Hist 314 > Syllabus

Hist 314: History of Germany

  • Robinson Hall B113
  • Mark R. Stoneman, Ph.D.
  • Spring 2017
  • George Mason University

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This course will explore German history over the past two centuries, following a mixed chronological and thematic approach and making occasional forays into earlier periods. It will begin with a chronological and geographical overview so that students can move among the many different states and periods without getting lost. Afterwards, it will explore German history from a thematic perspective. Depending on student interests and needs, this part of the course will consider, for example, economic and technological developments, class and gender, war and society, nationalism, anti-Semitism, political ideologies, and the work that historians do. To make German history as meaningful and memorable as possible, the course will, wherever possible, also encourage students to establish connections with other histories they have studied.


Your grade will be determined by the following components according to the
percentages that follow them, with one caveat:

*Caveat: An “F” in the process portion of the requirements will
result in an F for the whole course.

The midterm will be 5 to 7 pages long (double-spaced) and the final 8 to 10 pages. The length of the bibliography and accompanying essay will depend on the topic and available historiography.

Journaling for this class (part of the process requirement) will be explained in class and written directions provided shortly.

No late work will be accepted, except in the case of significant illness or injury. If that is the case (knock on wood), you must supply medical attestation right away.

Grading System

I determine all grades for the above components as letter grades, and then I convert them to numbers based on a 100-point scale to determine your course average. The equivalents I use are as follows: A = 95 (occasionally higher for particularly excellent work), A- = 92.5, A-/B+ = 90, B+ = 87.5, B = 85, B- = 82.5, and so on.

I calculate course grades according to the weighting in the requirements section above. The cutoff for an A in the course is a 93 average, for an A- a 90 average, for a B+ an 87.5 average, for a B an 83, for a B- an 80, and so on.


I will schedule office hours by the second week of class. Office hours are by appointment. The best way to reach me outside of class and office hours is via email at

I will usually make announcements on the course page of my blog at, although students should also check their email.

Honor Code

Academic honesty is essential not only to the success of the course, but also to your academic and professional careers. Thus, you are expected to know what plagiarism is and abide by the Mason Honor Code at If you are at all unclear about what plagiarism and other forms of academic dishonesty are, please talk to me.

Special Accommodations

Students requiring an academic accommodation should see me immediately and also contact the Office of Disability Services at or 703-993-2474.


There are two required books, both of which are available in affordable electronic and paperback formats.

  • Hagen, William W. German History in Modern Times: Four Lives of the Nation. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2012.
  • Fritzsche, Peter. Life and Death in the Third Reich. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2008.

There will also be primary source readings taken from German History and Documents (GHDI) at These will be announced as we move through the course.

Journal articles and other essays will be assigned for classes in the second half of the course, after we have determined those topics. I will make these available via Blackboard.


Jan 24

  • Introduction

Jan 31

  • Old Regime
  • Reading: Hagen, 1–94

Feb 7

  • Making the German Nation-State
  • Reading: Hagen, 94–182

Feb 14

  • Imperial Germany; World War I
  • Reading: Hagen, 183–240

Feb 21

  • Revolution; Weimar Republic
  • Reading: Hagen, 241–283

Feb 28

  • Nazi Germany; World War II; Holocaust
  • Reading: Hagen, 284–350

Mar 7

  • Divided Germany; Reunification
  • Hagen, 351–426

Mar 10 (Fri)

Mar 13–19: Spring Break

Mar 21

  • Prepare suggestions for topics to cover Apr 4 through May 2
  • Be prepared to decide on bibliography project collaborators and topic
  • Submit marked up copy of your journal (directions forthcoming)

Mar 28

  • Inside Nazi Germany
  • Reading: Fritzsche (whole book)

Apr 4

  • Topic and readings to be announced after Mar. 21

Apr 11

  • Topic and readings to be announced after Mar. 21

Apr 18

  • Topic and readings to be announced after Mar. 21

Apr 25

  • Topic and readings to be announced after Mar. 21

May 2 (last class)

  • Topic and readings (light, if any), to be announced
  • Submit marked up copy of your journal (directions forthcoming)

May 5 (Fri)

  • Bibliography projects due electronically by 10:00 pm

May 16 (Tue)

  • Take-home final due electronically by 10:00 pm

PDF syllabus revised on 1/25/2016 to reflect move from Blackboard to blog page. This HTML version, posted on 2/20/2016, is the same, except for corrections relating to office hours.

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Featured images on this page: (1) Trabant advertising (GDR), source unknown; (2) mounted messenger in the Wehrmacht, 1940, shortly before his deployment to the East, used under terms of Creative Commons license CC-BY-SA-3.0 (de) by permission of RaBoe/Wikipedia. Source: Wikimedia Commons,