Mad Kings and Monuments: Identity, Human Rights, and Reckoning in Germany

Munich (plus Berlin), Germany

Next Offered
Summer 2024
Approximate Dates of Instruction
Application Deadline
Information Session: Friday, January 26, 2:30 pm, password: CHID

This program is co-sponsored by the Jackson School of International Studies. 

Note: participating students will be required to register for CHID 298 in Spring quarter, meeting Fridays, 10:30 AM -12:20 PM (two credits, CR/NC). 

With a focus on Munich, the Bavarian region of Germany, and Berlin, this program offers place-based historical exploration of social, political, racial, religious, and cultural dimensions of German nation-building before and after the Holocaust. Famous for its picturesque mountains and castles, Bavaria has also been a crucible for wrenching social change, and has fostered nationalist domestic policy and world-views ranging from “Mad” King Ludwig to the Third Reich.  Students will learn about the philosophy and practice of eugenics within the German historical context, while touring the actual sites where the policies originated and were put into practice.  The program will conclude with a week-long tour of Berlin, where local and national identity through memorials will be explored, contextualized, and compared to memorials dedicated to the victims of National Socialism in present-day Munich, Nürnberg, Berchtesgaden, and Dachau. 

We will explore in and around Munich, including the Third Reich walking tour, Institut für Zeitgeschichte, National Socialism Documentation Museum, and Jewish Museum.  Day trips in Bavaria will include the legendary castles at Neuschwanstein/Linderhof, the “ideal” German village of Rothenburg ob der Tauber, the Eagle’s Nest (Kehlsteinhaus)/Hitler’s Bunker/the Berchtesgaden WWII museum, Nürnberg Nazi rally sites/WWII museum/the Nürnberg Palace of Justice, and the Memorial Site on the grounds of the former Dachau concentration camp.  In Berlin, we will take daily walking tours to sites including the Jewish Memorial, Roma and Sinti memorials, the Russian WWII memorial site, the Berlin Wall, the DDR Museum, and the Reichstag (Germany’s parliament building).  In our program, we will hold discussions around the complexities of Germany’s national identity through memory practices such as memorials and museums.  While these have provided a leaping point for important discussions, they are limited in how they engage with anti-multiculturalism discourse, such as the backlash of the Alternative for Germany (AfD) (Germany’s increasingly popular nationalist party). Topics for specific analysis include: conceptions and official policy for what it means to “be German;” the legacies of the Holocaust and contemporary antisemitism; post-war Turkish immigration; and the human rights approaches of today’s Germany as a multicultural nation that is now engaging its colonial past. 

Students will engage with the themes of the course through reflections of the sites, enhanced by group discussions, readings, and film. The sequential writings will serve as the foundation for a final paper or project, which takes up the themes of the program through contrasting memorial sites or museums, engaging in complex questions around the sites and their limitations, or demonstrating new and innovative approaches to memorials and museums through the description of a new creation.

This 12-credit program is open to all undergraduate students.  We seek students who think deeply about complex issues, approach their studies from an interdisciplinary perspective, and engage with their questions through theoretical and practical applications. 

Note that all breakfasts (and some additional meals) are included in the program fee.

  • CHID 471 / JSIS 387 A: German National Identity and Human Rights in Munich, Bavaria, and Berlin (5 credits SSc)

  • CHID 390 / JSIS 387 B: Nation Building through Monuments in Munich, Bavaria, and Berlin (5 credits SSc)

  • CHID 499 / JSIS 488: Memory Practices in Munich, Bavaria, and Berlin (2 credits SSc)
Fulfills Requirements
CHID Cultural and Historical Engagement
CHID Ideas in the World
CHID 390
SSc Credit
Total Program Fees

*Note that the fees stated above do not include some additional costs, including, but not limited to, airfare and personal spending money. These costs will differ by program. Be sure to read our Fees, Financing, and Withdrawal information for details about the fee structure and payment schedule.