Teacher | Student
Originally produced in: Deutschland
Also available in: en

Curricular level

History Classes (NRW). Gymnasium: Topic: ‚Understanding others and oneself in historical perspective’ and ‘National Socialism and World War II’ = 9th grade. Gesamtschule: Topic: like Gymnasium = 10th grade. Realschule: Topic: ‘National Socialism and World War II’ and ‘Weimarer Republic’ = 10th grade. Deutschland


The use of negative images and stereotypes is part of the major policy instruments of populist politicians. Therefore large parts of the population tend to believe in them and the stereotypes lay the ground for exclusion, persecution, pogroms and genocide. The history of the 20th century has been called an “age of extremes” (E. Hobsbawm) because a myriad of such persecutions and exterminations took place.

In 1919, after the end of World War I, a lot of these negative images and stereotypes existed in Germany, p.e. against the Social Democrats who were called “unpatriotic” because they allegedly had fallen the undefeated army in the back, against the Jews who were pictured as “world conspirators” that had pushed Germany and (optionally all other countries) into the war but also against the German neighbors who fought on the Allied side. Anglophobe tirades were part of the rhetoric of every politician who followed imperialist objectives, especially since Wilhelm II started to build the naval fleet; since the liberation wars against Napoleon the French were called “hereditary enemies” of Germany; and the stereotype of the “Polish economy” (meaning chaos, mismanagement and crime) was created in the 18th century.

The teaching sequence described herein focuses on a “double cartoon” of the Kladderadatsch from 7.27.1919. The title is: “The German economy and its transformation into a Polish economy”. The term “economy” is ambiguously meant here, because it targets the economies of the Germans and the Polish, but the picture shows two scenes in a tavern.

Conceptual Objectives

The pupils develop interpretations on the basis of sources ( a contemporary cartoon) and presentations.

They first describe the cartoon and afterwards relate it with the context. Thus they are able to switch between the perspective of the ‘performing’ (intention of the cartoonist) and the ‘pictured’ (the Polish).

Methodological Objectives and Skills

They analyze, compare and rank different approaches in the actions of the people in the context of their contemporary values.

They “describe significant developments, changes and characteristics of single periods and societies” here: the pupils describe the impact of the Versailles Treaty.

Suggestion of Activities

Start with a comparison of the cartoons from 1919. the students can be divided into two groups, each of them is describing and analyzing a cartoon and explains their findings to the other group afterwards.

Afterwards the students learn something about the historical context.

Analyze the cartoon of the evening Standard from 1939. the class discusses the historical context by reading the speech of Reinhard Heydrich.

Finally the students should discuss to what extent the stereotypes could have played a role in the way German soldiers treated Polish people after the invasion.

Suggestion of Evaluation

Are the pupils are able to describe cartoons and grasp their meaning?

And, are the pupils able to see and discuss everything in the historical context.