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History EE Research Question Nietzsche and Holocaust

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Hai, my name is Jonna and I'm new to this. I mean the entire forum concept in general; sorry if I mess up.

SO, this will sound a little silly, but I forgot my research question a couple weeks into the summer. It was the perfect research question that my supvervisor and I had decided upon. I have already contacted my supervisor and he has none of his EE shtuff with him up in who knows wherever is spending his summer.

The best research question I can come up with is "To what extent was the philosophy of Friedrich Nietzsche present in Nazi policy?"

I don't know if it sounds professional enough. I am trying to shed light on the fact that Nietzsche was NOT anti-Semitic and his sister altered his notes before publishing items such as The Will to Power, after his death. I will do so by using letters he sent, books he published, biographies I can find, as well as speeches made by Hitler and general policies enforced during the Holocaust. I am having a lot of difficulty, but I am getting somewhere with my research. It is rumored that Hitler used Nietzsche's altered philosophy for his own fascist bidding during the Holocaust. Any thoughts would be appreciated (as well as any places I can look on the internet, that you may somehow know off the top of your head)!!

Edited by Jonna

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I am not an expert, but my main worry would be that this is not a historical topic(???). You're not really looking into history, you're just talking about two ideologies. The number one rule of EEs is that you should pick a subject and then tailor your research question to completely fit the criteria, otherwise you set off on the wrong foot and will never score highly. Perhaps you can re-phrase your research question to focus more completely on Nietzche's life or something. Maybe somebody who did history will be able to help you more.

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Well, I am planning on splitting my essay body into sections.


  1. Abstract
  2. Contents
  3. Chapter 1
  • Nietzsche

+ Death

  • Elizabeth
  • Family familiars
  1. Chapter 2
  • Nazism
  • Anti-Semitism
  • Nihilism
  1. Chapter 3
  • Nazi policies
  • Nietzsche philosophies
  1. Chapter 4
  • Conclusion
  1. References

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Hey there, Jonna! Welcome to the IBSurvival forums!

Although Sandwich claims to not be an expert (and nor do I, but I've at least studied history and I did write my EE in history!), I do share her worries that the research question would not lead to, or even facilitate, a historical investigation. The reasons are, as she pointed out, that you don't focus on something that has historical importance. Instead, by concentrating on the philosophy of Nietzsche and the Nazi ideology, you're really discussing something I would imagine a philosophical EE would concentrate on (though, beware that I don't have any experience with the Philosophy course). The outline you provided looks fine, but the content is not applicable to the history subject.

If you want to write an EE in history, I suggest you find the titles and RQs of other history EEs first. Even the exam questions will give you an idea of how you should formulate a RQ and what to focus on. Here are the two examples provided in the EE guide:

1. To what extent were Hitler’s educational aims fulfilled in the Uhland Gymnasium, 1937–1939?

2. How and why have explanations of the Cuban missile crisis changed since 1962?

(found on page 81)

As you can see, they focus on historical events or aspects and study the historical elements behind these aspects or events, which is exactly what history EEs should focus on. You need to choose an event which interests you (causes and consequences of events are very good starting points), do a lot of research (this is key!), write a preliminary RQ, do some more research, narrow down your RQ, do more specialised research, narrow down your RQ even further, start writing, then adjust your RQ as needed.

For instance, let's say you're interested in the First World War. You do some research, and learn a lot about Gavrilo Princip and the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand in June 1914. You write your preliminary research question: 'To what extent was the Shots of Sarajevo an important cause of 1914?' Now, this is a quite bad research question, but it works as a preliminary RQ, as such a RQ should just help you do more research on a specific topic and guide the planning part. You do some more research on the topic, and find Young Bosnia, the nationalist organisation Princip was part of, interesting. You transform your RQ into 'To what extent can Young Bosnia be said to cause the First World War?' This is a much better and narrowed RQ than the first one, and this allows you to really focus your research on what matters. In fact, you could write a proper outline at this stage, though you should be ready to alter it later on. You choose to find some first-hand sources, as you heard from an online forum called IBSurvival that first-hand sources are excellent for history EEs. In the process, you learn that The Black Hand, another secret organisation, provided Young Bosnia with the weapons and training they needed. After a while, you're lucky, you manage to find the minutes from a meeting between Colonel Dimitrievitch, the leader of The Black Hand, and Gavrilo Princip. This document is so fascinating that you choose to focus your entire EE on it and its implications for world history. As a consequence, you change your RQ to 'To what extent can the meeting between Colonel Dimitrievitch and Gavrilo Princip on [date] be said to cause the First World War?' You then start writing, and you hopefully end up with an A.

(If you wonder, Colonel Dimitrievich was the leader of a secret organisation called The Black Hand. This organisation did supply arms to Young Bosnia, which Gavrilo Princip, the murderer of Archduke Franz Ferdinand, was part of. However, a meeting between the Colonel and Princip did probably not take place in real life, and was just imagined for demonstration purposes.)

That's the process that I went through with my EE, and that you should go through with your EE as well. In the example above, you focus on one historical event that had some kind of impact on the society, and you explore a small part of that event that is not widely known. It might seem extensive and a lot of work, but keep in mind that an EE is meant to be extensive and a result of a lot of research and study. I spent months researching and writing mine, for which I actually received an A.

At this stage, you're probably wondering whether or not you should leave the idea of writing about Nietzsche's philosophy, or writing a history EE at all. For the latter part, I cannot really give you a clear-cut answer. It really depends on your interests and ambitions. However, I did really enjoy writing my own EE, partly because I find history a very interesting subject, partly because I studied something only a few actual historians have ever mentioned (I've only found one historian to date who've mentioned the first-hand sources I studied explicitly). For the former part, I'd say that you could still write a history essay about Nietzsche and his philosophy. However, you must add a historical element to the research question. You cannot focus solely on the philosophy, as you would with the current RQ. As I'm not familiar with Nietzsche's works, I can unfortunately give you a sensible example at the moment. A pitfall you would need to be aware of, though, is that the IBO requires EEs to fit into one subject only, and it cannot be interdisciplinary. Therefore, you must make sure it is not a philosophy RQ, which your current RQ can be said to be. Keep this in mind if you choose to stay with Nietzsche's philosophy.

However, I would actually recommend you to start the process anew. Distance yourself from Nietzsche, and choose a subject you want to write your EE in. This should be a subject you enjoy. Then, choose a topic that is clearly within that subject's borders. If you choose history as subject, I'd advise you to choose an event that interest you and go through the process I detailed above. That is the way you should develop your history EE properly.

I also suggest you read the EE guide, the pinned threads in this sub-forum (the pinned threads are those with drawing pins beside the titles) and the pinned threads in the history sub-forum. I'm sure those resources will help you tremendously.

Good luck!

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If I start over, I would really really really like to stay in the area of Nietzsche because I have been doing research on this general area for nearly a year now, throughout last school year. I've been thinking about Nietzsche as my focus since sophomore year. My supervisor said that if I can manage to pull this off, I should be able to receive a high mark. When I originally began researching, I was intrigued that his sister had changed his notes and then published them. Could I focus, back specifically on that event? Perhaps examine the relationship his sister had with her husband and ultimately to Hitler? I have (through procrastination) avoided reading too much of Nietzsche's works (actually... I've only read excerpts) and I am having an excessively difficult time finding the actual policies, other than Hitler's speeches. Please don't feel I am disregarding any of what you have said; I ultimately cannot change my topic without supervisor approval and he is... out of state without any of his EE shtuff (I guess you could call it?).

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Since you are deciding to stick with Nietzsche, you'd have to be careful to form your EE question in such a way that it is historically based as opposed to philosophically. If you were to focus on that particular event of his sister changing his notes, you'd then need sufficient evidence to back up your EE.

Also, you'd be talking about the alteration of his notes...but in relation to what? You also mentioned his sister's relationships...is there a correlation between the alteration of the notes and his sister's relationships? If this is what you're aiming for, then your EE explicitly needs to state it. And then perhaps it might be more of a history RQ as opposed to a philosophy one.

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I still recommend you to start the whole process anew (with perhaps the exception of general research). You need to go through a similar process as I outlined above to end up with a good history research question. Choose an event, and, to make it simple, look at causes or consequences. This is not saying you cannot relate it to Nietzsche, though, and I am very aware that having to abandon a lot of research is no fun, as I had to do that myself. The thing is, particularly in essay-writing, sometimes you need to sacrifice something you really like in order to do your work even better. As Faulkner once said: 'In writing, you must kill all your darlings.' I believe you're currently facing such an issue. If this is true, you need to remove all the emotions, and assess everything from a very objective point of view: What will work best within the history subject? Remember that it can't just fit into any history there is, it needs to conform to the requirements set by the IBO. That's partly why I suggested that you read the EE guide, as it'll tell you exactly what is needed in a history EE. The pinned threads in this sub-forum will also be very helpful to understand what you should and should not do in order to do well. In the thread Extended Essay for Dummies - READ THIS BEFORE POSTING!, it is written 'Even if you fall in love with a topic that's listed in the EE guide, avoid it.' This is also valid for something that does not fit into a subject perfectly.

When it comes to score very well if you're able to pull it off, I believe that is true - but it'll also be very hard, considering the topic you've envisioned. You should not discuss the philosophy of Nietzsche, but something with historical significance relating to Nietzsche. The fact that the sister altered his notes and published them could be something of significance if you develop it further. However, examining the relationship between her and Nietzsche would still not be history in the IB context. Instead, it would probably fit more within psychology or a similar subject. A RQ similar to 'To what extent did the relationship between Nietzsche and his sister lead to the latter's alteration of Nietzsche's notes?' could be doable, but again, you could very easily transform that essay to something which is not a history EE. It is a very fine balancing act that you must be able to master. In this example, you would at least look at causes and consequences, which history is, in simple terms, about. If your EE can be interpreted as anything but a history essay, you will not do well at all.

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