Curriculum - History - Lesson Plan - Czech points

9th July 2010 at 01:00
Secondary: Using source material and notes that pupils can 'earn' will help them to understand the crisis of 1938, its main players and their motivation

What the lesson is about

This is a task about Hitler's takeover of Czechoslovakia where pupils have to complete a series of tasks to "earn" the next set of notes. The accompanying resources, including letters and cartoons, are all available on the web link provided. It is aimed at key stage 4 pupils.

Aims: pupils will:

- understand the main events of the Czechoslovakian crisis of 1938;

- be able to explain why the main players in the crisis acted the way they did;

- practise using source material;

- be able to come to a conclusion based on source material.

Getting started

Before the lesson, print copies of the alliterative statements, included on the web link below, on to A4 sheets or cards. The statements range from "Austrian Anschluss awakens anxiety" to "Mussolini masterminds Munich meeting".

Divide the class into groups and give each group a copy of the statements. As they work through the activity they should add to each card and then put them on the wall to tell the story. These can be photocopied later to provide revision cards.

For the first task, ask pupils what was the significance of the treaty of St Germain in the Czechoslovakian crisis of 1938. Ask them to discuss this in their groups before writing their answers.

Next, get pupils to consider whether the Czechoslovakian crisis marked a turning point in Hitler's foreign policy. Once they have completed these tasks, give them the notes that set out the background to the crisis.

For the third task, give pupils a cartoon showing the British negotiator Walter Runciman arriving at the Czech-Slovak customs post, to be greeted by Czech prime minister Milan Hodza.

Ask them to explain the significance of the angel with the olive branch, the porter with the Nazi armband and the two men at the customs desk. What do they think the cartoonist is trying to say about the outcome of British negotiations?

To earn the next set of notes on Chamberlain's meeting with Hitler at the Berchtesgarten in September 1938, ask pupils to complete three source exercises. All of the sources are available on the TES website.

The first is a letter to Chamberlain from the British ambassador in Germany. How might this have affected Chamberlain's negotiations? The second is Chamberlain's record of the meeting. What did Hitler say he wanted? The third is another extract from Chamberlain's letter. Why does Hitler say he should have the Sudetenland? What is he prepared to do to get it? What does Chamberlain suggest?

Taking it further

To earn the next set of notes, pupils must complete another source exercise. The first is a note from General Ismay, secretary of the committee of imperial defence. What assumption does he make about the future of Czechoslovakia? What effect does he think German conquest of Czechoslovakia will have on German military strength? How does he think Britain should respond, and why?

Once pupils have completed the task explain that Hitler changed his demand, in line with Ismay's predictions. Mussolini then arranged a meeting between Britain, Germany, France and Italy in Munich. What would Chamberlain's attitude at that meeting be?

Give pupils the next set of notes on the four-power pact. The task is to examine a map of Czechoslovakia. What does this suggest happened to Czechoslovakia subsequently?

Hand pupils a cartoon showing Hitler putting boys representing European countries into a sack. What prediction is the cartoonist making? What reason does he give for this? Show them a cartoon of Stalin in the doorway of a meeting of the Four Powers. What is the message of the cartoon?

Finally, ask pupils to comment on a series of statements, giving an argument in favour and one against. The statements are: Chamberlain's appeasement policy made war more likely because Hitler thought he could get away with anything; Chamberlain's appeasement policy bought a valuable year for Britain to get ready for the war that was bound to come; Chamberlain was totally taken in by Hitler; the Munich agreement was a disgraceful sell-out of the Czech people.

Which do they think is the most accurate description of appeasement?

Where to find it

The lesson plan, tasks and supporting documents, including extracts, cartoons and map, were originally uploaded by annajordan and can be found at

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