Before the Holocaust A Global History of the Nazi “Jewish Question”

Well before the Nazis came to power, many German, Jewish, and other European politicians and intellectuals debated the so-called “Jewish Question”: namely the question of whether to emancipate and integrate the Jews into the modern nation-state or encourage them to leave Europe to form their own state in Palestine or some other colonial territory. When the “Jewish Question” is discussed by historians, however, it is almost always examined as a prelude to the Holocaust or Shoah – what Hitler and the Nazis called the “Final Solution [Endlösung]” to the “Jewish Question [Judenfrage].” What gets overlooked in this understandable focus on the Holocaust is that the “Final Solution” emerged very late in the history of the Nazi “Jewish Question,” after many other so-called “solutions” had been pursued. 

What were the various conceptions and “solutions” to the (Nazi) “Jewish Question” before the “Final Solution” (1941-1942)? To what degree did other European and non-European states, including the United States, help define, determine, or oppose these conceptions of the Nazi “Jewish Question« and its various solutions? What were the political-institutional, cultural-intellectual, and socioeconomic constraints? To what degree did alternative "solutions" succeed and why, ultimately, did most fail? What lessons might this research provide in dealing with contemporary nationality, minority, and refugee "questions"?

In this sample class, we begin with an interactive lecture, introducing students to the broader context and debates regarding why these questions constitute a core element in Holocaust research. We will then discuss an "in-progress" academic article, offering some new theoretical and methodological approaches to answering these questions."

About the Instructor

Eric Kurlander

Eric Kurlander serves as William R. Kenan Jr. Professor of History at Stetson University. His recent monograph, Hitler’s Monsters: A Supernatural History of the Third Reich (Yale, 2018) offers the first comprehensive study of the supernatural in Nazi Germany, illustrating how the Third Reich drew upon a wide variety of occult practices, esoteric sciences and pagan religious ideas to gain power, shape propaganda and policy, and pursue their dreams of racial utopia and empire.

Kurlander's other books include Living With Hitler: Liberal Democrats in the Third Reich (Yale, 2009), The Price of Exclusion: Ethnicity, National Identity, and the Decline of German Liberalism, 1898-1933 (Berghahn, 2006), Revisiting the ‘Nazi Occult': Histories, Realities, Legacies, co-edited with Monica Black (Camden House, 2015) and Transcultural Encounters between Germany and India: Kindred Spirits in the 19th and 20th Centuries, co-edited with Joanne Miyang Cho and Douglas McGetchin (Routledge, 2014). His current projects include a textbook, Modern Germany: A Global History (under contract with Oxford University Press) and a monograph, Before the Final Solution: A Global History of the Nazi “Jewish Question.


Registration Information

Appropriate for Grades 7-12

Next Course: TBA


Cost: $25
Stetson community discount and scholarships available for those in financial need

Payment in full is required at the time of registration to reserve your seat in this class. Payments can be made online or over the phone. For more information, please contact Stetson Young Scholars at
386-822-7100 or [email protected]