2. German and Italian expansion: Videos and activities

On this page you will find some suggestions and links to videos as well as teacher notes with suggestions as to how the videos can be used with students.

Questions for each video are also on separate worksheets that can be handed out to students.

1. Road to War: Italy

Teachers' notes

This gives a solid overview of Mussolini's quest for a major role on the world stage and the resulting clash with the other European powers. It has interesting interviews with Italians who played key roles in Mussolini's state.

It is probably best shown in sections as per the headings below, or as a revision video at the end so that students can see the whole overview of Mussolini's aims and actions. The type of questions that students could focus on while watching this video could be as follows. We would suggest stopping after each section to discuss the questions.

Background: 2 to 6.45

  1. What was Mussolini's dream for Italy, according to his son?
  2. What did Nationalists believe was the first aim of government?
  3. What was the impact of World War One on Italy?
  4. What did Mussolini promise Italians he would achieve?

Mussolini in power: 6.45  to 17

  1. What were the characteristics of Mussolini's totalitarian state?
  2. What factors prevented the Italian state not being completely totalitarian in practice?
  3. What were some of Mussolini's domestic achievements?
  4. What image did Mussolini try to create of himself as Duce?
  5. Which groups in society were attracted to Fascism?

The move to militarism: 17  to 23.30

  1. What were Mussolini's views about war?
  2. How did he prepare the Italians for war?
  3. Why was the significance of Austria for Italy?
  4. What happened in 1934?

The war in Abyssinia: 23.30 to 33.30

  1. What factors encouraged Italy to expand into Ethiopia?
  2. What factors allowed Italy to win the war?
  3. What actions were taken against Italy by the League of Nations?
  4. What was the impact of this within Italy?
  5. How did the war in Abyssinia impact Italy as a whole?
  6. What was the impact of the involvement of the Spanish War on Italy?

Alliance with Hitler 33.30 to end

  • What factors encouraged Mussolini to make an alliance with Germany?
  • What was the result of the Rome-Berlin Axis of 1936 for Italy and Italians?
  • How did Mussolini put himself forward as a European statesman in 1938?
  • Why was Italy unhappy with Germany's invasion of Poland in 1939?
  • Why did Mussolini eventually join the war on the side of Hitler?

  Video questions for students on Road to War: Italy

 2. Road to War: Germany

Teachers' notes:

Again this video gives a good overview of events leading up to World War Two with some excellent interviews from people who were part of Hitler's government. The first 15 minutes focuses on Hitler's Germany. We suggest starting at 15.28 when the video begins talking about Hitler's moves to war. A good strategy here is to use this as an introduction to Hitler's foreign policy and to get students to write down the key dates and events of Hitler's actions in paving the way for war domestically and his actions on the international stage.

3. Summits by David Reynolds

Teachers' notes:

This is an excellent video on the lead up to and the events that took place at the Munich Conference in 1938. It is actually 1 hour 30 minutes long so you can either show in sections with discussions in between or you could show the last part on the Munich Conference. This video is best shown after students have already studied the key events so that they can fully appreciate David Reynolds' take on the events, not to mention in acting out of the conferences! They should make notes on Reynolds' arguments regarding Munich. The video is also interesting in pointing out that this was the first of the 20th century summits.

Timings of the video as follows:

Introduction: 0.00 - 21

  • This section makes interesting judgments on both Chamberlain and Hitler and the fact that this was the first 'summit' and thus a new type of diplomacy.
  • It also covers the background to the Sudeten crisis and a discussion on Chamberlain's family background along with the fear of air warfare and the power of the German air force which could have influenced his actions with regard to Hitler.

The Berchtesgarden Conference: 21 - 40

  • Hitler's surprise at Chamberlain's summitry and how Chamberlain compromised his original position.
  • Chamberlain's report back to the cabinet and changing mood within Britain.

Bad Godesberg; 40.30 - 1 hour

  • Hitler's new demands and the consequences.
  • Divisions within the cabinet.

Munich Conference, 1 hour  - 1.21

  • Hitler's decision to call for another summit.
  • Chamberlain's hopes, Mussolini's role and the events surrounding 'peace in our time'

Hitler's repudiation of the Munich Agreement and the end of appeasement and the (wrong) lessons that Hitler drew from Munich, 1.21 -  1.24

Conclusions about Chamberlain's actions: 1.24

4. Peace in our Time

Teachers' notes

This is another excellent video, again with strong opinions about Chamberlain's role in the crisis. It was made in 1988 and the sound track is very dramatic - by Eric Clapton. Students need to be aware that this is a very one-sided view of Chamberlain's actions; it would be good to follow up with a debate on both sides, or students writing a review of the documentary in which they put forward the opposite viewpoint. The questions that students could answer while watching this video are attached. Or they could watch the video just to focus on the one-sided nature and pull out the language, music and structure that help convey the intended message.

The video is only in sections on YouTube. The link above is for section 6 as it is probably enough to start watching the video from the meeting at Bad Godesberg. This is also where the questions  below start (also on a PDF below)

Notice the choice of vocabulary and music. Who is The Dealer and who is The Godfather? 

  1. What points is Duff Cooper’s son making regarding Chamberlain, his policy of appeasement and the meeting at Berchtesgarten?  

  1. According to the video, what were the results of an opinion poll on Chamberlain’s actions by 1938? 

  1. What had his colleagues suggested should be his attitude towards Hitler’s demand? 

  1. What was the meaning of the quote from Shakespeare’s Prince Hal? 

  1. What did the British, French and Czechs agree to? 

  1. What was the tone of the newsreel clip? 

  1. What was happening in the Sudetenland itself? 

Cabinet and Czechs reject Hitler’s demands 

  1. What is the reaction of the French?

  1. What is happening in Britain? 

  1. What chance of success did the Czech army have against the Germans if there was war? 

  1. What is the public’s attitude in Britain? 

      5. What do commentators think might happen at the Nuremberg Rally

      6 In his speech what points does Chamberlain use that reflects points made by Goering at Nuremberg? 


  1. Why do you think the documentary shows the comedian John Cleese before the real images of Chamberlain? 

  1. What was the role of the Czech delegation at Munich? 

  1. What was decided at Munich about Czechoslovakia? 

  1. What point is being made about the concentration camps such as Dachau? 

  1. What comment is made when Hitler signs Chamberlains’ agreement

  1. Why didn’t the Czech PM Benes fight? 

  1. Who resigned from the Cabinet what reasons does he give for his resignation? 

  1. What does Joe Kennedy the US ambassador to Britain say? 

      9. What is the reaction to his comments? 


  1. What does Hitler’s occupation of Prague show?  

  1. What does Lord Halifax Foreign Secretary say?  

  1. How does the historian explain Chamberlain’s actions towards Poland?

  1. What did Churchill say about the consequences of Munich?

Comment on the overall message of this video and the techniques that have been used to convey this message: 


Video questions for Peace in our Time: Munich 1938

5. Did we have to fight?

This is another video on the issue of appeasement which gives a good overview of the steps leading up to the outbreak of World War Two with the focus on Britain's actions.

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