By an in-depth analysis of primary and secondary sources, students in this lesson will identify, understand and be able to explain England’s role in driving the continent towards war in 1914 (including Parliament’s foreign policy decisions that drove the UK away from Germany and towards France), the British reaction to the crisis in the Balkans that fateful summer and what Foreign Secretary Sir Edward Grey meant when he uttered the now famous statement about the “lamps going out all over Europe.”
English / Language Arts
See above for key characters in the Road to the Great War.
In the span of four short days in the heat of summer in 1914, the entire world held its collective breath while everything that Europe knew about itself came crashing down. The Great War was beginning, a war that no one, and yet everyone, wanted. Over the next four years, millions of men would give the ultimate sacrifice in the trenches of France for ideas that most never really understood. Millions more would forever be scarred, both physically and mentally, by the horrors of war. In the end, the terrors of a new type of warfare, that of the trench system, unthinkable only a generation earlier, would permanently ingrain themselves on a collective consciousness. During and after the war, new political, social and intellectual philosophies would arise to challenge old ideas. Ironically, the war never had to happen, at least not on the scope that it came to be. Any one of the major powers could have backed out before it ever started. Some hesitated, but in the end, the web of alliances which had been forged over the years leading up to the struggle was simply too much for anyone to overcome. Students here will understand the basic ideas behind England’s role in driving the continent towards war (including Parliament’s foreign policy decisions that drove the UK away from Germany and towards France), the British reaction to the crisis in the Balkans that fateful summer and what Foreign Secretary Sir Edward Grey meant when he uttered the now famous statement about the “lamps going out all over Europe.”
To view resource web pages, download the lesson plan PDF above.
While on tour, you will visit Parliament, the seat of British government, where the decision to enter the Great War was made by the House of Commons. A short distance away down Whitehall is the Cenotaph, a memorial to the British soldiers from both world wars and the site of the annual National Service of Remembrance, held at 11:00 AM on Remembrance Sunday, the closest Sunday to 11 November every year. Students will have the opportunity to see for themselves where Londoners have gathered for the last 90 years to remember their honored dead and where the monarch lays poppy wreaths every year. Remind them to look for the images of poppies everywhere in London.
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