World War II | European Theatre | 1. Blitzkrieg and Dunkirk DBQ | Lesson | PDF (2024)

In this lesson students will learn about the start of World War II by recording notes on the early event such as the German Blitzkrieg, Invasion of Poland, and Rescue at Dunkirk. Prior to recording notes, students will complete a mapping activity that shows the state or Europe prior to World War II. Finally, students will work on their DBQ writing determining, "Why was the Rescue at Dunkirk a miracle?"

What's Included?

  • 10 Slides (PDF)
  • 4 page Worksheet (PDF)
  • Everything you need for the following lesson

Need this as Google Drive Files? Click HERE

Lesson Outline:

Warmup - Direct students to complete page one of the worksheet. By the end of the video they should understand the following:

  1. At the start of the War German, Italy and the Soviet Union were allied and defeated most of the continent.
  2. The British, French and Polish tried to hold off the advance of the dictators but could not.
  3. Spain was ruled by a dictator who was also a fascist. Although Franco supported Hitler, he never formally allied with Germany/Italy and did not contribute troops to their war effort.
  4. Stalin’s and Hitler’s alliance would soon break.

Explain to students that in order to learn about how Germany conquered the continent, we will record notes.

Project slide titled, Blitzkrieg – Axis Domination of Europe

Explain to students that the Germans used their newly trained army and advanced technology to conquer the continent. They use a new battle strategy to called the “Blitzkreig” which meant they would send their entire army in an incredibly fast attack on a massive scale. No one had ever seen attacks so large before! First they sent the German airforce or Luftwaffe in massive numbers. Their planes would drop thousands of explosives and destroy the area. Then the panzer divisions or tanks divisions would be sent in massive numbers. Finally ground soldiers would march into cities and towns and take control of the region. This process will be used over and over again throughout Europe.

Project slide titled, Invasion of Poland

Explain to students that to the east of Germany was Poland. During World War I the western part of Poland was controlled by Germany while the eastern part was Russia. Hitler makes an alliance with Stalin to invade Poland. Stalin invades from the East and Hitler from the west. Following this invasion the Allies, France and England formally declare war on Germany and await his invasion of France. Poland falls in just 30 days.

Project slide titled, Blitz Elsewhere

Explain to students that Germany will invade and conquer other nations even faster than Poland. To the north of Germany, Denmark will fall in just 2 days of the Nazi advance. Following Denmark, Norway falls in just two weeks. At this point Hitler has conquered Austria, Czechoslovakia, The Ruhr Valley, Half of Poland, Denmark, and Norway. Hitler’s army is clearly the strongest in the world and the Allies are not prepared to fight him.

Project slide titled, Maginot Line

Explain to students that the French created a fortified defense on the border of France and Germany. The French made the Maginot line during the 1930s due to extreme fear of German invasion. Along the border of Belgium and France the British sent their army to await the invasion of the Germans along the same path they took during WWI. For 8 months the allies stood their posts waiting for the war to begin. One area along the border was left poorly dependent along the Ardennes forest. The dense forest appeared to be too heavy for an army to go through it. However, Germany attached bulldozers to their panzer divisions and plowed through the forests. The Blitz of France begins and the Allies quickly get divided and the British are making a run for the English Channel in order to pull back to England.

Project Map of Maginot line and emphasize the information told previously.

Explain to students that Hitler’s new battle strategy was leaving the world in complete fear. No one understood how the Germans were able to move entire armies so quickly and conquer land so fast. Moreover the soldiers appeared to be fighting as superhumans. Well there was a secret weapon for the Germans. German Blitzkreig Video on page two. Show students the video on page two under subheading “Blitzkreig”. By the end of the video they should understand the following:

  1. Hitler’s soldiers used drugs to stay up for days at a time and not fear death. This made their army even more difficult to stop and made a fighting force that was unmatched to any previous the world had ever seen.

Project slide titled, “Rescue at Dunkirk”

Explain to students that the British were completely surrounded. Originally, they had 3 ports that they used to move soldiers from England to France. However, now they only had one. Dunkirk was a port on the English Channel 21 miles from England. 400,000 British soldiers were trying to leave the beaches of Dunkirk to get back home. However, the port was shallow, therefore larger vessels could not reach the port to take soldiers back home. Moreover, the beaches were getting crushed by the German Air Force as bombers and machine guns killed thousands awaiting rescue. Eventually, Winston Churchill made the decision to call on all British boatowners, commercial, personal and military to go to Dunkirk and save the army. Small fishing vessels that only had space for 2-3 soldiers and large passenger ships all headed for Dunkirk. In the end 338,000 soldiers were saved and hope was restored.

Explain to students that Hitler’s military was crushing England and France. It appeared that they were going to push the armies into the sea and defeat the British and French. However, that did not happen. We are going to review a few sources to understand how this could be possible. After reviewing the sources you will write a DBQ. If your students need further DBQ instructions checkout the Free Full Story History lesson on DBQ writing below!

World War II | European Theatre | 1. Blitzkrieg and Dunkirk DBQ | Lesson | PDF (2024)
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