SMART TASK: Weighing up the evidence for who caused the Reichstag Fire

This task follows a more open-ended investigation of written sources on the Reichstag Fire.  Most of you will already do this and there is no shortage of source material available.  The Spartacus site alone offers nine.  A number of schools, such as the

How the task works

1.  Start by showing PowerPoint slide 2 showing Hitler with Hindenburg before the Reichstag Fire and then the second image, animated to follow on the same page, taken immediately after. Students will immediately spot Hitler’s uncontrolled glee.  Have they ever seen images of him looking so happy?  But why is he happy? The Reichstag has just burned down!

2. Students will clearly start to think about his possible involvement and will want to know the answer.  This is where they have to think hard for themselves.  They are introduced (or more likely re-introduced to the three theories as shown on PowerPoint slide 3. Each theory is supported by a range of evidence.  Spend a few minutes asking students what the evidence might be.  This warms them up to the task ahead. Issue each student with a copy of Resource sheet 1 – the grid.  To help them focus on what makes evidence reliable,

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