Course Syllabus

Battlefield Europe: Military History of World War II

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Semester & Location:

Spring 2019 - DIS Copenhagen

Type & Credits:

Elective Course - 3 credits

Study Tour:

Normandy, France

Major Disciplines:

History, Political Science 

Faculty Members:

Torben Jørgensen

Program Director:

Neringa B. Vendelbo -

Time & Place:

Tuesdays & Fridays 10.05 – 11.25. Classroom: F24-306


Description of course

On June 6th, 1944, Allied forces from Britain, France, Canada and the US arrived to the beaches of Normandy. This landing would spell the end for Nazi Germany. While much has been said about the bloody Omaha beach battle and the US efforts, this enormous and complicated invasion was planned for years by people from numerous countries and brought about by thousands of individuals. In this course we will study the decisions made at the highest levels, the conditions and experiences of the fighting men, and the predicament of the civilians trapped in the middle of the unfolding battles. Finally, we will study the impact of the invasion, both then and in collective memory post-WWII.

Learning Objectives

By the end of this course students will:

  • gain a historical overview of the Second World War;
  • gain an in depth knowledge of the Normandy Invasion on D-Day in 1944;
  • learn the basic tools and methods of the design of history through the study of World War II. 


Torben Jørgensen.  Cand.mag. (History, University of Copenhagen, 2003). With the Danish Jewish Museum, 2007-2008. Researcher, Danish Institute for International Studies, Department for Holocaust and Genocide Studies, 2003-5. Researcher, Danish Center for Holocaust and Genocide Research, 2000-3. Author of books and articles on the Holocaust and other genocides. With DIS from 2008.


The following copy is available for semester long use. To be picked up during the arrivals week 'book pick up'.

  • Ambrose, Stephen E. (1994): June 6, 1944: D-Day. The Climactic Battle of World War II, Simon & Schuster Paperbacks, New York 

All chapters in the book will be read during the semester and below are examples of chapters covered during the course:

1: The Defenders
2: The Attackers
3: The Commanders
6: Planning and Preparing
8: Marshaling and Briefing
11: Cracking the Atlantic Wall: The Airborne into Normandy
14: A Long Endless Column of Ships: The Naval Crossing and Bombardment
17: Visitors to Hell: The 116th Regiment at Omaha
18: Utter Chaos Reigned: The 16th Regiment at Omaha
19: Traffic Jam: Tanks, Artillery, and Engineers at Omaha
26: The World Holds Its Breath: D-Day on the Home Fronts
32: "My God, We've Done It": The British Airborne on D-Day

  • Hein Severloh: WN62. Latvija 2016
  • C.B. MacDonald: Company Commander. NY 1955

Field Studies

13 February 2019: 13.00-17.00

13 March 2019: 8.30-12.30

Study Tour

14-17 April 2018 to Normandy, France

This tour aims to provide insight not only into the dilemmas faced and the subsequent decisions made by the Allied and German leaderships, but to all people affected by the war. From the sea-sick soldiers on the ground to the trapped civilians, this study tour exposes you to the consequences caused by decisions made at the highest levels. You gain a further understanding of the long-term ramifications of the war for Europe and the rest of the world.

  • Gain insight into how the opening of the second front shaped the outcome of WWII
  • Understand the predicaments facing the fighting troops and the civilians trapped in the area
  • Deepen your knowledge of the interplay between military and political decision making

Approach to teaching

By nature, I am a storyteller and a lecturer. I put a premium on approachability. Humor, trust and the sense of ownership of history is important to my teaching style. My ideal class takes student questions as a point of departure for discussions.

Expectations of students

Prepare for class via readings and questions. Always try your best.







Final Paper


Academic Regulations  

Please make sure to read the Academic Regulations on the DIS website. There you will find regulations on:



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