Magazine article Times Educational Supplement

Humanities - History Made Real: Resources

Magazine article Times Educational Supplement

Humanities - History Made Real: Resources

Article excerpt

Bring back BBC docudramas, a wonderful classroom resource.

An unexpected bonus in the excellent BBC History File programmes used to be spotting actors now better known for other work. For example, a young Daniel Craig can be heard narrating the drama documentaries known to generations of history teachers and pupils as "Geordie Nazis", because of the accents of the two men who portray members of the SA.

But these slices of the past - now traded as hard currency by history teachers in the know - are increasingly difficult to access. There are occasional broadcasts in the early hours of the morning, but they are not well-publicised. Short extracts can be found among the BBC Learning Zone's Class Clips, but you have to know what you are looking for. No further series have been commissioned from producer Andrew Chater.

Yet they give irreplaceable pictures of the past to young people, who find it difficult to imagine what it was really like to live in Nazi Germany, Soviet Russia or the US between the wars. The past really is a foreign country, but one easier to envisage through these series based on the life stories of real people.

One such story is that of Henry Metelmann, who died last July. The son of a socialist railway worker and a committed Christian, Henry became a passionate follower of Hitler, much to his parents' sorrow. When Henry's scout group was submerged into the Hitler Youth, he found that he loved the uniform, the marching and the camping trips. At 18, he was drafted into the army and became a tank driver on the Eastern Front. …

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