Comparison of sources


How to do this question:

This question is a development of the 'Comprehension and inference from a source' extraction question - only this time, not only are you being asked to extract facts and inferences/deductions from a source, but to contrast the facts and inferences/deductions from two sources.


First, look for at least TWO differences of:


   Do the sources give the same details/ dates/ numbers?

   Does one source mention (sorts of) facts that the other does not?


Also, before you start writing, look for differences of:


   Does the writer analyse the content, or just describe it (‘tell the story’)?   Does he make assertions or pile in the facts?   Short, direct statements or long, flowery prose?



   What is the writer inferring and how can you tell?   Which side does he appear to support and how do you know? 



   Giving examples of the writers’ choice of words, phrases and general ‘slant’, explain/deduce what is their general underlying attitude to the subject – Hostile? Sympathetic? Cynical? Enthusiastic? Believing?




MARKSCHEME: How marks are allocated for this question

Target: Comparison of sources to detect differences (AO 6.2)



Level 1: Selects details from the sources to describe content

e.g. weak generalisations OR contrasts the content of the sources



Level 2: Provides details from the sources to make simple comparisons

e.g. compares details of content in the sources OR draws out differences of approach, tone, inference or belief and emphasis (what ideas they are supporting).



Level 3: Comparison of the sources to explain emphasis and tone

i.e. looks at choice of words/ details to deduce differences in approach, emphasis or tone and EXPLAINS HOW we know.


§         If the question asks how sources differ, no marks are awarded for pointing out similarities.

§         Pupils get no credit for demonstrating their own knowledge, for comparing provenances, for explaining why they are different or for comparing the reliability or usefulness of the sources.



So, for this question, you MUST demonstrate that you can:
1.   Find differences of FACT

2.   Describe differences of belief, emphasis and tone.

3.   Explain how you knew by referring to specific words and phrases.




Cool Sentence Starters:



§         Use the approach:  A-whereas-B…A-whereas-B, rather than writing all about A, then all about B.

§         Use quotes from the source.   "I can tell this because it says..."

§         Really good words are:   …whereas…   …contrastingly…


1.       There are some differences of fact…

            Start by stating two or three factual differences in the sources (start a new line for each one).

            Try to draw comparisons rather than simply write down contradictory facts.


2.       The sources also differ in their approach…/ emphasis…/ tone…

            Try to get two underlying differences of approach, emphasis or tone.

Weaker students could just paraphrase the meaning of the two sources in their own words: ‘What Source B seems to be getting at is that…’


§         Really good words are:   …suggests…   …suspects…   …believes…   …infers…


And for the most able pupils:

It is ESSENTIAL that you provide an explanation at word/fact level of how you came to interpret the approach, emphasis or tone of the sources as you did.


3.         When I see in Source ? the words…





(in the following examples, you can see the points which were ticked ü by the examiner, and - if you mouseover the maroon 'Mark ' at the end of each example - you can see what level and mark the answer got and why)



All the following answers are actual answers by pupils in the 2005 examination.

  1. For each, study them with a friend and - using the markscheme - work out what mark you would have given the answer and why.   Then mouseover the maroon 'Mark ' at the end of the question and see what it actually got and why.

  2. When you think you have got the measure of 'what makes a good answer', try one of the two 'exam practice' questions at the end for yourself.   Show it to your teacher (or your friend) and discuss what level and mark your attempt would have got.


    The KEY to this question is: 'Have I identified differences in approach, tone, inference or belief and emphasis?'.





Source B         One view of the Five Year Plans

From The Illustrated History of the USSR, an official history published in Moscow in 1982.

The drive towards industrialisation was an heroic struggle by all the Soviet people.   It showed their enthusiasm following the revolution of 1917 and victory in the Civil War.   The Five Year Plans gave a focus for the people’s hopes and joy.   The whole world watched closely to see the process of industrialisation in the USSR and the success in getting rid of backwardness.


Source C         Another view of the Five Year Plans

From Stalin, by A ULAM.   This book was published in the USA in 1973.

At tremendous human cost, the Soviet Union was pushed within a few years (1928-1934) into becoming an industrial economy.   To some, this is the greatest crime of modern history.   To others it is a huge feat of social control, ruthless and cruel in its effects on millions of human beings.   Yet it laid the foundations of a richer economy and enabled Russia to withstand a foreign invasion and become a superpower.



(bi)   How does the content of Source B and C differ?                                                       (6 marks)


a.   Sources B and C differ in many ways one of them is that Source B was written by a Russian whereas Source C was written by an American.   Another thing is that the Russia is saying how good and greatü 1 it was but the American is saying how bad it was and it was a crime.ü 1



b.   Source B and C both describe the 5 year plans but in very different ways.   Although both writers tell that they helped to modernise and industrialise Russia, the authors have very different views on the methods.   Source B talks of an ‘heroic struggle’ü 1, and builds up the enthusiasmü 2 the people must have felt.  

Source C however talks of a cruel ‘crime’ü 1, where people were forced to workü 2 for their country.   The main difference for me is that Source B talks as though it was a people’s effort, of their own free will, because they wanted to help Russia, whereas Source C explains it as a time where they had no choice.



c.   The content of Sources B and C differ.   In Source B it describes the five year Plans as a ‘heroic struggle’ü 1.   This suggests that the person thinks the Five Year Plans were a huge successü 2 and also focuses on the good points on the Five Year Plans.   It also shows some of the enthusiasmü 3 the people had during this time.   In Source C, however, the content shows that there was a very negative aspect to the Five Year Plansü 4.   It suggests that the increase in industry came at the cost of peoples livesü 5 and intense suffering.   However, it goes on to say that the five year plans ‘laid the foundations’ of a richer Russiaü 6.



d.   Source B is different to Source C because Source B say that the ‘five year plans gave a focus for the people’s hopes and joy’ this is different to C where it say that the five year plans where ‘ruthless and cruel in its effects on millions of people

            Another way in which they differ is when Source B say that the Five Year plans where ‘am heroic struggle by all the Soviet people’, this is different to Source C because Source C say that only at ‘tremendous human cost’ rather than the heroics of the Russian people, where the five year plans achievable.

            However, they don’t really totally disagree. Both sources agree that the five year plans helped get ‘rid of backwardness (Source B) and that they also helped the USSR ‘become a superpower’.







Source F         One view of the Reichstag Fire, February 1933

From an account written in 1950 by RUDOLF DIELS, a Nazi and head of police in Berlin in 1933.

I think van der Lubbe started the Reichstag Fire on his own.   When I arrived at the burning building, some police officers were already questioning him.   His voluntary confession made me think that he was such an expert arsonist that he did not need any helpers.   Why could not one person set fire to the old furniture, the heavy curtains and the bone-dry wood panelling?   He had lit several dozen fires using firelighters and his burning shirt, which he was holding in his right hand like a torch when he was overpowered by Reichstag officials.


Source G         Another view of the Five Year Plans

From Hitler: A Study in Tyranny, by the British historian ALAN BULLOCK, 1952.

Goering had been looking for an excuse to smash the Communist Party.   He at once declared that van der Lubbe was only part of a larger Communist plot to start a campaign of terror.   The burning of the Reichstag was to be the signal for Communist revolt.

In fact, I believe that the burning of the Reichstag was planned and carried out by the Nazis themselves.   Van der Lubbe was picked up by the S.A. after he had attempted to set fire to other buildings.   He had been allowed to climb into the Reichstag and start afire on his own in one part of the building while the Nazis started the main fires.



(bi)   How does the content of Source F and G differ?                                      (6 marks)


e.   From reading Source F and Source G, I can see that the content differs.   In Source F I can see that the content is about the Reichstag fire, we are told who started the fire and how he started the fire.   However the content in source G is also about the Reichstag fire, there is a questioning who really started the fire.   So as we read both sources we clearly see how the sources differ around the content.

Source F tells us an account of the happenings clearly, however this account was written by a Nazi, which tells me that it might not be completely accurate.   Were as Source G is written by a British Historian who will take in all the facts.   Although at this time Britain wernt very friendly with Germany so it might be inaccurate.



f.   The content of Source F and G differ mainly in the fact that Source F puts all the blame on Van der Lubbe stating the Reichstag fire and Source G blames the Nazis for it.



g.   Source F and Source G both give their interpretation on the Reichstag fire.   Both sources seem to differ.

Source F states that: ‘I think van der Lubbe started the Reichstag fire on his own’ü 1.   However, Source G claims that the Reichstag fire was started by van der Lubbe and the Nazisü 1.

These two sources both having that big difference in their story of the Reichstag fire.



h.   The content of sources F and G differ greatly.   Source F tells us that van der Lubbe started the Reichstag fire on his own, giving no explanation as to his motives.   It says that he managed to light several fires on his ownü 1, but doesn’t explain how he managed to enter the Reichstag buildingü 2.

Contrastingly, Source G disagrees and the writer believes that van der Lubbe started the fire with the aid of the Nazisü 1.   It also offers explanations as to why van der Lubbe was willing to do it i.e. to signal a communist revolt.   In contrast to the Nazi police report, the historian believes that van der Lubbe was hired by the Nazis allowed to enter the Reichstag and assisted by Nazis in the attack.



j.   Source F and G differ considerably in their views on the Reichstag fire.   Source F tells us that van der Lubbe started the fire of his own accordü 1 with no helpers.   The person writing the source mentions van der Lubbe’s voluntary confessionü 3, inferring that it was him and only him who was involved.   However, in Source G we are given another viewpoint that more people were involvedü 1, such as Goering who had been ‘looking for an excuse to smash the communist party’.   This gives the impression that it was not just one man’s destructiveness but that a larger group of people were involvedü 3.

The writer of this source then goes on to give his own opinion that the Nazis had actually started the fireü 2, but nowhere in Source F are the Nazis mentionedü 2.   This is another vital difference between the two sources.










Source C         The new Constitution of the USSR

From History of the Soviet Union in Artists' Drawings published by an official Soviet press agency in Moscow, 1974

From a one-time economically backward country, Russia had been transformed into a mighty industrial state.   The new Constitution, the Constitution of victorious socialism, was adopted in 1936.   It guaranteed all Soviet citizens the right to vote and freedom of speech.


 Source D         The 1936 Constitution

 From Russia and the USSR 1905-1991 by P INGRAM, 1997.   This was a textbook written for use in British schools.

In 1936 Stalin introduced a new constitution which appeared to give greater freedom and democracy to the Soviet people.   In theory everyone was given the right to say or write anything.

In reality these rights did not exist.   The ruling committee of the Communist Party, headed by Stalin and packed with his followers, continued to hold complete power.   the right of individual citizens to express their own ideas without fear of punishment did not exist.   Stalin had no intention of allowing anyone to criticise him.


(a)     In what ways is the content of Source C and D different?                                          (6 marks)  



Source G         An account of life in a Hitler Youth camp in the 1930s

From This is Germany by CW DOMVILLE-FIFE, a British writer, 1939.   It was written to explain what the author had seen in a Hitler Youth Camp.

Life in the camp appeared to be one of healthy exercise in sports and games, but absolute discipline was maintained.   By this I do not mean that it was harshly enforced.   The boys were happy to accept it.

It seemed to me also that, although every boy was conscious of his approaching military service, there was little if any drill performed in the camp.   the leader had, of course, served in the German army, and military enthusiasm is part of the healthy and cheerful pattern of the German Boy Scout movement.


Source H         A description of a Hitler Youth Camp in the 1930s

From Just Back from Germany by JA COLE, a British writer, 1938.

It is claimed that the work of the Hitler Youth is in no way a pre-military training.   All the same, I should think it is a good preparation for the army.   The children learn discipline.   They march in ranks.   They drill.   When I attended a Hitler Youth camp, I asked a boy what they had done last night.   In the presence of several others and one of the leaders, he said pistol-shooting.   Very good fun, and not necessarily a military pastime.   However, it hardly justifies the claim that the youth movements have nothing to do with military training.


(b)     In what ways is the content of Source G and H different?                                          (6 marks)  


Answer a          Level: 1          Mark: 2

•   ü 1-1  are awarded for a statement about Source F, which is then followed by the contrasting statement about Source G.  

•   This is a basic generalised statement of difference which warranted a L1.

•   This is a Grade E answer.  

Answer b          Level: 2          Mark: 4

•   ü 1-1 and ü 2-2 identify differences of emphasis in the sources.

•   Although she does not do so explicitly, this candidate clearly identifies two differences in the emphasis of the sources - that B implies heroism, C cruelty/ B emphasises effort, C compulsion.  

•   Look for the words 'views', 'must have felt', 'talks as though', 'explains it as' which all introduce inferences.   She also uses evidence from the sources to support her argument, thus gaining a good L2.

•   This is a Grade B answer.  

Answer c          Level: 2          Mark: 4

•   ü 1 to 3  identify the positive emphasis of Source B and ü 4 to 6 identify the negative emphasis of Source C.

•   Although she does not make it explicit, this candidate clearly identifies two differences in the emphasis of the sources, - that B emphasises success whereas C is negative/ B emphasises heroism, C compulsion.  

•   Look for the words 'This suggests', 'focuses on', 'shows that', which all introduce inferences.   She also uses evidence from the sources to support her argument, thus gaining a good L2.

•   This is a Grade B answer.  

Answer d          Level: nk          Mark: nk

•   I have included this because it is a wonderful example of a A-whereas-B, A-whereas-B answer.

•   What do YOU think this answer should get?

•   Look for the last sentence which is absolutely irrelevant to a question about differences and would score no marks.

Answer e          Level: No level awarded          Mark: 0
•   In the first paragraph the candidate does not say much more than that there is a difference, and in the second she talks about the accuracy of the sources.

•   We may KNOW what she was getting at when she said that in Source G 'there is a questioning', but really the words mean nothing and the examiner has to mark what you say, not what he thinks you meant.

•   This is a Grade u answer.  

Answer f          Level: 1          Mark: 1
•   A broad generally-true statement of the difference earns one mark.   This candidate said what candidate e. meant

•   This is a Grade u/G answer.  

Answer g          Level: 1          Mark: 2

•   ü 1-1 are awarded for a fact about Source F, which is then followed by the contrasting fact from Source G.   Notice that this candidate understands that Source G says it was van der Lubbe AND the Nazis.

•   This is a classic L1 answer -- it states contrasting details of content from the sources, but does not draw out the difference adequately.

•   Notice that the first and last sentences simply say that the sources are different and are a pure waste of ink.

•   This is a Grade E answer.  

Answer h          Level: 2          Mark: 3

•   ü 1-1 are awarded for a fact about Source F, which is then followed by the contrasting fact from Source G.

•   ü 2 is awarded for realising what is different about the sources.

•   This answer, by talking about 'offers explanations' and what 'the historian believes', reaches L2.   However, it only gets 3 marks (at the bottom of L2) because it only gives one factual difference and simply asserts the difference of underlying beliefs.

•   This is a Grade C answer.  

Answer j          Level: 2          Mark: 4

•   ü 1-1  compares the factual claim in F that only one person was involved, with an inferred 'viewpoint' that more people were involved.

•   ü 2-2  compares the 'opinion' that the Nazis started the fire with F's failure to mention the Nazis.

•   ü 3-3 contrasts an inferred standpoint that only van der Lubbe was involved with the 'impression' that more people were involved.

•   Notice how the candidate makes an inference from van der Lubbe's 'voluntary confession' which mist have been very close to getting a L3.

•   This is a Grade B answer.