UC Santa Cruz announced today the launch of its first free online course open to the public through the Coursera platform.

Titled The Holocaust, the course traces the destruction of the Jews and Jewish life in Europe by Nazi Germany, drawing on major works of history, literature, and film.

It explores not only the destruction of European Jewry, but also the shifting historical conditions from which the Holocaust emerged.

Students taking the 10-week class will study memoirs, historical documents, poetry, documentary footage, films, novels, and other media that help to illustrate the variety of human experience during this important historical episode.

It is designed to provide participants with an expanded knowledge and understanding of Eastern and Western Jewish communities, the origins and development of anti-Semitism, the formation and operation of concentration camps, resistance movements, and the Holocaust as a problem for world history.

The course will be taught by professors Murray Baumgarten and Peter Kenez, based on their acclaimed UC Santa Cruz class that regularly draws more than 300 students each year. The course is supported by UCSC’s Neufeld-Levin Chair in Holocaust studies.

Baumgarten (B.A. Columbia, Ph.D. Berkeley) is a distinguished professor of English & contemporary literature, co-director of Jewish Studies, and founding director of The Dickens Project at UC Santa Cruz.

He has published books and articles on modern Jewish and English writing, as well as original fiction and translation. Baumgarten’s recent work has focused on the Jews of Venice and the afterlife of the Ghetto. He is the recipient of a campus award for excellence in teaching.

Kenez is a professor emeritus in the History Department at UC Santa Cruz and a founding faculty member of UCSC's Stevenson College. Kenez is a native of Hungary and a Holocaust survivor. He received his Ph.D. from Harvard University and has been teaching Russian and modern European history at UCSC since 1966.

Kenez is the author of eight books, including A History of the Soviet Union from the Beginning to the End and the autobiographical Varieties of Fear: Growing Up Jewish Under Nazism and Communism. His most recent work is titled From Antisemitism to Genocide; the Origins of the Holocaust.

UC Santa Cruz is one of more than 60 university campuses from around the world to offer free online courses to the public through Coursera.

For more information or to sign up for the new UCSC course, visit the Coursera web site.