Learning objective

To analyse a range of original sources from one culture for evidence of the extent to which it changed its view of another.

Learning outcomes

  1. To have analysed a range of German sources dating from the First World War about Sikh (and other Indian) soldiers.
  2. To have identified any changes of attitude evident in German sources about Sikh (and other Indian) soldiers during and after the First World War.
  3. To have judged the extent of the change evident in German sources about Sikh (and other Indian) soldiers during and after the First World War.
  4. Invite suggestions as to how pupils think that German propaganda may have portrayed Sikh (and other Indian) soldiers during the First World War.

START by showing Resource M: Slide 1 which shows a blood thirsty depiction of a Sikh soldier from a German children's picture book of 1914 entitled ‘Our Enemies’.

GIVE OUT copies of the same picture from Resource N1 and display the list of terms from Resource M: Slide 2 (these are the same list of terms used for analysing British propaganda representations of Sikh and other Indian soldiers used in Lessons 2 and 3.

Within a set time ASK pairs to annotate a copy of the image, highlighting details which appear to support particular terms listed on Resource M: Slide 2 and lead a discussion taking suggestions from pupils.

GIVE OUT the images of British propaganda depicting Sikh and other Indian soldiers from Resources J1-J12.

ASK pairs to identify any British images of Sikh soldiers that might depict them in a similar way and if so, why they think this might be. (It was in the interests of British propaganda that German troops unfamiliar with Allied colonial forces should fear them.)

DISPLAY Resource M: Slide 3 which shows a German propaganda image entitled ‘Destruction of an Indian Brigade west of Aubers’.

ASK pairs to discuss any similarities and differences with Resources J1-J12 and afterwards take suggestions from pairs about any they may have identified.

DISPLAY Resource M: Slide 4 and explain that it shows a German postcard from early on in the war with an image of a German soldier holding a captured Indian soldier. Explain that the phrase ‘Der Gefangene Inder’ translates as ‘The Captured Indian’.

GIVE OUT a copy of Resource N2 (the image from Resource M: Slide 4) and ask pairs to discuss which terms from the list of Resource M: Slide 2 might best describe the depiction of the Indian.

LASTLY display Resource M: Slide 5 and read the source to the class.

DISPLAY an enlarged copy of Resource J11 (the same photograph of the Sikh corporal used in Lessons 2 and 3).

As in Lessons 2 and 3, GIVE OUT post-it notes of one colour to pairs. Within a set time limit ask pupils to write statements which summarise how Germans viewed Sikh soldiers in 1914 from the evidence that they have seen so far.

SELECT pairs to come up and stick their post-it notes to the image of the Sikh soldier reading out statements as they do so.

From this website DOWNLOAD AND ENLARGE copies of the portraits showing Sikh prisoners of war painted by German artists during the war (these are images 1- 5 of the ‘Portraits’ gallery slideshow).

PLACE these portraits at child eye-level around the room and ask children to rotate slowly around the portraits in silence jotting down what impression they get of the soldiers (do not reveal at this stage that the portraits were completed by German artists).

After a set time ASK pairs to discuss their impressions of each painting and take suggestions for suitable words to describe soldiers.

DISPLAY Resource M: Slide 2 and lead a discussion about which terms would best describe the paintings of Sikh soldiers.

THEN reveal that the paintings were painted by German artists of Sikh prisoners of war.

DISPLAY Resource M: Slide 6 and explain that the Germans captured thousands of Allied non-white colonial soldiers from Africa and Asia and set up a special prison camp called the Halfmoon Camp in the town of Wunsdorf in Germany. Explain that around one hundred Sikhs were held prisoner in the camp.

DIVIDE the class into small groups and give out copies of sources (Resource O1, Resource O2, Resource O3, Resource O4 and Resource O5) which give evidence of how the German authorities treated the prisoners and what other Germans said about Sikh (and other Indian) soldiers during and just after the First World War.

ASK groups to read the sources carefully and once again display Resource M: Slide 2. Within a set time limit ask groups to annotate the sources for evidence of German attitudes towards Sikh soldiers and discuss the extent to which these appear to have changed since the outbreak of the war.

GIVE OUT a new set of post-it notes (of a different colour to those used at the start of the lesson) and ask pupils to write down statements which summarise German attitudes towards Sikh (and other Indian) soldiers after 1914.

ASK them to bring these to the front of the class and stick them to the image of the Sikh corporal.

LEAD a final discussion about:

  • how much German attitudes had shifted (Indian soldiers were respected and admired);
  • why they had shifted (because of greater first-hand knowledge of Indian soldiers);
  • how similar yet different German attitudes were compared to British ones (both the British and Germans in general retained the belief that Europeans were superior to non-whites, both admired Indians of the ‘martial races’, but British attitudes were underpinned by the fear that they might lose control of their colonial subjects in India).

For a summary of the historic background as to how the Germans treated Sikh (and other Indian) prisoners of war, see Resource P.