PBS Germany: Commanding Heights is a dedicated unit about the History of Germany created by the PBS broadcasters. The unit covers the whole of the 20th century rather than being specific to a study of either Weimar or Nazi Germany.
I’m going to start with the negative… it doesn’t look nice… it is really not pleasing on the eye at all! For a company who produce some really good, engaging films the lack of ‘gloss’ or interactivity is very very disappointing.
So, why bother reviewing it then? Well, actually, the content, is pretty useful. Despite the no frills approach the unit contains a very well written set of notes on a wide range of issues. Usually presented in the format of a timeline these notes are useful for revision purposes and would be a good place to direct learners to if they wanted to get a good and accessible overview of the key events in German history.
There is one short video about Hyperinflation tucked away on the site (and other video, that isn’t relevant to the Weimar or Nazi period). The graphs that the site contains are of interest, though are sadly only using data from 1950 onwards.
Can the site be used in the classroom? Yes, as with any site that contains accurate information it has it’s uses. Personally I’d be likely to use a site such as this in a Webquest, where learners use a few specified sites to answer questions or investigate a topic. The site would also be very useful if you are using actiities such as those developed by Paul Ginnis, in particular as reference material for ‘Information Hunt’ or ‘Quick on the Draw’. (See this pdf file for an overview of these activities).