Then and now: exploring the ‘Dimbleby dispatch’

This is a new self-study series of lessons for KS3 students that focuses upon the ‘Dimbleby dispatch’, the now famous radio broadcast by Richard Dimbleby in the days after the liberation of Bergen-Belsen by British Forces. Starting by investigating ‘What was Bergen-Belsen like?’ and exploring what liberation meant to both survivors and British Forces, the sessions go on to consider the dilemma facing the BBC, should they broadcast Dimbleby’s account of Belsen’s horror? The materials within the sessions also encourages students to develop English language skills when considering the quality of the dispatch and enhance media literacy and we reflect upon the dispatch’s relevance, 75 years on, in a world of ‘fake news’.

Each lesson is just 40-45 minutes long and consists of a set of PowerPoint slides that introduce the lesson theme and key questions – based principally on a 12-minute film interview* with Richard’s son, himself an acclaimed author, broadcaster and journalist, Jonathan. By engaging with the interview, in full or in extracts, students are guided to explore a range of evidence, and have a short quiz or activity at the end in which they can reflect on how new knowledge of Belsen, Richard Dimbleby and the dispatch has shaped their understanding of some key aspects of the Holocaust and Britain’s collective memory of it.

These materials lend themselves to cross-generational learning conversations, and we would encourage parents and carers to talk to their young people about the material – not just the dispatch and its context – but also questions about the media and related issues today. The liberation of Bergen-Belsen became an iconic moment in our national consciousness, whether because of the memory of the dispatch, the newsreels, the imagery, and this series of lessons could open-up the space for powerful, precious learning conversations with grandparents and elderly neighbours/family friends. Talking about the past, especially the Holocaust, can be hard, be we hope these materials will stimulate discussion, questions, thinking and sharing together, and support media literacy and critical thinking today and in the future.

We really look forward to seeing how your understanding of some key aspects of the Holocaust develops. Hopefully this material might inspire you to look at some of other home-learning sessions, which explore the Holocaust in more depth.

*Should the embedded 12 minute film interview not work on your computer/device it can be accessed here: https://youtu.be/ydttIyW26PA


Introduction

Lesson 1

Lesson 2

Lesson 3

Lesson 4

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