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GCSE Revision: John D Clare is a must visit

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

John D Clare’s site is a gold mine for GCSE revision. As well as the information on the site there are excellent links as well.

Revising the Cold War? Visit CNN

A great revision tool from CNN.

Life in Shatila

The Shatila refugee camp was established in Lebanon to temporarily house Palestinians who had fled from what became Israel during the 1948-49 war. The refugees have never been able to return. This slideshow from the BBC looks at life within the camp and makes reference to the massacre that took place here during the Israeli invasion of 1982.

Pole who saved ghetto Jews dies

Monday, May 12, 2008

The death of a Polish woman who almost certainly saved the lives of 2,500 Jewish children during World War II has been announced.  Read the full story here.

Key events in the Arab-Israeli conflict: Watch the videos here

Friday, May 09, 2008

Another great resource from the BBC that will aid revision on the Arab-Israeli conflict. Watch them here.

Israelis celebrate 60 years of statehood

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Interesting stories on the anniversary of the founding of the state of Israel here...

...and an overview of the conflict here

8th May 1984 USSR pulls out of Los Angeles Olympics

In retaliation for the USA’s boycott of the 1980 Moscow Games the Soviet Union announced on 8th May 1984 that they would not send a team to Los Angeles. Both sides traded accusations of using sport for political purposes. The entire episode should be seen in the context of the renewed tension between the Superpowers during the early 1980s, the strategy of the Reagan administration and the paralysis of the Soviet leadership brought about by the entrenched gerontocracy that ruled until the rise to power of Gorbachev in 1985.

Read more on the Soviet announcement here

The Imperial War Museum’s Holocaust Education Fellowship - well worth an application

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

‘Professional development at its very best’
Michael Riley, Senior Lecturer in History Education, Bath Spa University

The Imperial War Museum seeks to provide the
most ambitious programme of professional development available to educators in the United Kingdom

A free of charge and all-expenses paid programme of
seminars and study visits in London, Jerusalem, Lithuania and Poland

Further details can be found at www.iwm.org.uk/holocaust/education

read more...»

The Marxist interpretation of history: A brief introduction

Saturday, April 26, 2008

A quick look at a school of history that sees past events in a particular way. This may be useful for those wanting to study history at university.

Pope tells of youth under Nazis

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Pope Benedict XVI has spoken out for the first time about growing up under the “monster” of Nazism.

Read about what he had to say here

Titanic doomed by fire raging below decks, says new theory

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

There is yet another theory on what may have hastened the demise of the Titanic. Read about it here and see whether you agree.

And take a look at the report that states that there were attempts to block a 1947 radio play about the sinking.

AJP Taylor: A brief overview

Monday, April 14, 2008

Johnny Isaac today gave our Oxbridge History group an excellent overview of AJP Taylor’s work and significance as an historian. I’ve uploaded his presentation below.

Many thanks Johnny.

View the presentation here.

read more...»

Politics and sport: Other times when controversy hit the Olympics

Monday, April 07, 2008

Yesterday, a former Blue Peter presenter carrying the Olympic torch had to wrestle for control of it with a man wearing a wolly hat who was protesting at Chinese actions in Tibet. Fire extinguishers and super soakers were also used by protestors in attempts to douse the Olympic flame. All good, traditional, British stuff. Yet using the Olympics to try and make political points is nothing new.

read more...»

40 years ago

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Another important anniversary occurred this week as it is 40 years since the assassination of Dr Martin Luther King

read more...»

April 2nd 1982: Argentina invades the Falkland Islands

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Today is the 26th anniversary of the invasion of the Falkland Islands in the South Atlantic by Argentinian forces.

read more...»

Free lunchtime lectures at the National Army Museum

Sunday, March 30, 2008

The National Army Museum holds free lectures on a military theme every Thursday. School holidays are a perfect time to go along and learn something outside of the curriculum. The next lecture, entitled ‘Six VCs before breakfast’ and delivered by Peter Doyle, tells the story of the Gallipoli Campaign of 1915. It’ll be interesting to hear whether Doyle takes the traditional ‘cock-up’ line about the landings and ensuing fighting between British, ANZAC, French and Turkish forces.

‘Killing Fields’ journalist dies

A Cambodian-born US journalist whose enslavement and escape from the Khmer Rouge became the subject of the famous film, The Killing Fields, has died.

Read the full story here:

Andrew Chater’s ‘Timelines’

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

This is a superb resource that enables pupils to get an overview of a thousand years of British history.

Russia 1900 - 1924 - Revision Glossary

Monday, March 17, 2008


Here is a new resource that will help with student revision of the history of Russia between 1900 - 1924 (GCSE History)

read more...»

Cold War Revision Glossary


Here is a new resource that will help with student revision of the Cold War for GCSE History

read more...»

Quiz - What was life like in Tsarist Russia?

Here is a revision quiz for GCSE History students on life in Tsarist Russia.

France’s last First World War veteran is laid to rest

The body of Lazare Ponticelli, until last week the last surviving French veteran of the Great War, was laid to rest today with full military honours.

read more...»

Why did the PLO and Israel sign a Peace Accord in 1995?

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Many thanks to my GCSE set for coming up with this structure for a possible GCSE question:

Here they come up with five reasons for the Peace Accord:

read more...»

Key term revision glossary on the Arab-Israeli Conflict

Monday, March 10, 2008


Here is a new resource that will help with student revision of the Arab-Israeli conflict for GCSE History

read more...»

Maritime disaster, wartime astrologers and Gary Lineker

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Today’s Independent has a host of stories that will be of interest to the historian:

read more...»

Colonel Bob Stewart recalls his experiences in Bosnia

Monday, March 03, 2008

Colonel Bob Stewart visited Hampton School this lunctime to deliver a fascinating talk about his time as commander of the 1st Battalion The Cheshire Regiment in Bosnia during the brutal conflict there in the early 1990s.

read more...»

The Bethnal Green Tube tragedy

Sunday, March 02, 2008

Tomorrow marks the 65th anniversary of the Bethnal Green tube tragedy in which 173 people perished - a little known disaster that hit London in 1943. The BBC story sets out how it happened and also the swift cover up that aimed to reduce any impact on wartime morale.


A pivotal opportunity?

Saturday, March 01, 2008

David Kennedy, Professor of History at Stanford University, is to give a lecture at the LSE on the importance of the year 1945.  The event is free, and a great chance for those in the London area to hear from such an eminent historian.

read more...»

Gavin Mortimer reveals the historical writer’s craft

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Gavin Mortimer, the writer of bestselling books, visited our school last week and gave our Historians an insight into the life of the historical author. Gavin, who has published books on topics as diverse as the SAS, sporting heroes of the Great War and the race to be the first female to swim the channel, revealed the painstaking process behind the researching and writing of his tomes. For his book on the SAS he had to go through a lengthy and delicate approval process before the Regiment would give him permission to talk to their veterans. After this hurdle was negotiated it was a case of flying all over the world to interview former soldiers – many of whom had not told their story since the end of the Second World War.

read more...»

Have politicians always ruined the work of soldiers? The Oxbridge Group write up

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Many thanks to Gareth Thomas for writing this up…

This week’s session mainly focussed on the effect the involvement of politicians had on peace treaties. The main questions asked were:

What makes a lasting peace treaty?
Why have so many treaties in the past failed?
Is the failure of a peace treaty due to poor planning on behalf of the main players involved, i.e. politicians?
Why do politicians tend to ‘screw up’ when it comes to peace treaties?

The session started with a detailed look at Iraq. The group was dissolved into pairs whereupon each pair would compare/contrast/discuss, and produced five reasons why the current situation in Iraq can be classed as a failure.

read more...»

Studying the Rwandan genocide: Educational resources from SURF

SURF, a charity that helps survivors of the genocide in Rwanda, has produced a series of educational resources that are available on their website. The resources, which include lesson plans, should prove useful to those who teach about this terrible tragedy.


Why was Israel able to defeat its enemies in the wars of 1948-49, 1956, and 1967?

Monday, February 25, 2008

Why was Israel able to defeat its enemies in the wars of 1948-49, 1956, and 1967?

This is an example of a decent GCSE answer for the Arab-Israeli paper.

There are many reasons why Israel was able to defeat its Arab enemies in the three wars between 1948 and 1967. Some of these factors were a result of the Israelis themselves, but equally, there were reasons that were caused by Arab weaknesses or actions. Likewise, there were some reasons that applied to each of the three wars, and some that were specific to one or two of them. In order to fully answer the question, it is necessary to look at all of these reasons.

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Have politicians always destroyed the work of soldiers?

This morning we start our extra sessions for students in our school who are thinking about studying History at university. The classes are designed to broaden out pupils’ historical knowledge, understanding, their awareness of history as a discipline and to enable them to explore their own interests beyond the syllabus that we teach.

To start we’re going to look at how, over the last couple of hundred years, politicians have formalised the work of soldiers. After each major war there is nearly always a political settlement, in the form of a treaty. The question for our pupils is how far the politicians have made a settlement that has done justice to the work that the soldiers have done. Prior to the session we’ve asked the participants to research the following treaties:

Treaty of Utrecht, 1713
Treaty of Paris, 1763
Congress of Vienna, 1816
Treaty of Paris 1856
Treaty of Vereeniging, 1902
Treaty of Versailles, 1919
Yalta and Potsdam Conferences, 1945
The situation in Iraq today

read more...»

Ping Pong Diplomacy

Friday, February 22, 2008

It was thirty-five years ago today that President Nixon visited China. Feeling overstretched by commitment in Vietnam and eager to create tension between rival Communist powers Nixon’s visit was part of the period of detente between the Superpowers.

read more...»

A study day at The National Army Museum: Great War technology Part One

On Tuesday our school visited The National Army Museum for a study day. After looking around the excellent galleries (our students particularly liked the exhibition looking at the experience of 16 Air Assault Brigade in Helmand Province. We had two lectures from the education staff. Below is the first part of a write up of the notes that I made.

read more...»

The day that Malcolm X died

Today is the anniversary of the assassination of Malcolm X in the Audubon Ballroom, New York.

Take a look at the BBC’s ‘On This Day’ segment:


Taxpayers’ money well spent for a change

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

There have been plenty of people in the public eye recently who seem to have misused our hard earned money. Similarly, the BBC has had a rough time of late over fake phone-ins, dodgy editing and the rest. However, it maybe worth highlighting, though of not much consolation to non-historians, that the Corporation’s website has some quite excellent content that will help history students of whatever level. For once I think that our money has been wisely invested. Take a look for yourself:

Yet Another Balkans Crisis?

Yesterday Kosovo’s parliament declared unanimously declared itself to be independent from Serbia.

Just about immediately Serbia and her close supporter, Russia, made their protests as riot police faced protesters in Belgrade and grenades were thrown in the ethnically Serb town of Mitrovica in Kosovo.

Today Serbia withdrew her ambassador to the USA, stating that the country had violated international law by recognising Kosovo.

Amongst EU nations opinion has been divided with Spain not recognising the new state, in a directly opposite action to that taken by France, Germany and the UK.

All this not only brings back memories of the conflict in the late 1990s but also to the wider unrest in the region that has bedevilled wider European relations for upwards of 150 years. Even without going back to the strife prior to the Nineteenth Century there is enough to keep historians occupied. The crises of 1875-78, 1886, 1912-13 and, of course, 1914 all had international repercussions. It can only be hoped that both local and regional tensions will ease before more blood is spilt in a most contentious corner of our continent.


The Top Ten Greatest Britons

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Not to be outdone by tutor2U’s excellent Politics blog here is a challenge you could set for your History students.  The task is to create a list of the Top Ten Greatest Britons. We’ll post an initial list and then will change it to reflect any comments that we receive. Here’s our Top Ten Greatest Britons:

read more...»

GCSE History: Can you name the key figures in the Arab-Israeli conflict?

Friday, February 15, 2008

Have a go at putting names to faces:


Guess the Cold Warrior

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Have a go at this at home or in the classroom


Dear Historian, I’ve got a problem - can the past help me? From Hillary, USA

Wednesday, February 13, 2008


Dear Historian, I’ve got a problem - can the past help me?

I’m a politician fighting a lengthy, costly and very close fought election in the USA. The thing is that, well, I was ahead and doing really well but now it looks like things are slipping away. Can history give me any comfort?


read more...»

Cold War links

Monday, February 11, 2008

For anyone studying or teaching the Cold War the links below should help.

Useful timelines and quizzes

A good general history site and links

The BBC’s minisite

CNN’s contribution made to accompany a TV series

A typically excellent offering from the National Archives

The conflict broken down into topics

Dear Historian, I’ve got a problem - can the past help me? From Rowan, Lambeth Palace

Dear Historian, I’ve got a problem - can the past help me?

I’m a religious leader, used to speaking out on issues that concern the moral and spiritual health of the country. This time, however, I’ve said something that seems to have hit a raw nerve - and many are calling for me to quit. Am I right to be feeling a bit nervous?



read more...»

The Killing Fields confession: ‘They all had to be eliminated’

11 February 2008

Kang Khek Ieu was known as ‘Cambodia’s Himmler’, a torturer who oversaw the
deaths of 17,000 people. As he prepares to go on trial, he gives a chilling
insight into the Khmer Rouge - the most detailed account yet from a top

Exclusive by Valerio Pellizzari, Phnom Penh
Monday, 11 February 2008

In the West he has been called “Cambodia’s Heinrich Himmler”; since Pol Pot
himself and his lieutenant Ta Mok cheated justice by dying, he is the most
vivid symbol of the Khmer Rouge left alive. His name is Kang Khek Ieu, but
he is better known by his nom de guerre, Duch (pronounced “Doik”). This
spring, 28 years after fleeing Cambodia ahead of the Vietnamese army, his
trial for mass murder may finally get under way.


read more...»

Conversations with History: Niall Ferguson

Niall Ferguson answers questions about his recent book and TV series ‘War of the Worlds’ on You Tube.

read more...»

8th February 1983: Ariel Sharon quits after Sabra and Shatila massacres

Friday, February 08, 2008

The June 6th 1982 invasion of Lebanon (codenamed Operation Peace of the Galilee) by Israeli forces was ordered in direct reponse to the attempted assassination of the Israeli ambassador to the UK, Shlomo Argov by the Abu Nidal Organisation (Palestinian ‘terrorist’, a founder of Fatah who had split from Yasser Arafat and the PLO). Lebanon had, after the 1948-49 conflict become the home to around 100,000 Palestinian refugees who had fled from their homes in present day Israel. By the early 1980s this number had grown to about 300,000, with the PLO establishing their own area of control in southern Lebanon. It was this influence that the Israelis sought to end - with the actions of the Abu Nidal Organisation being used as a convenient excuse.

read more...»

The Jena Six brings back memories of the past

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

A judicial system allegedly biased against people simply because they are black. White supremacists calling for African-Americans to be lynched. Mass demonstrations led by prominent black leaders. But all this has been taking place over the past year in America’s Deep South. Unbelievable in the year that a black candidate has, for the first time, a realistic chance of reaching the White House? Or is all this a huge over reaction to a minor event? Read the stories and take a view.


We the undersigned petition the Prime Minister to…

Monday, February 04, 2008

Here’s your opportunity to join the 389,460 others who have signed the online petition calling on the PM to:

‘to create a new public holiday, the National Remembrance Holiday to commemorate The Fallen and our Nation, with the holiday falling on the second Monday in November each year, the day after Remembrance Sunday.’

Follow the link to add your name:


History’s Top Five Love Affairs make Sarkozy and Bruni look second rate

Forget the love affair between French President Nicolas Sarkozy and his new bride Carla Bruni. (http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/europe/7226646.stm). As usual history provides us with copious comparisons that outshine what the media think is unique. So, in this entry, we list five matches that make the Sarkozy-Bruni partnership seem distinctly second-rate.

Antony and Cleopatra
The last Pharaoh of Egypt and the dashing Roman general

Abelard and Heloise
A monk and a nun whose love letters became famous

Shah Jahan and Mumtaz Mahal
Grieving emperor who built the Taj Mahal for his late wife

Nelson and Lady Hamilton
The Admiral and his ill-fated beauty

Napoleon and Josephine
The tempestuous relationship that enthralled a continent

Think the 2008 Presidential race is interesting? Check out the controversy over the 1876 election!

It looks like the Presidential election of 2008 is going to be a close run thing if the nomination process is anything to go by. Go back eight years to the controversy over GWB’s win and you get a taste of what might be coming. Take a look even further back, to 1877, and you find an ever stranger outcome to the election of 1876. The contest, between Samuel J Tilden (who won the popular vote) and Rutherford B Hayes stood at 184 electoral college votes to Tilden, with Hayes on 165. A further 20 electoral votes were in dispute, with each candidate claiming to have won in the states of Florida, Louisiana and South Carolina. Allegations of electoral fraud were rife with many issues focusing on the design of the voting paper itself (remind you of anything GWB?). In some states illiterate voters were helped to make choice by symbols depicting each party. However, some Democratic ballots were found to have the Republican symbol on them (a picture of Abraham Lincoln) thereby fooling those who couldn’t read into marking the wrong box.

The controversy was settled by an informal deal that was to have repercussions for the African-American population. Hayes was given the White House on the understanding that he would remove federal troops from the southern states – where they had been ever since the Civil War. Without these soldiers Democrats were free to seize back control of state governments and end the period of Reconstruction. Blacks were pushed from any position of political influence and barred from voting by Grandfather Clauses and Poll Taxes. It would take nearly ninety years for the damage to be undone.

Take a look at the campaign to have Tilden proclaimed as the ‘Real 19th President’.
See also:

UK government acts on hoax e-mail alleging the banning of Holocaust education in schools

This is an interesting story run by the BBC today that has been doing the rounds for months. Rumours have been spreading around the world through discussion boards, email and chat rooms alleging that the government is about to ban Holocaust education in schools for fear of offending Muslims. It is not. Holocaust education remains compulsory for all schools in England.


Discovering the Holocaust: http://www.blechner.com/

Friday, February 01, 2008

Studying the Holocaust can be overwhelming. Quite apart from the emotional impact of the terrible events it is the scale of the tragedy in terms of numbers of lives, the enormity of the loss, the complexity of the narrative, the breadth of the geography, the numbing myriad of perpetrator motivation and so on that makes the events so difficult to fathom. Nevertheless, I think that there are ways of understanding both the enormity of the events whilst still maintaining a connection with the human story.

As part of the Imperial War Museum’s Holocaust Education Fellowship (something that I would wholeheartedly recommend to all teachers) I’m trying to produce what I pompously call an ‘online exhibition builder’ that will, I hope, eventually be available on the IWM’s website. The important part, however, is that the source material that I am fortunate to be using comes from the unqiue Blechner archive. Essentially the archive consists of around 250 letters and documents that all tell the story of one family - a mother, father and four sons - and what happens to them during the Holocaust. Whilst the letters certainly tell the story of fear, separation, loss, desperation and hope they also hint at the overall narrative. The stories contained within the archive include depictions of deportation, transports, refugees, concentration camps, murder and escape. I would recommend a visit to the website, compiled by Anthony Blechner, that tells the tale of one family caught up in the unique tragedy…

Please visit http://www.blechner.com/

For information on the IWM’s Holocaust Education Fellowship visit http://london.iwm.org.uk/upload/pdf/FellowshipHolocaustEducation2007v1.pdf

Is Maggie history?

Tonight Baroness Thatcher was awarded with a lifetime achievement award (whatever that means) by David Cameron at the Morgan Stanley Great Briton Awards.  Read the story here: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/7220424.stm

But as more and more A Level History courses now include topics on Thatcher’s Britain it might be worth considering at what point currents affairs become history. Are we too close to events to be able to unravel Thatcher’s legacy both domestically and internationally?

read more...»

Light a virtual candle for Holocaust Memorial Day

Monday, January 28, 2008

January 27th is the anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz. It is also day when the Holocaust is remembered in the UK and around the world. The Holocaust Memorial Day Trust, responsible for the commemoration of Holocaust Memorial Day in this country, runs events and provides advice to schools and local community groups who wish to have their own commemoration.

So, even if your school is not holding an event you can still show your support for Holocaust Memorial Day 08 by visiting the Trust’s website and lighting a virtual candle.


Unhappy bobbies

Apparently the police are incensed that teachers have got a bigger pay rise than they have - a whopping 2.45%.

Whilst the discontent might show itself in the coming weeks in the shape of a few grumpy coppers it will be nothing in comparison to what happened in 1918-19 when the police went on strike. The walk out was in protest at poor wages and other conditions…and the action of the bobbies caught the government off guard. Within twenty four hours 12,000 men - just about the entire Met Police at the time - were on strike.

With troops patrolling the streets the government, under Lloyd George, frantically searched for a solution and eventually caved in. Will Gordon Brown face a similar situation in eighty years on?

It was sixty five years ago today…(14 Jan)

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

...that US President Franklin D Roosevelt met British Prime Minister Winston Churchill at a wartime conference in Casablanca. The ten day meeting in French Morocco, which was codenamed SYMBOL, most significantly ended with an agreement entitled the ‘Casablanca Declaration’. This committed the Allies to settle for nothing less than the unconditional surrender of the Axis forces. In setting out the declaration to the American people FDR told them:

‘...that the only terms on which we shall deal with an Axis government or any Axis factions are the terms proclaimed at Casablanca: “Unconditional Surrender.” In our uncompromising policy we mean no harm to the common people of the Axis nations. But we do mean to impose punishment and retribution in full upon their guilty, barbaric leaders… ‘

The officials at the conference had several dilemmas to sort out. The key questions centred on what kind of split of forces between the Far East / Pacific and Europe / North Africa and where, if at all, a second front should be opened. Essentially, and for possibly for the last time, the British held sway. The American delegation found themselves agreeing to devote their major efforts to the European theatre although without launching a major invasion of north-west Europe in 1943.

Learn more:


Colossus reborn

I read in the news today that a computer capable of working through 63 million calculations per second has been unveiled in Edinburgh. The machine will, according to the report, help scientists ‘develop life-saving drugs and model climate change and epidemic patterns.’

Getting machines tackle highly complex problems is nothing new. During the Second World War the British created ‘Colossus’ - a huge calculating device that was aimed at cracking the German’s ‘Fish’ ciphers. Whilst the use of Colossus was most famously associated with Alan Turing other pioneers of this kind include Charles Babbage, Konrad Zuse and John von Neumann.

Learn more here:


Welcome to the History Blog

Monday, January 14, 2008

Welcome to the new History blog.

The idea behind the blog is to both widen and deepen the historical understanding of GCSE and A Level historians. The blog will feature a mixture of entries on historical events, historians and issues that might help with exams, coursework or just understanding history for its own sake. I hope it proves to be useful…

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