GCSE/IB History: International Relations, 1929-39

World History teaching resources for the high school classroom: lesson plans, worksheets, quizzes and simulation games for KS3, IGCSE, IB and A-Level teachers.

Sourcework Assignment Pack
A comprehensive pack of sources and questions in the style of GCSE/IGCSE examinations, designed to be printed off at the beginning of the unit and used as homework exercises over the course of several weeks.

Communism and Fascism
This worksheet can be completed at any point during this unit. It provides students with a useful understanding of the differences between communism and fascism at just the point that these two ideologies start to get mentioned frequently.

Japan and Italy: The Manchurian and Abyssinian Crises

Cover Sheet
The other worksheets in this short unit can be collated together as a printable pack if desired. This cover sheet establishes the relevance of the topic.

PowerPoint Starter
The horrifying human impact of the League's failure in Manchuria in particular is highlighted in this disturbing slideshow. I only use this at IB level. Please reach your own judgement as to whether it is appropriate for your own students.

Roleplay: The Manchurian Crisis | Rolecards
This roleplay exercise is a great way to get students thinking about the possible courses of action open to the League. Students are given an essential briefing about the Manchurian Dispute, and are then organised into five groups representing different countries. Each country is given a role card outlining what course of action they favour, and oppose, and prepare their speeches. They then break into sub-teams to debate the issues and reach a verdict on how the League should react, before watching a video clip which tells them what actually happened.

Cartoon Analysis: Manchuria and Abyssinia [interactive]
Students consolidate their knowledge by analysing a series of political cartoons relating to the Manchurian and Abyssinian Crises.

The Abyssinian Crisis
Students are presented with a detailed breakdown of the crisis and watch several video clips to help them form judgements. A cartoon analysis exercise then follows.

Visual Essay-Writing Exercise: The Manchurian and Abyssinian Crises | Manchuria Cartoons | Abyssinia Cartoons
Break the class into two groups. One will focus on the first crisis, one on the second. They should then construct an essay about the causes, course and consequences of their allocated crisis using the cartoons about Manchuria or Abyssinia as appropriate. Here are some sample outcomes from my own students:

Conclusions: How similar were the Manchurian and Abyssinian Crises? | Teacher Model Answers
Students are provided with a writing frame which helps them compare and contrast the causes, course and consequences of the two crises.

Germany, Britain and France: Appeasement


Cover Sheet
The other worksheets in this short unit can be collated together as a printable pack if desired. This cover sheet establishes the relevance of the topic.


The Historiography of World War Two: Was Hitler a Gambler, or a Planner, in Foreign Affairs?
The AJP Taylor debate is explained here clearly, with discussion points attached and reference made to other historians who have contributed to the debate. I use this at IB level rather than IGCSE, although it could be a good extension activity for more able IGCSE students.


Overview of Hitler's Foreign Policy
A topological map and a note-taking framework that should be used in conjunction with textbooks and / or videos.

4. Why Appeasement? Diamond9 Quiz
A 15-question factual test designed to be used after students have watched the classic documentary "Why Appeasement?".
5. Decision-Making Simulation: Hitler's Foreign Policy [interactive]
A major decision making game with three associated worksheets designed to get students thinking about Hitler's main policies and actions 1933-39.
Wall Street Crash - GCSE History Simulation

Detailed Analysis of Hitler's Foreign Policy`
A thorough breakdown of Hitler's policies between 1933-39, broken up with discussion points and questions. I produced this after I felt that the textbooks did not cover the subject sufficiently clearly. This worksheet can be used to accompany the pack.


The Nazi-Soviet Pact
Why did the communists and the Nazis become allies?

8. Cartoon Analysis: Hitler's Foreign Policy [interactive]
Students consolidate their knowledge by analysing a series of political cartoons relating to the Manchurian and Abyssinian Crises.
9. Sourcework Starter Exercise: The Mystery of the Crying Woman
A great 10 minute exercise in which students analyse the meaning of a famous photograph and realise that propaganda is not just the preserve of dictatorships...

Diagram Task: Events in the 1930s
This task can be attempted at any point during this part of the unit, and would be an ideal homework activity. Students produce a series of diagrams illustrating the changing shape of international relations during the 1930s through the assistance of a detailed timeline.

11. Causes of World War Two, 1919-39: An Google Earth flyover [interactive]
Designed as an alternative to the above worksheet. A Google Earth tour, complete with a worksheet, designed to teach students about the main events, but also to encourage them to reflect on the shifting pattern of international alliances. [note: needs Google Earth to be installed!]

Conclusion: What Caused World War Two?


WHAT Caused World War Two? - Flowchart Task
Students are presented with a skeleton flowchart outlining 6 main causes of World War Two. Their job is to connect the factors together meaningfully and then translate this into a written piece.


WHO Caused World War Two? - Debate Task
The class is divided into various groups, each of which has the task of producing prosecution questions against one country, and defence replies for another. A thorough way of rounding off the unit and looking at the evidence from a fresh perspective.


Structured Questions for IGCSE
Provide students with this detailed list of possible questions to revise from as a homework, then set one of them as a practice question in timed conditions.


Essay Task on the Origins of World War Two - IB / A-Level
A more advanced question for students beyond GCSE.



What Caused World War Two? [interactive]
An interactive guide which will also develop essay writing skills


"Who Am I?" Challenge - International Relations in the 1930s
Each team will be presented with a clue about a key historical figure. They get 50 points if they guess it correctly. If they wish to 'pass', they get further (easier) clues but the points available steadily decline. An incorrect guess at any point means they get zero points for that round. You can play as many rounds as you wish. It's a great way to revise!

1. "Fling the Teacher" Quizzes
a. International Relations in the 1930's
b. International Relations 1919-39
2. "Hot Potatoes" Self-Marking Quizzes
a. Causes of WW2


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