A-Level History:
Paper 3

This page aims to guide you through how to write an A Level History essay for CIE paper 3.

The paper three question requires you to read, understand and then evaluate the source. Then, you should be able to identify the interpretation/approach of the Historian towards the Holocaust. There are a few different interpretations available...

    • Intentionalism: The intentionalist argument focuses on Hitler and his ideology, arguing that Hitler and the Nazis planned to exterminate the Jews from the start.

    • Functionalism: The functionalist argument sees the Holocaust as an unplanned response to wartime developments in Eastern Europe (such as the failure of Germany's invasion of the USSR).

    • Structuralism: The structuralist argument is that the Holocaust was caused by the nature of the Nazi state. There was no coherent plan for the Holocaust, but the chaotic competition for Hitler's approval between different areas of the Nazi party's leadership produced a situation in which genocide could occur. Due to the particular Nazi policies of Aryan supremacy and the way by which each Nazi leader interpreted Hitler's wishes, the holocaust occured.

    • Synthesis: The synthesis interpretation shows characteristics of more than one of the above.

    • Contemporary: there may also be a contemporary interpretation of the Holocaust, in which there is a clear focus on the victims of the Holocaust, the perpetrators of the Holocaust or bystanders (those who ignored the Holocaust).

*You can view the mark scheme of the 2021 Paper 3 Specimen Paper here.

How should you structure your paper 3 answers?

Introduction

  • Focus: what is the extract about?
    For example... 1. "The focus of the historian is the foreign reactions and responses to the Holocaust." or 2. "The focus of the extract is on the importance of Hitler's antisemitism to the progression of the Holocaust."

  • Big Message: what is the main message that the author of the extract (the historian) is trying to convey?
    For example... 1. "The Big Message of the Historian is to criticise the hesitant attitude and lack of response of the USA and Britain to the genocide of European Jews under the Nazi regime." or 2. "The Big Message of the extract is to emphasise and convince the reader that Hitler's antisemitism was the fundamental factor which resulted in the occurrence of the Holocaust and that his determination to realise his anti-semitic goals was the driving force which led to the Jewish genocide."

Body Paragraphs

In the body paragraphs, you should break down the contents of the extract by paragraph, into multiple parts, in order to interpret the meaning and explain the interpretation and approach to the Holocaust which is followed by the Historian.

  • Topic Sentence: what is the sub-message of this paragraph? (this should also demonstrate the view of the Historian through the use of strong words, such as 'argues', 'believes', 'indicates', 'supports' or 'criticises'.
    For example... 1. "The historian criticises the lack of acknowledgement of the Western Allies towards the Holocaust despite receiving the news in the summer of 1942." or 2. "The historian argues that the background of Hitler's antisemitism, which originated from Vienna, led to his consistently racist views."

  • Evidence: you should now include evidence from the extract, and then explain each piece of evidence.
    For example... 1. "The historian denounces Britain and the USA for only fighting a 'controlled war' in order to minimise their own casualties. This is because they were unwilling to commit their national war efforts into saving the Jews." or 2. "In reference to Hitler's exposure to Marxism and Jewery in Vienna, the historian depicts the origins of Hitler's anti-semitic beliefs and the 'earth-shattering realisation' he had towards the 'terrible importance' they would have to Germans, leading him to perceive Jews and those who believe in Marxism as enemies of the German state."

  • Overall explanation: now you should provide an overall explanation of the sub-message (and by extension– the paragraph)
    For example... 1. "The Historian argues that the increasingly reluctant mindset of the Western Allies in welcoming Jewish refugees, especially Britain, was due to the emergence of conflict in the Second World War and a fear of Jewish overpopulation in their countries." or 2. "Therefore, the historian provides the origins of Hitler's antisemitism to account for his key role in the Holocaust, as it led to cruel, yet consistent and central beliefs in Hitler's personal ideology and the Nazi ideology."

Conclusion

  • Big Message: you should now explain and elaborate on the main message that the historian is trying to convey.
    For example... 1. "The Big Message of the Historian is to criticise the USA and Britain for their unwillingness and failure to intervene in the Holocaust, even after repeated requests for intervention by Jewish leaders, to which the allies responded by further neglecting their appeals." or 2. "The Big Message of the source is to emphasise Hitler's fundamental role in carrying out the Holocaust, blaming his will and determination to transform his anti-semitic ideology into a nation-wide policy and practice of anti-semitism and genocidal ideology."

  • Interpretation/approach: after reading, understanding and evaluating the source, you should now be able to identify the interpretation/approach of the Historian towards the Holocaust. There are a few different interpretations available...

    • Intentionalism: The intentionalist argument focuses on Hitler and his ideology, arguing that Hitler and the Nazis planned to exterminate the Jews from the start.

    • Functionalism: The functionalist argument sees the Holocaust as an unplanned response to wartime developments in Eastern Europe (such as the failure of Germany's invasion of the USSR).

    • Structuralism: The structuralist argument is that the Holocaust was caused by the nature of the Nazi state. There was no coherent plan for the Holocaust, but the chaotic competition for Hitler's approval between different areas of the Nazi party's leadership produced a situation in which genocide could occur. Due to the particular Nazi policies of Aryan supremacy and the way by which each Nazi leader interpreted Hitler's wishes, the holocaust occurred.

    • Synthesis: The synthesis interpretation shows characteristics of more than one of the above.

    • Contemporary: there may also be a contemporary interpretation of the Holocaust, in which there is a clear focus on the victims of the Holocaust, the perpetrators of the Holocaust or bystanders (those who ignored the Holocaust).

Past Papers, Specimen Papers and Mark Schemes

A Level History 9489 Past Papers and Mark Schemes

Click here for the CIE A-Level History 2021–2023 Syllabus.

CIE History 2021 Specimen Paper 3

503484-2021-specimen-paper-3.pdf

CIE History 2021 Specimen Paper 3 Mark Scheme

503474-2021-specimen-paper-3-mark-scheme.pdf

History Paper 3 (Holocaust Extract Question)

Paper 3 (Section B: Topic 2) The Holocaust [QUESTION PAPER].pdf

History Paper 3 (Holocaust Mark Scheme)

Paper 3 (Section B: Topic 2) The Holocaust [MARK SCHEME].pdf