Implementation of ‘German Empires: War, Leadership and Propaganda’ (SOI-RO-222)

  1.  Why did I choose this learning scenario?

I chose this scenario because I saw it as a good opportunity to consolidate the information about the Second World War and to update the information about the First World War, handed over a few months before. The scenario considers the formation of competencies, such as: expressing opinions in the language appropriate to history, formulating arguments about the First and Second World Wars, recognizing and accepting multiple perspectives on historical facts and processes, building statements based on the sources and the formulation of conclusions relative to the historical sources offered for analysis, and framing an event or a series of events in a chronological context. The reason for choosing this LS is the creator’s intention to help us cope with the current, unexpected, hard times we have been going through, due to COVID-19 pandemic.

  • Class profile and type of teaching/learning

The theme “World War II” is part of a broader field of content entitled “International Relations” and is intended for study in the tenth grade, the second year of high school, where students are aged 16-17. The proposed topic was covered in a week, when students have three hours of history, a total of 120 minutes, given that in the online environment, the time is 40 minutes.

  • Context of Implementation

The purpose of choosing the topic is also related to the principle “Learning history through research”, a teaching strategy used in various learning contexts, which supports students to use a variety of resources, use images, photos from Europeana collections, first-hand sources about personalities of the two world conflagrations. The training of skills related to the analysis of these types of sources is an important step in the activity of history teachers, because the value of sources is high and their interpretation may be different. An important concept underlying the development of curricula, but also teaching strategies, and at the same time, a reason why this scenario was chosen was that of multiperspectivity, seen as a way to select and analyze, and then use historical sources to understand the complexity of a situation.

  • Implementing the Learning Scenario

The First World War that broke out in the first half of the twentieth century is an important theme in the history curriculum of the 10th grade. Thus, students learn about the alliance system, the great battles on the main fronts, but also the consequences of the war. The interwar period is considered by many historians as a period of armistice and preparation for a new conflict. For students it is a new opportunity to discover, together with their peers, the main events that changed the course of European history for the entire twentieth century, through studying historical sources and processing images provided by the Europeana platform.

Step 1– students are divided into groups and analyze the two photos, then look for information about the personalities in the two images.

They notice that the first photo describes what the war looks like from a German perspective. The photograph shows Kaiser Wilhelm II (1859-1941), Emperor of Germany between 1888 and 1918, flanked by two of his commanders, Marshal Paul von Hindenburg (1847-1934) and General Erich von Ludendorff (1865-1937). They discuss a map placed on a table in the building of their headquarters in the Belgian city of Spa. The image portrays the three men as calm and controlled, the sages of the leaders of their troops. The fact that this photograph was in the possession of a German officer suggests that it may have been given by the leadership as propaganda in the German army.

In the second picture, the students observe the high officials of the Nazi regime in Germany in the period before the Second World War (Hitler, Goebbels who was the minister of propaganda, Goring – the commander of the Luftwaffe and Hess – Hitler’s deputy in the Nazi Party). It seems that they are attending a public meeting. The difference between the two pictures is the change of uniforms at the same time as the change of political regimes. Both photos were taken in crisis situations in Europe.

Step 2: students make short presentations, in teams about the two world wars, insisting on Germany’s actions.

First image: Kaiser, Hindenburg and Ludendorff

Second image :  Nazi Hierarchy, Hitler, Goering, Goebbels, Hess

Step 3: Students analyze the evolution of Germany in the two world wars. Students work in teams trying to answer the following questions:

  1. How close in time are the moments when these events happened?
  2. How similar are these events to each other?
  3. Is one the cause or the consequence of the other?

Step 4: Students discuss the great events of the two conflagrations and thus discover, using the method of the Venn Euler Chart, what are the similarities and differences between the two German empires during the First and Second World Wars, respectively. Students noticed that the people in both pictures are dressed in military uniform, in both pictures are the leaders of Germany; both regimes emerged and developed in a special atmosphere for Germany; after the war, in both regimes, serious economic and social difficulties were registered in Germany; there was no substantial democratic tradition in Germany.

Venn Euler Chart created by students

Conclusions

At the end of the activity students were able to understand some important facts about the two World Wars. The two World Wars were 21 years apart, the First taking place between 1914-1918, and the Second between 1939-1945. The two World Wars are two similar moments in history, both representing a world-wide military conflict, a deadly conflict that has caused major changes in history and resulted in millions of casualties and injuries. The two wars profoundly affected the political, social and cultural order of the whole world, even of the areas not directly involved in the conflagration. New states have appeared on the political map of the world, old ones have disappeared or radically changed their borders. World War II is one of the consequences of World War I. Among the causes of World War were the rise of nationalism, militarism and the existence of many unresolved territorial issues after the end of World War I, but also resentments following the defeat of certain states in World War I and the signing of the Peace of Versailles.

Feedback

Students had to answer the following questions: “Have you encountered difficulties in carrying out the tasks? Was this a useful exercise in deepening and understanding the two World Wars?”

Most of the students answered that they did not encounter difficulties in completing the research and analysis task. The exercise was considered useful to deepen their understanding of the First and Second World War because it highlights the years between wars, consequences, similarities, differences, facts that emphasize the understanding of wars.

Did you find this story of implementation interesting? Why don’t you read about the related learning scenario:

German Empires: War, Leadership, and Propaganda created by April D. Capili

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Do you want to discover more stories of implementation? Click here.

CC BY 4.0: the featured image used to illustrate this article has been found on Europeana and has been provided by the Wellcome Collection.

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