History KS3 / KS4: Fighting in the trenches

Stefan Westmann was a German conscripted in 1914, and recalls the terror and horror of being under heavy artillery fire in the trenches.

He expresses horror and regret at his own killing of a French soldier, and reflects on the inhumanity and brutality of war and how it made normal men killers.

He also remembers the kindness of the British in allowing the German to bury their dead after they had repelled a German attack.

This memory informed his decision to move to London when he needed to escape from Germany in the 1930s.

This is from the series: I Was There: The Great War Interviews

Teacher viewing recommended prior to use in class

Teacher Notes

Students could identify as many different features of fighting in the trenches as they can find.

The teacher could ask them to focus on the following features in particular: attitude towards the enemy; methods of attack and defence; attitudes of soldiers towards the war.

Curriculum Notes

This clip will be relevant for teaching History at KS3, KS4/GCSE, in England and Wales and Northern Ireland

Also at Third Level, Fourth Level, National 4 and National 5 in Scotland.

This topic appears in OCR, Edexcel, AQA, WJEC, CCEA GCSE and SQA.

More from the series: I Was There: The Great War Interviews

Going over the top
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Horace Leslie Birks interview
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John Willis Palmer interview
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Attrition
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Life as a munitionette
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Life as an officer during WW1
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One woman's loss
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Recruiting soldiers in WW1
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Respite
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How did shell shock affect soldiers?
video
The Christmas truce, 1914
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The Gallipoli campaign
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War in the air
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Being a pilot in WW1
video
Changes on the home front during WW1
video
Death and survival
video