'How Useful Is a Source' Example -History

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Source A is a memo written by the German general, Von Falkenhayn. It was during the year of the battle of Verdun, 1916, making it a primary source. Source A was written to highlight the purpose and aim of the German assault on Verdun, while Source B is written by General Haig to describe the defensive conditions of the battle of the Somme. The date is unknown which may detract from its reliability, however we can infer from the writing style that it is most likely an account or report of the battle of the Somme, thus making it a primary source written at approximately 1916 during or after the battle.

Whilst analysing a source, a historian must not disregard the perspective of the source and the influences that shape perspective. Source A is written by the male German, Von Falkenhayn. Falkenhayn was a German general who was in charge of many operations during WWI, and was thereby of high rank and power. Being of high rank, Falkenhayn expresses the German point of view of confidence in the plans for the battle of Verdun as he holds a positive outlook on the tactics used to break stalemate at Verdun. This perspective will cause a historian studying German attempts to break stalemate to question the reliability of the source. The date matches the year of the battle of Verdun and it is written in a formal manner as expected by military officials at the time. Source A also corroborates other evidence by reflecting the intended aim of the battle which was to lead the French to the battlefield and destroy them during their defence of the area. The Germans did in fact attempt to fulfil this aim making Source A a fairly reliable source.

On the contrary, Source B is written through the perspective of the British. General Haig was a man of high power and rank as he was the commander of the British Expeditionary Force (BEF) during WWI. This would influence his point of view about the battle of the Somme in reports such as Source B. The battle of the Somme was a...
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