Unit 7 Primary Source Assignment
Materials | Staking a Historical Claim(PDF)
What is happening in this film? What does it tell you about the time and place that it depicts? What more do you want to know about the setting and context? What have you learned previously about Hitler and Nazi Germany? What perspective does this film give you on Hitler and his supporters? What questions do you have? And finally: How and why do you think Hitler was able to become so popular in Germany?
Related | In the article “Hitler Exhibition Explores a Wider Circle of Guilt,” Michael Slackman discusses an exhibition at the German Historical Museum in Berlin that focuses on the society that gave rise to Hitler:
Questions | For discussion and reading comprehension:
- What does it mean that the exhibition is “intentionally prosaic”? Why was it designed that way?
- What is the message of the exhibition? Is this a new way for you to think about Hitler and pre-World War II Germany?
- Why does the curator of the exhibition think that Germans today need to hear this particular story about Hitler and the Germans who supported him? Do you think the message of this exhibition could be valuable for people in your community? Why or why not?
- Why does Hans-Ulrich Thamer believe that extremists need to be isolated from society? Do you agree? Why or why not?
- Klaus Peter Triebel says, “Our teachers in the past were integrated in that system.” What system is he talking about? What role does education play in how we remember history? Why does it matter how teachers tell the story of Hitler?
Activity | “Hitler did not corral the Germans as much as the Germans elevated Hitler” and “The Germans were the first victims of Hitler.” These statements are competing historical claims about the German people’s responsibility in promoting the rise of Hitler. Your task is to examine historical evidence and then make historical claims supported by that evidence.
You will examine primary source evidence in the form of videos, images, artifacts and historical newspaper articles. Using the evidence that is collected, you will then make their own historical claims about the extent to which the German people were responsible for the rise of Hitler.
On Friday, March 23, 2018, the class will come together to engage in a round-table session at which all groups of historians will present their claims and supporting evidence and engage in discussion about the significance of their findings for contemporary society.
Here are some links to collect evidence and develop a claim:
- The 1934 New York Times front-page article “Hitler Endorsed by 9 to 1 in Poll on His Dictatorship, But Opposition is Doubled” and other related historical Times articles (accessible to home-delivery subscribers on NYTimes.com and via subscription to the Proquest database)
- The slide show of artifacts in the exhibition
- About.com’s collection of photographs of Hitler
- Spiegel Online’s graph of German election results from 1928 to 1933
- The German Propaganda Archive’s collection of pre-1933 Nazi propaganda and photographs of children at play
Use the Staking a Historical Claim handout (PDF) to collect primary source evidence and formulate a historical claim and to generate further ideas and questions.
All Things Considered.
One curator said the message was arguably more vital for Germany now than at any time in the past six decades, as rising nationalism, more open hostility to immigrants and a generational disconnect from the events of the Nazi era have older Germans concerned about repeating the past.