Our GCSE Historians enjoyed an action-packed and edifying trip to Berlin over half term. One of the students reports back on her highlights.
‘The three words that best describe this trip have to be: packed, informative and moving. From visiting the Reichstag, the East Side Gallery and the Jewish Museum (not forgetting a dinner at Hard Rock Café), we were busy to the very end. One of my personal highlights had to be – despite my initial reservations – the 3-hour walking tour: our guide gave us a crash course in German history from the very beginning of Berlin to the fall of the Berlin Wall. My other favourite was the Jewish Museum, with its incredible art installations that encouraged you to reflect on the tragedy of the Holocaust. The exhibits, celebrating Jewish life and culture over 70 years on, explained a lot about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, not just WW2. We also visited the Stasi Museum, the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe, and the Topography of Terror, built over the SS’s old headquarters. The Topography of Terror was really informative as it detailed the Nazi’s persecution of many different groups and tried to give you a sense of the scale and reach of the oppression.
For me, the most moving part of the whole trip was the visit to the Sachsenhausen concentration camp. Looking at the scale of the complex, and how carefully it was designed, it drove home the extent of the Nazi’s persecution as well as how much planning was devoted to the mass murder of so many people. The museum within the complex told specific stories of the different people who were interned there, along with photos and personal belongings, reminding us that the people persecuted were just ordinary people caught up in the enormous upheaval that characterised Hitler’s Germany.
Overall, the trip was a wonderful experience. The amount we managed to fit into the four days was incredible and I’m very thankful to the history department for arranging it. Going to Berlin gave so much depth to what we’ve been studying in class as well as furthering our understanding of the GCSE topics. Despite it being profoundly enlightening and poignant, the trip was also a lot of fun and I enjoyed myself tremendously.’
Penelope in Year 10