judaism and the Jewish people. Holocaust study is by its very nature interdisciplinary.