Active Learning on

Eye Spy Gestapo

This activity comes from Martin Strawson who teaches in Lincoln. As Martin’s explained it so clearly I don’t need to add an introduction!


To show that the numbers of the Gestapo was irrelevant – it was the fear of their existence that mattered.


Used at the start of looking at the police state. This is based on article that revealed in Dusseldorf, with a population of 500,000 people, there were only about 100 Gestapo.

The Activity

1. The teacher is Hitler/Himmler. Depending how daring you are you may wish to dress up!

2. Tell the students that they are all conspirators against the Nazis – you may wish to assign more specific roles or simply tell them that they have a brain!

3. Tell the students that, when the activity starts, they need to get into groups large enough to overthrow you (Hitler/Himmler…) The bigger the group, the better

4. Then tell the students to all put their heads down on the desk and close their eyes

5. Anyone you tap on the shoulder is a member of the Gestapo. Whilst you are walking around, explain who the Gestapo are and the role of the secret police. The key is that you don’t tap anyone on the shoulder.

6. Once you have finished walking around tell the students to sit up. Explain to them that they need to get into their groups but to be careful – if they get a Gestapo officer to join them the Gestapo officer will report them!

7. Allow students a few minutes to walk around and get into their groups. You can ham this up as much as you want – tell them you have just received news that a group of (however many you want 5,6,7…) is needed to assassinate the Fuhrer.

8. Once students start to figure out what you are doing, make the big reveal that indeed none of them are Gestapo

Follow Up

1. Ask students – did it matter that there wasn’t any Gestapo?

2. Ask students why they chose who they chose to get in groups with. Hopefully, students will have chosen their friends and therefore the answer will be trust – and this was exactly the same in Nazi Germany. People associated with those who they knew they could trust

3. What was the effect of all of this for Hitler? The point, of course, is that he needed very few Gestapo officers to keep the German people from associating or plotting against him.


1. You may assign students certain roles (e.g. Jews, workers) to extend the game for A level students to try and get into groups with similar motives to show why many supported Hitler

2. You may actually dot a couple of Gestapo officers in but provide all students with a “notebook” – this could then lead to bluff and double bluff with the “informing” being done at the end


Constructive feedback is always welcome, particularly anything that will help other teachers.

This Page


The Activity

Follow Up