Invasion of the Rhineland 1936 – a study in political cartoon analysis

All too often when the students see political cartoons in textbooks they focus on an oval shape in the centre of the picture, often missing peripheral detail and occasionally ignoring the caption, punch line, date and author.  This lesson uses a technique, known to most of you, of breaking the image down part by part so that students gradually build and deepen their understanding in layers. Whilst this lesson focuses on visual images you could follow this up with an examination of key texts as suggested on the Learning Curve site of National Archives

Learning objectives

  • students grasp the impact of the invasion of the Rhineland and can link it to what was happening in Abyssinia
  • students learn to decode 3 contemporary cartoons, particularly looking for inferences

Starter

Explain that the lesson is going to deal with an event which Hitler described as the most nerve-wracking 2 days of his life.

Step 1

Explain the background, linking with work on Abyssinia, using the timeline on slide 2.  Focus on the Mutual Assistance pact between Russia and France which gave Hitler a pretext.  He argued that he should be allowed to place troops on his own frontier.

Explain that it was

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