IB History Essay Body Paragraph, a Model

By Adam Stengel

(AP/IB History, English Literature, English Language, History tutor at The Edge Learning Center)

As I’ve mentioned in a previous blog, many of my students claim they have trouble writing history essays. Because the IB History assessment is essay-based—particularly the Paper 2 and Paper 3 (HL only)—learning how to compose historical arguments in well-developed prose paragraphs is absolutely vital for course success. Below is a “model” body paragraph I coauthored with one of my students in preparation for their mock. It responds to a Paper 2 Prompt from the May 2017 exam: Compare and contrast the methods used to maintain power in two authoritarian states, each from a different region.

Like Mao, Hitler, with the aid of Joseph Goebbels ( These methods of propaganda included newspaper articles, radio broadcasts, large rallies and the distribution of posters throughout Germany. The significance of these forms of propaganda does not stem merely from their existence, but, instead, from the tremendous scale in which they were distributed. Perhaps most importantly, through propaganda Nazi leadership was able to create a cult of personality in which Hitler was presented as a God-like figure and Germany’s savior and creator. For example, in an original propaganda poster of Hitler, he is characterized as the Nation’s divine blacksmith, sharpening a sword with a sledgehammer.  The ideas behind these images were consistent, and Goebbels used propaganda to portray Hitler as a “superman.” Also, as Albert Speer, Hitler’s chief architect noted, “Hitler was one of the first to be able to avail himself of the means of modern technology,” such as the radio, where the Nazis aired speeches and other on-air forms of indoctrination. Thus, Nazi propaganda appeared modernized and advanced, promising a better future while maintaining the status quo. Among German citizens, the number of radios that occupied each household increased from 25% households in 1932 to 70% by 1939, the largest proportion globally. This popularity of radios gave Hitler and the Nazi regime a platform to be constantly campaigning and in the ears and minds of the people. Historian Stephen J. Lee, states that: “The success of the Nazi movement is inevitably associated with the highly skilled use of propaganda.”  Therefore, Hitler and his party used propaganda successfully in order to create an image of an all-encompassing rule that had a formidable leader at the helm. This was crucial to the Nazi regime as it reduced resistance to Hitler’s rule and consequently reinforced his position as the one-man leader of Germany for over a decade.

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