A group of twenty-six A Level and GCSE History students and three members of the History department have recently returned from a highly enjoyable four-day visit to Berlin. During the visit we explored many key historical sites associated with Weimar and Nazi Germany as well as Cold War flashpoints.
On our first day in the city we completed a walking tour of central Berlin, exploring the remains of the Berlin Wall at Bernauer Strasse, the Holocaust Memorial, the Brandenburg Gate and the site of Hitler’s bunker. After dinner we visited the TV Tower at Alexanderplatz, the tallest building in Germany. We were whisked 203 metres up to the Observation Deck in a high speed lift. The viewing platform offered a panoramic view of Berlin.
The next day our first port of call was the Stasi prison. We were able to learn more about the life of East Berliners during the Cold War and the extent of repression in the German Democratic Republic. We then travelled to Sachsenhausen concentration camp; whilst there we were given a guided tour which explored the dreadful conditions experienced by Jews and political prisoners in the Third Reich. This was followed by a visit to the site of the Wannsee conference. This picturesque villa was the location for the chilling 1942 conference which agreed upon the Final Solution. In the evening we had some light relief and went bowling. This proved to be very competitive though some of the boys displayed some questionable bowling techniques!
On Saturday we travelled out to the Olympic Stadium, venue of the 1936 Games. We were fortunate to have behind the scenes access as preparations were made for the Hertha Berlin match against S C Freiburg. We then travelled to the German Resistance Memorial Centre housed at the former Army High Command where plans were made for the July 20th 1944 Bomb plot. We learned that von Stauffenberg and some of his fellow plotters were shot on the night of the failed conspiracy in the courtyard of the Army High Command. On our last evening in Berlin we toured the Reichstag building which culminated with us visiting the Dome and the rooftop terrace. This provided us with fantastic views of the city at night.
Our final day in Berlin commenced with a visit to the museum at Checkpoint Charlie; whilst there we were able to learn more about some of the incredible escape attempts after the construction of the wall in 1961. We then had some time at the Topography of Terror built on the site of the former Gestapo Headquarters before it was time to fly home.