A History of Hitler's Empire, 2nd Edition

A History of Hitler's Empire, 2nd Edition
Course Trailer
The Third Reich, Hitler, and the 20th Century
1: The Third Reich, Hitler, and the 20th Century

Why is it important to study the Nazi movement? What was it about the political context of post-WWI Europe and Germany that allowed an extremist group which, at its start, had just a handful of members, to take over the country in less than 15 years' time?

32 min
The First World War and Its Legacy
2: The First World War and Its Legacy

After suffering terrible losses and hearing constantly from their rulers that they would win, Germans-and none more so than a wounded Austrian-born volunteer soldier named Adolf Hitler-were shocked by the Armistice of 1918 and the harsh Versailles Treaty that followed.

31 min
The Weimar Republic and the Rise of the Nazi Party
3: The Weimar Republic and the Rise of the Nazi Party

Examine the problems that beset Germany's new democratic government after WWI, and trace the origins of the tiny National Socialist party and Hitler's emergence as its leader between 1919 and the "Beer Hall Putsch" of November 1923.

31 min
The Twenties and the Great Depression
4: The Twenties and the Great Depression

The late '20s were politically quiet but economically harsh years for Germany. The Nazi party focused on winning members and votes but remained stuck on the fringe of German politics.

31 min
The Nazi Breakthrough
5: The Nazi Breakthrough

The economic crisis from 1929 to 1932 enabled Nazism to thrust itself into the mainstream. Using a revolutionary strategy of perpetual campaigning and other new techniques, the Nazis became Germany's largest political party with 38 percent of the vote.

31 min
Hitler's Assumption of Power
6: Hitler's Assumption of Power

The November 1932 elections showed signs that the Nazi voter coalition was unraveling. How, then, did Hitler get appointed chancellor in early 1933? How did he consolidate the bases of Nazi power once in office?

31 min
Racial Policy and the Totalitarian State
7: Racial Policy and the Totalitarian State

The events of the first two years after Hitler took power can be seen as the prelude to worse terrors to come, this time aimed not at possible political opponents, but at those considered to be racial or social "undesirables."

32 min
Hitler's Foreign Policy
8: Hitler's Foreign Policy

Why is it not enough to think of Hitler simply as a "madman bent on world domination"? What were his aims and strategy, and how did they drive the world rapidly toward global war?

32 min
Munich and the Triumph of National Socialism
9: Munich and the Triumph of National Socialism

This lecture covers the stunning advance of the Nazi regime beginning with the Munich Agreement of 1938. Hitler swallowed Czechoslovakia, signed a cynical pact with Stalin, invaded Poland, and stood on the verge of becoming master of the European continent.

31 min
War in the West, War in the East
10: War in the West, War in the East

To Hitler, the brutal war against the "Judeo-Bolshevik" Soviet Union, unleashed on June 22, 1941, was always the main event. On his western flank, however, Churchill's Britain remained unbroken and defiant, and America was slowly coming to her aid.

31 min
Holocaust-Hitler's War Against the Jews
11: Holocaust-Hitler's War Against the Jews

Between 1939 and 1942, the Nazis pursued several options regarding what they called "the Jewish question." In late 1941, they finally opted for what they called "the final solution." It called for mass murder hidden behind a program of fictive "resettlement in the east."

31 min
The Final Solution
12: The Final Solution

Here you examine the later stages of the Nazi murder campaign, asking also what the Allies knew and what they did. The lecture and the course close with the final destruction of the Third Reich, and a reflection on the lessons to be drawn from this chapter in what Churchill called "the dark and lamentable catalogue of human crime."

36 min
Thomas Childers

Facts don't change, but we do, and our perspective on them changes. We learn new things, and as a result of this, it is necessary to reevaluate ... what we have known and how it looks different to us at this particular point.


Harvard University


University of Pennsylvania

About Thomas Childers

Dr. Thomas Childers is Sheldon and Lucy Hackney Professor of History at the University of Pennsylvania, where he has been teaching for over 25 years. He earned his bachelor's and master's degrees from the University of Tennessee and his Ph.D. in History from Harvard University.

Professor Childers has held visiting professorships at Trinity Hall College, Cambridge, Smith College, and Swarthmore College. He is a popular lecturer abroad as well, in London, Oxford, Berlin, and Munich.

Professor Childers has won several teaching awards, including the Ira T. Abrahms Award for Distinguished Teaching and Challenging Teaching in the Arts and Sciences, the Richard S. Dunn Award for Distinguished Teaching in History, and the Senior Class Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching.

Professor Childers is the author and editor of several books on modern German history and the Second World War. He is currently completing a trilogy on the Second World War. The first volume, Wings of Morning: The Story of the Last American Bomber Shot Down over Germany in World War II, was praised by Jonathan Yardley in The Washington Post as "a powerful and unselfconsciously beautiful book."

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