History GCSE / National 5: How Britain reacted to the outbreak of war in 1914

Jeremy Paxman explores how the nation reacted to the outbreak of war in 1914, looking at the attitude and expectations of both politicians and public.

Patriotic crowds gathered outside Buckingham Palace in the final hours before the ultimatum given to Germany ran out, and hear the words of Chancellor of the Exchequer Lloyd George on realising the threat had been ignored and the country was at war.

Britain feared the ambitions of Kaiser Wilhelm II and German expansion in Europe.

At this point, no one was aware that this was the start of a new kind of modern warfare that would impact upon the whole nation.

Teacher Notes

KS3: The class could create a newspaper front page reflecting the mood of Britain. This clip could act as stimulus for a role play focusing on the different expectations people had from the war when it began.

KS4: The class could create journal entries for David Lloyd George focusing on the attitudes of political leaders. They could also write contrasting diary entries from members of the public with their views, or a newspaper editorial summing up various attitudes to the impending war.

National 5 / Higher Students could create a newspaper front page reflecting the mood of Britain at the outbreak of war. This clip could act as stimulus for a discussion about people's expectations of the war.

Curriculum Notes

This clip will be relevant for teaching History. This topic appears in at KS3 in England, Wales and Northern Ireland and OCR, Edexcel, AQA and WJEC/Eduqas GCSE/KS4 in England and Wales and CCEA GCSE in Northern Ireland. It also appears in National 5 and Higher in Scotland.

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