Year 10 & 11 Students Dive into Berlin’s History on Half Term Trip
By Meher G and Lucia F-R, Year 10
During half term a group of Year 10 and 11 students flew to Berlin, Germany for a history GCSE trip. After arriving at our hotel for the next four days, and dropping off our luggage, we took off for our first outing. We met two tour guides who helped us navigate through the Berlin underground system which in the 1960s to 1980s served as a transportation method of getting from East to West Berlin, and by bus. After splitting into two groups, we were taken on a walking tour of Berlin about Nazi Germany. This included the remains of the underground bunker in which Hitler spent his last days in and the memorial of the murdered Jews of Europe. We also toured around The AlexanderPlatz Gate and the Soviet War Memorial. We returned back to the hotel to have our dinner and have a quick rest before heading off to the TV Tower, which is Berlin’s tallest building. Once getting to the top of the Tower, we were welcomed by the breathtaking views of Berlin.
The following day, we were taken to the remains of the Berlin Wall and were taken on a tour about the history of the wall and the reasons behind it. We learnt about the many who tried to escape from East to West through, under and above the wall. We were shown other memorials including the plaza in Bebelplatz where many books were burnt for not corresponding to government views. After this we went to visit the Reichstag building, which is where the German government is located. We were given an excellent tour around seeing the rooms used by different parties and travelling up to the dome at the top of the building. There we could see the sights of Berlin at night again. After a long day we returned back to the hotel. Before lights out, the teachers surprised us with sweets at our door for a lovely Halloween surprise.
On Wednesday we were up early to start our commute to the Sachsenhausen concentration camp. There we were guided around the camp, including the prison where those who refused to follow orders went to, there were many museums within the camp, containing leftover items from the prisoners. We were shown remains of gas chambers used to murder the prisoners and introduced to the type of people that were sent to such camps including Jews, homosexuals, communists and many more. After we were taken to the Stasi Prison, where ex Nazi political individuals were sent to. We were shown rooms where they stayed, the room where those who rebelled against guards were sent to; this was a black rubber circular shaped room with no light entering it. We were also told about the psychological torture the prisoners were put through like their lack of social contact from any other prisoner and how they had to stay awake for 10 hours a day just facing the wall. Following this tough morning we were given an hour to explore the Berlin Mall where we were enlightened by German culture from shops and food. Soon after, we travelled to a sixties diner for dinner, where the food was very tasty and was a great time to relax after the tiring day we had had. To end the day, we advanced to the DDR museum where we got to live the life of a German citizen during the 1960s, which was a happy and fun way to end the day. The museum was very informative and was a favourite destination for many.
On the final day, we ventured to the Palace of Tears, the former border crossing point between East and West Berlin. There we learnt about the struggles and terror of travelling between the split city and the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989. Afterwards, we visited the Topography of Terror Gestapo and SS museum which showed the termination of the many groups in German occupied countries like Poland and learnt a lot from analysing photos and looking at different accounts of the individuals who were killed. Straight after, we travelled back to the hotel to fetch our bags and headed to the airport for our journey home.
Overall, Berlin was a fantastic experience filled with fulfilling historic learning and was an extremely fun trip. Thank you to the teachers who took us. It was a once in a lifetime opportunity and we would highly recommend this trip to anyone who has the chance to go.