A2 Germany

Unit 3: D1 From Kaiser to Fuhrer

The key areas to study for this module are;

Section A General History

  • The Second Reich — society and government in Germany, c1900-19: economic expansion; political and social tensions; the impact of the First World War.
  • The democratic experiment, 1919-29: crises and survival, 1919-24; Stresemann and recovery; the ‘Golden Years’ of the Weimar Republic; Weimar culture.
  • The rise of the Nazis: origins to 1928; impact of the slump in town and country, 1928-33; growing support; coming to power.
  • Life in wartime Germany, 1939-45: opposition and conformity; persecution of the Jews and the development of the idea of the ‘Final Solution’; the efficiency of the war economy.

Section B Associated controversies

a) To what extent was Germany responsible for the outbreak of the First World War?

b) How popular and efficient was the Nazi regime in the years 1933-39?

To quote Edexcel, ‘The content focus of this option is on Germany in peace and war and the dramatic changes which afflicted the German people. In Section A candidates should be enabled to present historical explanations and assess the significance in their historical context of events, individuals, ideas, attitudes and beliefs and the ways in which they influenced behaviour and action. In Section B they will be asked to investigate historical interpretations through the analysis of presented secondary sources and the application of their own knowledge. Both parts should be seen as a coherent whole, complementary in achieving historical understanding of Germany under the Second Reich, Weimar Republic and Third Reich’.

So in a nutshell, for section A, (which Ms. Birch will teach you), one needs to be able to write substantial essays on any of the topics. There are sample and previous examination questions at the bottom of this page should to wish to know what is required of you. For section B, which I will teach, you will be required to incorporate sources into your analyses of the historical controversies.

1. Introduction to Germany

Background to the Second Reich from historyhome.co.uk

The Second Reich from Silvapages.

The Second Reich from schoolshistory.org.uk


The unification of Germany from schoolhistory.org

The Political Borders of Germany from 1789 to 2005.

1._The Unification of Germany

2._Foreign Policy timeline

3._Wilhelm II

Potential causes of  a European War in the C19th.

The Crimean War 1853-56

The Crimean War, from the BBC

The Franco-Prussian War 1870-71

Franco-Prussian War, from history-world.org

Russo-Turkish War 1877-78

An explanation from Onwar.com

An explanation of the wars from Encyclopedia Britannica.

Dual Alliance 1879

Details of the alliance from the WW1 document archive.

From the Firstworldwar.com website.

All the ‘Deadly Alliances’ from Trenches on the Web.

Triple Alliance 1882

From First World War.com

Dual Alliance 1892, (sometimes seen as 1894 as this was when it was fully ratified).

An explanation of the alliance from Encyclopedia Britannica.

A New York Times article from 1918

Fashoda 1894

A page from Historyworld.net

A page from an American history site.

The Fashoda Affair from New York Times

Kruger Telegram 1895

A brief explanation from Encyclopedia Britannica.

From an educational website, ‘MacGregor is history’.

Samoa 1898

A brief explanation from Onwar.com

Samoa from the World at War website.


The following powerpoint presentations cover most events which may have led to the outbreak of war in 1914.

A powerpoint on European relations between 1890-1911.


The clips below are from a PBS documentary series about the Great War.

2. Germany from 1900 to 1914; social and political tensions and divisions in the Second Reich.

The Second Reich from Silvapages.

The Second Reich from schoolshistory.org.uk

3. Germany from 1900 to 1914; German foreign policy.

The Second Reich from Silvapages.

The Second Reich from schoolshistory.org.uk

The Boer War

Although not regarded as a key cause of the First World War, the rivalry between Britain and Germany worsened because of the Boer War. The German public were largely on the side of the Boers, the German press highlighting this, and the British people responded with verbal threats of their own. However, it is worth noting that relations with France suffered as well. The French press were critical of Britain’s war with the Boers. Indeed, there were stories in the British press that with the majority of armed forces several thousand miles away, Britain was undefended and there could be an imminent French or German invasion.

Anglo-Japanese Alliance 1902

Details of the alliance from Firstworldwar.com

A lengthy article on the alliance from Ian Nish.

Entente Cordiale 1904

From history.com

Morocco 1905

A key event in the increasing rivalry between Great Britain, France and Germany. Bulow’s fault anybody?

A short essay of the events of 1905-6.

A page from worldwar1.com

A short clip made by a student

Generally a commentary of events but a few opinions made…from ‘Blacks academy’, an educational database.

From the World War One document archive…looks like wikipedia.

Anglo-Russian Entente 1907

From First World War.com

Bosnia 1908

An event which nearly brought Austria-Hungary and Russia to war.

From an American college website.

A brief summary of all Balkans conflicts from John D. Clare.

From the History Learning website.

From Trenches on the Web.

The Naval Race

From the history learning site.

A miscellaneous website devoted to navies.

From the BBC.

Another miscellaneous website on the the Anglo-German naval rivalry.

A page from a forum on Tirpitz and Fisher but Massie has been quoted often.

The Arms Race

Morocco, (Agadir 1911)

A detailed account from The Open University.

From an American college website.

The Balkan Wars 1912-13

You may not blame the Western powers for the Balkans Wars but these often forgotten conflicts may have widened the problems of 1914. There is always unfinished business after a war has ended. Turkey, for example, would have wanted to reassert itself or even maintain their power. One could argue that Germany, France and Great Britain were brought into the First World War because of the rivalry between Austria-Hungary and Russia over the Balkans.

From a website called ‘Ottoman Military’.

From a website devoted the chronology of history but previously linked to an American university.

From ‘GoGreece.com’.

From a website on conflict. Useful for a short summary and numbers involved.

A 50-minute documentary on the causes of the Great War.

Assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand

From the Firstworldwar.com website.

From Eyewitness to History.

The July Crisis

A good article from First World War.com

A fascinating lesson plan where students try to avoid war. Useful links here.

From the National Archives website. Focus is on Britain.

Origins of a ‘Scrap of Paper’.

Who declared war on who? From the First World War.com

Was Germany to blame for starting the First World War?

Which of the following clips is the more accurate?

The following clips are from the BBC Timewatch series, which was made in the 1990’s.

The following links have been uploaded for you to work out if any one power, or a combination, was responsible for the outbreak of war in 1914. For example, Gary Sheffield and Robert Massie argue that Germany, (the Kaiser in Massie’s case), were to blame. Niall Ferguson blames the British, especially Lord Grey, the Foreign Secretary. Interestingly, Massie writes that Grey was the finest British Foreign Secretary of the C20th. You have to work out your own arguments or choose who to agree with.

A wikipedia historiography on the causes of the Great War.

Historiography – Responsibility for the Great War

A historiography on the causes of the Great War. From John D. Clare, a former GCSE chief examiner.

Gary Sheffield and the causes of the Great War. BBC history.

Gary Sheffield and the causes of the Great War. The Guardian.

Were the problems in the Balkans the reason for the outbreak of war. First World War.com.

Was Germany to blame for the war? First World War.com.

Were they ‘all’ to blame? By Paul Gottfried.

An relatively neutral article from Kennedy Hickman on About.com. However, his title is ‘A Preventable War’.

An article from the Socialist Worker.

An article from Steven S. Sowards explaining that the Balkans were the key area for the cause of the Great War.

Is Mr. Sowards reliable? Does the link below make him a useful source?

A possible CV of Steven S. Sowards.

A short article on the blame for the war. Not to be used as a reliable source due to its length.

‘German war guilt re-examined’ by Graham Goodlad, a British historian.

A wikipedia entry about Prince Lichnowsky.

The wikipedia page on the causes, useful for reference.

One page about the causes with a useful bibliograpy.

Germany and the Origins of the First World War by Niall Ferguson.

The Origins and Consequences of the First World War by Robert Skidelsky.

Origins of the war, with reference to various historians, on a blog page.

Book worth reading on the causes of the Great War are;

Ferguson, N. (2006) ‘Pity of War.’ Penguin: UK.

The first chapter from Pity and War.

Massie, R.K. (2007) ‘Dreadnought – Britain, Germany and the coming of the Great War.’ Vintage Book: London.

Sheffield, G. (2002) ‘Forgotten Victory: The First World War: Myths and Realities.’ Headline Review: UK.

You will have to analyse historians to establish your own judgements.  You will also have to cite these historians in examination questions. The following web pages analyse Ferguson’s Pity of War for example;

A random web page but with comment on Ferguson.

From a history review website.

An independent blog.

This is not a reliable source but Amazon reviews make an interesting read.

These will give you ideas although they probably should not be relied upon as historical analysis.

A book summary with an explanation of structuralist v intentionalist arguments.

One could also argue that the war was inevitable. Ferguson would not agree, his recent book ‘Virtual History’ again repeats his argument that British diplomacy was at fault. Lord Grey is again criticised for his actions, argued by Ferguson that he was a Germanophobe. His constant loyalty to the Entente clouded his view. However, the inevitability of war, or the ‘determinist’ argument, overrides this. Ferguson agrees with Grey in that a continental war was perhaps inevitable. That it became a world war, as Kaiser Wilhelm argues, lies with the fault of Britain.

4. The impact of the First World War

The Impact of the First World War on Germany from schoolshistory.org.uk

The Influenza Epidemic of 1918, from the History Channel.

5.The Birth Pangs of Weimar Germany 1919-23

The Weimar Republic from schoolshistory.org.uk

The economic and political problems of the Weimar Republic.

The Treaty of Versailles from schoolshistory.org.uk

Political Instability from 1919 to 1924. Schoolshistory.org.uk.

Foreign policy problems of the Weimar Republic.

Several links to the Weimar Republic from the history learning site.

Several links to the Weimar Republic from spartacus educational.

Weimar Revision Word

6.The Golden Years of Weimar Germany 1924-29.

Gustav Stresemann and the Nobel Peace Prize.

Several links to the Weimar Republic from spartacus educational.

Weimar Revision Word

7. The Rise of the Nazis.

The Nazis from 1919 to 1924. Schoolshistory.org.uk.

Who voted Nazi?

8. Growing support of the Nazis and coming to power.

From Chancellor to Dictator.

9. How popular and efficient was the Nazi Regime in the years 1933-39?

This controversy requires a study of the nature of the Third Reich prior to the outbreak of war. Students should study all parts of society in order to develop their judgement. The views of historians should be analysed in conjunction, similar to the controversy of the First World War. Students will be asked to write two essays within this topic; to what extent the Nazis were popular and whether Hitler was a strong or weak dictator.

A Student Room revision page on Hitler’s consolidation of power.

Several links to Nazi Germany from the history learning site.

Resistance and opposition in Nazi Germany

A useful exercise from the National Archive.

The Economy

The economy from 1919 to recovery. Schoolshistory.org.uk.

Richard Evans – 05 of 49 – The Third Reich in Power – Opposition to the Nazis

The Nazi economy from Alternate History.

Historical views of the Nazi economy.


Nazi popular appeal from the University of Michigan.

A revision page on how to answer Nazi popularity.

An essay on popularity from a random blogger.

The clip above is from a Holocaust remembrance organisation. It contains eye witnesses and historians, including Ian Kershaw.

The clip above is a speech Hitler gave and was included in Leni Leifenstahl’s ‘Triumph of the Will’.

The clip above is an interview with Ian Kershaw on Hitler and his speeches.

The Church

From the history learning site.

A book review of ‘The Holy Reich’.

A wikipedia page on Hitler and his religious beliefs.

A lengthy article by Gregory S. Paul. He is not a historian so how reliable is he?

Use of fear and force

The Gestapo from the History Place.

The Gestapo from the History Learning site.

An AS Level exercise with sources included.

A Student Room revision page on Himmler.


Nazi propaganda from the BBC. David Welch.

An essay structure for AS Level regarding the use of propaganda.

Nazi propaganda from the University of Michigan.

Nazi propaganda from the GCSE history learning site.

An interesting essay on Nazi impact on German society.


Nazi education policy from a college website.

Fron the history learning website.

From schools history.org.


Women in the Third Reich, from a Holocaust website.

A summary of women’s role in Nazi Germany.


From a Holocaust website.

The Historians

You will need to analyse six or so historians when writing the essay. One should also incorporate the different perspectives of the argument; structuralist, intentionalist and pluralist.

Structuralists understate the importance of hitler and his policies in determining what happened in Germany. They see it rather as a culmination of historical, economic, social factors.

Intentionalists, (such as Hugh Trevor-Roper, Alan Bullock), instead focus on Hitler as a strong personality with a definitive plan and see his power and intentions driving Germany’s course.

Pluralists, (such as Ian Kershaw), believe its an interaction between both Hitler’s determinism and the circumstances.

A useful page from the Student Room website.

A wikipedia page on ‘The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich’ by William L. Shirer.

Revisiting the Rise and Fall of the Third Reich by William Shirer.

A book review of Richard Evans’s ‘The Third Reich in Power’. It is not from a historian however.

A wikipedia entry about Hans Mommsen

A profile of Robert Gellately.

Ian Kershaw by David Irving.

An interview with Ian Kershaw.

An analysis of Lukacs and Rosenbaum from John D. Clare.

Was Hitler a strong or weak dictator?

An article from John D Clare’s website.

weak-dictator-strong-dictator – from Purbeck School.

Was Hitler a weak dictator

A forum on the weak/strong dictatorship controversy.

A useful piece on the weak/ strong argument from a US college website.

A short summary of the debate from Dunn History – a teacher’s website.

Four sources to analyse to help you with the controversy – from ‘Hitlermyth12d’.

Interesting posts on the chaotic nature of Nazi rule.

Extensive Germany revision notes

Hitler historiography

Historians who have analysed Nazi Germany from wikipedia.

A transcript of John Lukac’s interview discussing ‘The Hitler of History’.

10. Fighting the War.

11. Genocide and terror.

Professor Peter Longerich’s ‘The Nazi Racial State’.

Professor David Cesarani’s ‘From persecution to genocide’.

Omer Bartov’s ‘Who were the guilty?’

Resistance sources Holocaust

Liberation sources Holocaust

The End of the Camps

Martin Gilbert’s ‘The Holocaust’.

The historikerstreit of the Holocaust.

An interesting wikipedia page on the historiography of the Holocaust.

Examination Papers.

GCE History Unit 3 Option D1 Kaiser to Fuhrer teacher designed practice paper

GCE History Unit 3 Option D1 Kaiser to Fuhrer teacher designed practice paper 2

Sample Assessment.

June 2010 Question Paper

June 2010 Sources

June 2010 Mark Scheme

June 2010 Examiner’s Report

June 2011 Question Paper

June 2011 Sources

June 2011 Examiner’s Report

Several sources on Nazi propaganda and its effectiveness.

Some typical examination essay questions

Unit 2

‘WW1 was caused by an aggressive foreign policy’. How far do you agree with this policy?

‘WW1 was born out of a German fear of encirclement’. How far do you agree with this opinion?

‘The outbreak of WW1 was ultimately the result of decisions taken by the German military’. How far do you agree with this opinion?

‘WW1 was born out of a German desire to solve their domestic problems and tensions’. How far do you agree with this opinion?

Unit 5

Was Hitler a weak or strong dictator?

Was Hitler master of the Third Reich?

‘The Nazi regime depended more on its broad popularity than on terror in the year 1933-39’. How far do you agree with this opinion?

‘The Nazi regime was popular because of Hitler’s charismatic leadership’. How far do you agree with this opinion?

‘The Nazi policy towards the Jews was plain and unwavering’. How far do you agree with this opinion?

‘In the years 1933-39 Hitler’s rule became a despotic tyranny’. How far do you agree with this opinion?

The power of the Fuhrer was comprehensive and total’. How far do you agree with this opinion?

Source Analysis

A full interpretation of the sources with discrimination – how reliable are the historians? What argument/ point are they trying to put across?

A full understanding of the author’s arguments which are assessed in light of one’s own knowledge.

All parts of the question have been addressed. The key arguments have been given and all interpretations analysed.

There is a sustained argument. Your piece is qualified and persuasive.

Your arguments and conclusions demonstrate an understanding of the historical debate surrounding the topic.

The analysis above is worth 24 of the 40 marks available.

Knowledge and Content

Sustained analysis from own knowledge which supports and is integrated with an analysis of the source material.

Knowledge is well selected.

The selected material directly focuses on the question.

Explicit understanding of the key issues raised by the question.

Evaluate the interpretations.

Write a convincing and logical argument.


Historiography – Responsibility for the Great War

The Nazification of Germany

Hitler in History


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