Thirty four History students from LV and UV braved a cold, early start to their February half term, making their to the German capital for two days of sightseeing. Upon arrival, the group was taken on a walking tour of the city, taking in some of the most famous landmarks of Berlin, including the Brandenburg Gate, the Reichstag building and the car park which in 1945 was the underground bunker of Adolf Hitler. The group were informed how the bunker was filled in with concrete after the war in order to prevent it from becoming a shrine for any future neo-nazi groups in Germany. The students were also given time to experience the Holocaust Memorial consisting of a number of different concrete blocks on varied levels, the idea of which was to replicate the distortion felt by the Jewish people transported to concentration camps in overcrowded trains, where it was impossible to get an exact fix on the horizon.
The following day, the group walked to Checkpoint Charlie, the entry point to the American Zone of Berlin during the Cold War, with a small museum which captured the tragedy of a Berlin divided and the lengths to which residents went in order to escape from the East to the West. The horrors of the Nazi police state were then brought to life at the excellent and highly informative Topography of Terror museum. A trip to Germany would not be complete without the experience of the nation’s favourite sport; football. A short train journey took the group to the site of the 1936 Olympic Games (and more recently the 2005 World Cup Finals). After an excellent lecture from Miss Webb on the successes of Jesse Owens at the games, the group joined 40,000 other passionate Berliner’s to watch Hertha Berlin gallantly lose 2-0 to local rivals FC Freiburg with plenty of singing and chanting from the home fans (and excited Cranleighans!!). To top the day off, the group was treated to a tour of the extremely impressive glass dome of the German Parliament, the Reichstag, with fantastic views across the city at night time. Before returning home there was just time for a visit up the 368 Berlin TV tower, the highest building in the EU, constructed in East Berlin in 1969 at the height of the Cold War as a symbol of power from the communist German Democratic Republic (East German).
Nazi Germany and the Cold War are two of the main topics for the iGCSE History course and it was great to see the students really engage with the history of Germany in one of Europe’s most lively cities. Special thanks must go to Miss Webb, Miss Coyle and Mr Boggitt for their excellent support on this trip.
Mr Rob Verdon