HISTORY AND GERMAN TRIP TO BERLIN
Berlin was amazing!
On the first day, students arrived to the airport filled with nerves and trepidation about what lay ahead.
After the excitement of a two hour flight, we met our guides and went on our first visit. We visited the Reichstag and the Tiergarten on the first day, tracing Hitler’s rise to power. This was on a freezing cold day with hail coming down sideways! Not what the students had expected.
Day two included visits to the Brandenburg gate, the memorial to the murdered Jews of Europe, and Plotzensee Prison – which happened to be a working prison which the students were a bit concerned about! In the evening, we went to the top of the TV Tower – the tallest building in Europe. Some students were initially worried about going up to the top but everyone did after some coaxing by staff and guides.
Day three was when the historical gravity of the trip really hit home. We started the day at Sachsenhausen concentration camp. This visibly impacted students especially after visiting the gas chambers and crematorium. The horrors of the Holocaust were clear to see and the guides later commended the students on their maturity and respect around these sights. We later visited Wannsee, where the ‘final solution’ was decided upon and ended the day at the Olympic Stadium. Between these visits, we went to a Commonwealth War Graves cemetery for RAF pilots shot down over Berlin. This was a good moment for students to reflect, which they did and was a particular highlight for most of the students, seeing the ultimate sacrifice made by many young soldiers against the Nazi regime.
After this sombre reflection on how lucky we all are, the students went bowling. This was a chance for students to show off their prowess...or not as the case was for the staff!
The final day included trips to Cold War sights. Students saw the Berlin Wall – even buying chunks of it from vendors – and then went to the Stasi prison. A case of particular interest was the padded dark cell which was used as punishment for non- conforming prisoners.
Students arrived home tired but with a much better understanding of the horrors of the Nazi regime and the legacy of the cold war.
Teacher of History.