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Teaching activity

Teaching Weimar and Nazi Germany at GCSE.

Scott Thomas

12th November 2018

Weimar and Nazi Germany is a topic which is perhaps the most popular option for schools at GCSE. To me, Germany, particularly Weimar and Nazi Germany is one of the most interesting periods which we cover as a department. I continually find that I come back to the question, how? How in the 20th Century, within living memory, can we have witnessed such horror, terror and devastation under tyrannical rule? Of course a history teacher I know this. However, Germany, for some may only be there on the GCSE course because that’s what we have always done and therefore why we should continue to teach it.

Bundesarchiv Bild 183-1982-0809-502, Nürnberg, Reichsparteitag, SA-Marsch

The reformed qualifications for GCSE History, rightly so, placed a premium on knowledge. Our students are now required to know so much more about the topics than previously, and we owe to our students to be more knowledgeable ourselves. Looking at where to start can be difficult, and actually finding the time can be harder still, but once you begin your subject knowledge will improve and this will aid your teaching and understanding of the topic.

Therefore, we have put together a list of some materials, hints and tips which you may wish to use to develop your subject knowledge:

Books :

  • Hitler by Ian Kershaw
    • A look from Hitler’s early years through to the destruction of the Third Reich.
  • The Coming of the Third Reich by Richard J Evans
    • This book explores from 1871 to 1933, and focuses on how the Nazis seized power in Germany
  • The Third Reich in Power by Richard J Evans
    • This volume looks at the Nazi Dictatorship up to the outbreak of the Second World War.
  • The Third Reich at War by Richard J Evans
    • This final volume looks at the Third Reich during the Second World War.
  • Travellers in the Third Reich: The Rise of Fascism 1919-1945 by Julia Boyd
    • A superb book written through the eyes of tourists at the time. Definitely worth a read!


A Level Texts:

Nationalism, Dictatorship and Democracy in 20th Century Europe.

Germany 1871-1990: United, divided and re-united

These two books are the Edexcel A Level provision for Germany, and cover a wide range of topics. I have always found using A Level texts as a good method for preparing for a GCSE course. It allows for good stretch and challenge for pupils when required too!

I have often found that I am pressed for time, so I make use of Audible to listen to my books whilst I cook, or drive to school and this can be some of the most useful minutes, immersed in the book whilst doing other things. A little and often also gives little examples which I can use in lessons too!

Scott Thomas

Scott is Subject Lead for History at Tutor2u, and works full time as a teacher of History. He has examined for Edexcel and holds a joint degree in History and Politics from Newcastle University

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