The Merchant of Death - Basil Zaharoff

He was so violent and ruthless that he continues to inspire the bad guy in pop culture. Despite that, Basil Zaharoff, or The Merchant of Death, is still relatively unknown among most young historians. Zarahoff, an arms dealer, created a profiteering scheme that fed on the rise of nationalism and fueled the carnage of the Great War. 

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CCSS: Adaptable
Instructional Ideas

  • Use the biography to prompt a discussion of the ethics and violence of war
  • Build class content knowledge by using to show how alliance system and profiteers contributed to the onset of World War I
Classroom Considerations

  • Mentions sexual relationships
  • Discusses war and violence, including references to the Church of Satan
  • Part of the larger video biography series Who Did What in World War I

  • Provocative themes at the end of the video spark further discussion and inquiry
  • Intriguing images stimulate scholars' historical imaginations

  • While well done, the video is pedantic at times and may lose the attention of some pupils
Common Core