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Produced by Cary Adams, 1994


The nation-state in Western Culture can be traced to the 15th century with the formation of modern Spain, France and England. The nation-state has generally been a geographic unit composed of a people of similar ethnic or racial characteristics, history and culture.

Modern-day Nationalism can be traced from the French Revolution as a unifying spirit of the masses of people in order to rid society of a feudal aristocracy. To the masses, the aristocracy had greater loyalty to its class, regardless of nation-state, than to its nationality.

As more people are enfranchised through the 19th century and early 20th century, national groups and nation-states vie for greater land and resources. These conflicts are compounded by scientific and technical advances, the Industrial Revolution and resulting dominance of Europeans throughout the World.

Nationalism has had the effect of exploding some empires, such as the Ottoman Empire, and Austria-Hungary, Yugoslavia and the USSR while imploding others, such as Italy and Germany.

General Curricular Objectives:

Although World War I can be seen as caused to a great extent by the unwillingness of nations to sacrifice some of their pride (Nationalism), World War II clearly shows Nationalism taking the added step of systematically eliminating various groups based solely upon their national or ethnic identity.

While Hitler's "final solution" during World War II is the most conspicuous example of Nationalism directed at various groups, other evidence can be found in the Armenian Genocide, Rwanda and the "ethnic cleansing" in the former Yugoslavia.

Nationalism might be understood by students in terms of an individual's pride or self-esteem. Some individuals base their pride upon personal accomplishment, while others do so by putting down surrounding individuals, therefore presenting themselves as superior. Nations act much as individuals by building pride or national identity inwardly through societal accomplishments or outwardly by policies that seek to degrade and subject other national groups.

Day I

Daily Dispatch (about 10 minutes): Write a brief description from either the dictionary or textbook for
1. Nation (or Nation-State)
2. Aristocracy

Filmstrip: "19th Century Nationalism" (about 40 minutes)

Discussion Questions:

  • Why was it important for the French during the Revolution to create a strong sense of national identity?
  • How did that Nationalism change by the start of World War I in 1914?

Homework Reading:

1. Read pp. 623-627, World History, Traditions and New Directions.
2. Observe news reports this week with regard to Rwanda, the former Yugoslavia, and former USSR. Be prepared for a discussion on Thursday.

Day II

Daily Dispatch (about 10 minutes): Write a brief description from either the dictionary or textbook for
1. Pride
2. Self Esteem (or esteem)

Discussion Questions:

  • In what two ways can self-esteem or pride be expressed by individuals?
  • Which way develops a higher and more positive level of self-esteem?
  • What is the long range impact of gaining self-esteem with the second method of putting people down in order to raise one to a level of being superior?

Roll Play:
Paired, students are to script a short play showing how self esteem can be created through the pride of personal accomplishment and pride that is created through uncompromising disrespect of others. Several roll plays may be presented to the class.

Discussion Questions:

  • Based upon the reading, if each nation were an individual, how would you explain their behavior during crisis in 1914?
  • How did the "blank check" and ultimatum contribute to the start of World War I?

Homework Questions (from last night's reading):

  1. What was the reaction in Europe to the German argument that it should be the dominant military power on the Continent?
  2. Why did France want to go to war against Germany?
  3. How did Nationalism affect Italy's aspirations?
  4. List the national groups that wanted political freedom and eventual independence from Austria-Hungary.
  5. Like Russia and France, what were the only means Serbia believed it could achieve it's goals?
  6. If perceived as a friend of the Slavs, why was Francis Ferdinand considered the greatest enemy of the slavic nationalists?


Daily Dispatch (about 10 minutes): Write a brief description from the dictionary or textbook for
1. Genocide
2. Holocaust

Reading: Selected quotes from Mein Kampf regarding the planned elimination of Jews, homosexuals and gypsies as well as references to Poles and Russians as subhumans.

Filmstrip (about 20 minutes): "The Holocaust"

Discussion Questions:

  • How does Adolph Hitler's nationalism differ from that of World War I?
  • Describe the processes involved which led to the Holocaust.
  • Describe the specific methods used in the "final solution".

Day IV

Daily Dispatch (about 10 minutes): Write a brief description from the news viewed this week for
1. Ethnic cleansing
2. Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR)

Review and Discuss Homework Questions

Discussion Questions:

  1. What is genocide?
  2. Is genocide taking place anywhere in the world today? If so, where?
  3. What forms does "ethnic cleansing" assume in the former Yugoslavia?
  4. How is "ethnic cleansing" comparable to the "final solution?"
  5. What groups are involved in the conflict in Rwanda?
  6. What events have taken place and can the conflict be considered genocide?
  7. How is Nationalism affecting the former USSR?
  8. Is there potential for genocide in the former USSR?

Day V

Daily Dispatch (about 10 minutes): Write a brief description from the news viewed this week for:
1. Yugoslavia
2. Rwanda

Current Events: Using selected articles from the newspaper concerning Bosnia, Rwanda and former Soviet Union, complete the attached current events form in pods (groups). Students are to give focus on national identity through efforts to unify a people through self pride achieved by cooperation and compromise or efforts which focus on unifying a people though fear, violence and uncompromising acts.

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