Please fill in the following form to contact the author, Russel Tarr (@russeltarr)
ActiveHistory provides entertaining, educational award-winning interactive simulations, decision-making games, self-marking quizzes, high-quality worksheets and detailed lesson plans for teachers and students.
View the top 50 activities here.
You can also request a free trial.
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 (200 years ago today): 1818 - The case of Ashford v Thornton ends, with Abraham Thornton allowed to go free rather than face a retrial for murder, after his demand for trial by battle is upheld.
Events (100 years ago today): 1918 - Manfred von Richthofen, a.k.a. The Red Baron, shoots down his 79th and 80th victims, his final victories before his death the following day.
Events (50 years ago today): 1968 - English politician Enoch Powell makes his controversial Rivers of Blood speech.
Births (300 years ago today): 1718 - David Brainerd, American missionary (d. 1747)
Births (200 years ago today): 1818 - Heinrich Göbel, German-American mechanic and engineer (d. 1893)
Births (100 years ago today): 1918 - Kai Siegbahn, Swedish physicist and academic, Nobel Prize laureate (d. 2007)
Births (50 years ago today): 1968 - Yelena Välbe, Russian skier and manager
Deaths (100 years ago today): 1918 - Karl Ferdinand Braun, German-American physicist and academic, Nobel Prize laureate (b. 1850)
Deaths (50 years ago today): 1968 - Rudolph Dirks, German-American illustrator (b. 1877)
RSS Feed | Full week | Get Widget
In what ways, and with what results, was Germany a source of Cold War tensions between 1945 and 1962?
Model Essay: To what extent did the French Revolution deliver on its promises of Liberty, Equality, Fraternity?
Model Essay: By what methods, and with what success, did Fidel Castro try to eliminate domestic opposition?
Model Essay: Castros mastery of guerrilla warfare was the main reason why he was able to take control of Cuba. To what extent do you agree with this statement?
40+ Model History Essays by Russel Tarr
Who is your historical hero?
Outcome from the Balloon Debate: Paper People Project | More on the Paper People approach
Crime Board: Who was Jack the Ripper?
How did Cromwell rule England 1649-1658?
Levellers and Diggers: A song by Gerard Winstanley (1648)
England without a King: How should the country be governed?
Oliver Cromwells Life and Career
What sort of a man was Oliver Cromwell?
Rule of Pinochet / 1973 Chilean Coup: Dialogue Poem Starter Activity