Historical Traumas: Collective Memory and Education



Type of instruction




Part of degree program


Recommended in

Semester 4

Typically offered in

Spring semester

Course description

Aim of the course is:

to understand the effect of collective traumas on intergroup relations. The course covers the most important socio-psychological theories of intergroup conflicts (scapegoat theories, systematic frustration and the role of ideologies in intergroup violence), and the psychology of violence justification (cognitive dissonance theory, conformity and the ignorance of pluralism, studies by Milgram and Zimbardo). Individual and collective consequences of social trauma, the importance of collective memory in respect of social identity and intergroup relations will be discussed as well. Besides theoretical approaches to intergroup violence and its consequences special attention will be paid to Holocaust, anti-bias and human rights education in connection with genocide prevention and promoting intergroup tolerance.

Learning outcome, competences

  • is aquainted with the most important theoretical approaches in the field of social psychology of intergroup conflicts and intergroup violence
  • is familiar with the different symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder, the formation of these symptoms, and the conditions of facing collective traumas and reconciliation
  • is familiar with the international standards for Holocaust education


  • can emphatise with the consequences of collective traumas across generations
  • is sensitive to the psychological needs of the members of groups affected by collective traumas
  • respects the human dignity of the victims and their descendants


  • is able to analyse the experiences of the different actors in the society of collective violence
  • is able to reflect on Holocaust education in the human rights education framework
  • is able to apply the international Holocaust education standard for evaluating Holocaust exhibitions and teaching materials

Content of the course
Topics of the course

  • Introduction
  • Collective trauma and collective identity
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder and transmission of trauma across generations
  • Collective memory and intergroup emotions
  • The psychology of collective violence
  • Prejudice and genocide
  • Modernity and genocide
  • The model of the society of the Holocaust, the motivations of rescuers
  • Holocaust education in the framework of human rights education
  • Survivor testimonies in education
  • Education on the Roma genocide
  • The method of peer guiding in Holocaust education
  • Children literature and Holocaust education

Learning activities, learning methods

  • lectures and presentations
  • experimental learning: different approaches in Holocaust education and comparison of different exhibitions
  • development of own teaching plan

Evaluation of outcomes
Learning requirements, mode of evaluation, criteria of evaluation:


  • oral presentation
  • essay on collective memory (comparison of two exhibitions: House of Terror and Holocaust Memorial Center)
  • development of teaching plan
  • final test

mode of evaluation: complex (written and oral)

  • 20 % oral presentation
  • 25 % essay
  • 25 % development of teaching plan
  • 30 % final test

criteria of evaluation:

  • adequate knowledge of the literature
  • the application of Holocaust education guidelines and methods

Compulsory reading list

  • Bauman, Z. (1989). Modernity and the Holocaust. Cornell University Press.
  • Newman, L.S. & Erber, R. (eds.) (2002) Understanding Genocide. The Social Psychology of the Holocaust. Oxford University Press
  • Herman, J. L. (2010) Trauma and Recovery. From domestic abuse to political terror. Pandora
  • Kovács, Monika (2005) Holocaust Education and Remembrance. Judit Molnár, J. (ed.) The Holocaust in Hungary a European Perspective. Balassi Kiadó. 723–739.
  • Kovács, Monika (2016) Global and Local Holocaust Remembrance. In Randolph L. Braham – András Kovács (eds.) The Holocaust in Hungary. Seventy Years Later. Central European University Jewish Studies Program – Central European University Press, Budapest – New York, 231-250.

Recommended reading list

  • Altemeyer, B. (2004) The Other „Authoritarian Personality” In Jost, J.T. & Sidanius, J. (eds.) Political Psychology. Psychology Press
  • Assmann, A. (2006). History, memory, and the genre of testimony. Poetics Today, 27(2), 261-273.
  • Young, J. E. (1998). The Holocaust as vicarious past: Art Spiegelman's Maus and the afterimages of history. Critical Inquiry, 24, 666-699.
  • Welzer, H. (2005). Grandpa wasn't a Nazi: The Holocaust in German family remembrance. American Jewish Committee.
  • Imhoff, R., Bilewicz, M., Hanke, K., Kahn, D. T., Henkel‐Guembel, N., Halabi, S., ... & Hirschberger, G. (2016). Explaining the Inexplicable: Differences in Attributions for the Holocaust in Germany, Israel, and Poland. Political Psychology