Teaching European History With Star Trek

This post is the 2nd in a series written by my guest, Susan. Read part one: Teaching Ancient History With Star Trek.

To Boldly Go…Into European History

Of the three episodes that lend themselves well to approaching events in European history, two are among my very favorites.  The first of these is “Wolf in the Fold”, which sets the story of Jack the Ripper on another planet.  The other is “Patterns of Force,” which describes another just as fearful time, the reign of Nazi Germany.  The third episode, “All Our Yesterdays,” places Kirk in 17th Century England, and deals with Witch Hunts.  Because this is a rather small part of the episode, you might not even want to bother.

All Our Yesterdays

Summary:  Kirk, Spock, and McCoy are sent back in time.

When to Watch:  When studying 17th Century Witch Trials in Europe or America


  • Henchman
  • Accomplice

Questions and Activities

  1. The man called Kirk a slave.  What was the nature of slavery in 18th century Europe?
  2. The woman said the man caught her “cutting his purse.”  What does that mean?
  3. The woman accused Kirk of being a witch.  What would have been the consequences of such an accusation at this time in history?
  4. Kirk threatened to renounce the other man as a witch.  How is his behavior consistent with behavior of others during witchcraft trials?

Wolf in the Fold

Note for Parents: Just like the topic itself, this episode is not suitable for young children.

Summary:  Scotty is accused of multiples murders.

When to Watch:  When studying 1880’s England.


  • Hedonistic
  • Expedite
  • Regressive

Questions and Activities

  1. How does the environment on the planet mimic that of Victorian London?
  2. Do we indeed all feed on death?
  3. Who was Barabbas?  How might he be connected to Jack the Ripper?
  4. Consider the following:  the episode posits the idea that Jack the Ripper fed off of fear, which seems to be the case with most serial killers.  Contrast this with the Bible verse, “perfect love casts out fear.”
  5. How was each of the victims similar to those of Jack the Ripper?  How were they different?


Jack the Ripper was never arrest or convicted; the murders just stopped.

Patterns of Force

Summary:  The Enterprise encounters a planet that has adopted the society of Nazi Germany.

When to Watch:  When studying Nazi Germany


  • Subcutaneous

Questions and Activities

  1. What do you think of what Spock said about John Gill’s methods of teaching history?
  2. What was “The Final Solution” in Nazi Germany?
  3. Did the Jews go down without a fight?  Explain.
  4. Kirk refers to the laboratory.  What kind of weapons were the Nazi’s building during World War II?
  5. Party Secretary Darius was an Ekosian who turned against the Führer.  Did this ever happen in Germany?
  6. “Most efficient state earth ever knew.”  Was that really true of Germany?
  7. “Even historians fail to learn from history.”  Why is it important that we learn about history?
  8. “Absolute power corrupts absolutely.”  Explain.


A few years earlier William Shatner starred in Judgment at Nuremburg, a movie about the charges brought against Nazi leaders after World War II.

Written by guest poster, Susan Mathis. When not busy caring for her family, Susan Mathis also blogs for thecouponcupboard.com.

*Disclosure: this post may contain affiliate links.


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