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Historiographical Overview: This information sheet outlines the essential historiographical debate - namely, the Fischer Thesis, which suggested that both World Wars were essentially caused by the same consistent factor - namely, German aggression. The task of students will be to decide how far they agree with this idea.
Research Template: Students are then presented with a research template which has NINE key causes of each World War listed within it. "Divide these causes between the members of the group.Research your allocated factor(s) with relation to your particular war. Produce a one-slide presentation which will summarise your findings for the rest of the class".
Overview of the procedure: This handout explains how the group working on World War One will present their findings first, and that this will be followed by a whole-class exercise linking the factors together and some historiography work (below). The same format is repeated with relation to World War Two.
Introductory video clip: AJP Taylor outlines the "Fischer Controversy"
With both wars now considered separately, we are in a position to judge whether the "Fischer Thesis" (that both wars can primarily be explained through reference to a consistently aggressive German foreign policy) is accurate.
Main Task: Was Hitler's foreign policy traditional, or unprecedented?
In this activity students use extracts from the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk, an Interview with Hitler, Mein Kampf and the September Programme to decide where they stand in regard to the Fischer controversy.
Model Essay by RJ Tarr (note: teacher password required)
At this point, students should return to their original research template to complete the final column, which asks them to make some observations about whether the various factors for each war are areas of comparison and contrast. This can then be used as the basis for an essay on the causes of either war, or an essay comparing them both. The model essay provided here was written by the author of this website in timed conditions and could be given to students for extra stimulus after they have finished their own work.
Events (100 years ago today): 1917 - World War I: The U.S. ambassador Walter Hines Page to the United Kingdom is given the Zimmermann Telegram, in which Germany pledges to ensure the return of New Mexico, Texas, and Arizona to Mexico if Mexico declares war on the United States.
Births (250 years ago today): 1767 - Rama II of Siam (d. 1824)
Births (50 years ago today): 1967 - Brian Schmidt, Australian astrophysicist and academic, Nobel Prize laureate
Commemorations:Estonia National Day
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Was life good or bad in Victorian Britain? A study through paintings
Anarchism: Bakunins Catechism of a Revolutionary
Summary Sheet: Hegel, Marx and Lenin compared and contrasted
Factual Test on the issues covered so far (20 questions)
Teacher-led online lecture : A brief history of political ideology from the Enlightenment to the modern day!
Enlightenment Philosophy: Philosophers, Revolutionaries and the Declaration of the Rights of Man
Teacher-led online lecture : A brief history of political ideology from the Middle Ages to the Enlightenment!
Left-wing and Right Wing: Which are you?
What is Politics? Why are so many people not interested in it and why is this worrying?
Communism and Fascism: Whats the difference?
Design your ideal state
LBJ and the Great Society
Hexagons Activity: Impact of the Industrial Revolution
Sourcework Exercise: The Sharpeville Massacre Teacher model answers
50 Essential Songs for the History Classroom