Lesson Plan

Defying the Treaty of Versailles

Explore the preparations made by Hitler as he geared up for war. Read through a secondary source, with excerpts from some primary sources, in order to get an understanding of how these actions were viewed. Explained as defensive measures, Hitler began increasing the military, reconstructing the German air force, and taking back the Rhineland.

View All Lessons
Nazi Germany
World War II

Enduring Understanding

Hitler openly defied restrictions set forth in the Treaty of Versailles with seemingly no repercussions.

Essential Question

  • 1If there are no consequences, what stops someone from breaking the rules?


5 Min

Ask students who the initial aggressor was in WWII?

Given that it was Germany, and given that Germany was not supposed to be capable of war, how did they become the aggressor?

Tell students that they will be reading about the initial actions taken by Hitler that would ultimately drive Germany toward war. Note that they will also be exploring how these illegal actions were perceived by people at the time.


20 Min

Direct students to the source, Battle for Work, which is an excerpt from Facing History and Ourselves. Have them read through the document individually first, taking note of sections, words or ideas that they didn’t understand clearly. Give students about 10 minutes to read this text.

Then, divide the class into five groups. Start them on the path toward understanding by having them attempt to answer one another’s questions about the text.

Ask the large group whether they think Hitler’s jobs program might have been attractive to Germans, amidst a depression and in the wake of the defeat of WWI. Then, ask each person to read, Rearming Germany by Facing History and Ourselves.


25 Min

In the same small groups, have students discuss the questions available on the ‘Rearming Germany’ page. For the first fifteen minutes, ask each group to talk through each question and discuss what they think about each. Then, assign one question to each group and ask them to quickly prepare a short response to their question to kick off the broader, full class discussion about that question.

Teacher Primer

Know Before You Go

Before you teach, use our teacher primer to freshen up on your content knowledge.