This February a party of 41 Year 11 History students travelled to Berlin for a hugely interesting four days experience of Berlin. The German capital has, over the past century, witnessed some of the pivotal moments in world history and not always ones which reflect well. However, today Berlin is a thriving city which ensures that the lessons of the past are not forgotten.
On the second day we visited the prison and interrogation centre of the feared East German secret Police - the Stasi, and our guide had a close connection to the prison as her mother had been taken there. The afternoon saw us visit Sachenhausen Concentration Camp and the horrors of Nazi persecution of political opponents; Jews, homosexuals and even enemy soldiers were obvious. The remains of the small gas chamber and furnaces, alongside the execution pit were harsh reminders of this period of history.
Sunday saw us observe Mass in the impressive St Hedwig’s, which is located on the square that the Nazis held their famous book-burnings in the early 1930s. The church was almost destroyed in the bombing of Berlin, but today has been renovated in a most modern and innovative way. As if by arrangement the sermon was on St Thomas More, although it was in German of course!
We then visited the Memorial to the Murdered Jews and then the Allied Museum. The evening saw us get the lift up to the top of the TV Tower for amazing views of Berlin at night.
Our last day in Berlin saw a tour of the Olympic Stadium, scene of so much history but also this year’s Champions League Final. We then visited ‘Checkpoint Charlie’ and the ‘Topography of Terror’ exhibition that detailed the activities of the SS and Gestapo in the Nazi years.
Overall the trip was very tiring but very interesting and great fun. Thanks to Miss Smith, Mr Fell, Mr Dawkins and Mr Bayley for organising this great visit and for giving up their half-term holiday time in ensuring we had a fantastic experience.