Berlin Trip 2019
An intrepid squad of 51 History students and 6 teachers ventured to Berlin at half term to soak up some capital culture and witness the impact of Nazi and Soviet rule on this fascinating city. We spent a happy hour in the theatre indicating landmarks and sights to focus on before being transported to Luton for an early afternoon flight. After dinner at the highly cool Hackerschmacht the group braved a journey up to the top of the TV tower where we marvelled at the vast scale of this magnificent capital city at night.
After an unearthly early start we visited Cecilienhof Palace, an imperial palace home to Kaiser Wilhelm II’s son and the location of the pivotal Potsdam Conference in July 1945 where the power dynamic between Harry S. Truman and Joseph Stalin shifted as they negotiated the terms of post-WW2 Europe. A short stop off at Wannsee House where we reflected upon the significance of the meeting which took place in January 1942, the outcome of which was the Final Solution.
We then travelled on to Sachsenhausen Concentration Camp. Based in the suburbs of Berlin, this camp offered an insight into the workings of a labour camp. Early inmates were political prisoners; Communists, Social Democrats, Trade Unionists, most of whom were extinguished by the cruel camp regime. Bowling offered a respite from the history on Friday evening, and teachers were delighted to discover some real hustler talent amongst the group!
On Saturday morning we embarked upon a walking tour of this magnificent capital city, taking in the memorials and statues which tell the story of this city from imperialism to fascism, communist hardship to the thriving European hub witnessed today.
After a couple of hours shopping at the impressive Mall of Berlin (including a slide which takes you from top to bottom!) we were given an inspiring talk about the terror state at Topography of Terror, a museum based on the site of the old Gestapo headquarters. Dinner was enjoyed by the river during the Festival of Light and we all enjoyed the projected light displays and electric atmosphere as we marched home.
Sunday morning allowed for a museum tour of Checkpoint Charlie, once the scene of tense border checks between American and Soviet zones and now a quirky museum full of artefacts including a home-made plane which was used to escape Communist rule in East Berlin. After a brief lunch in sunny Alexanderplatz we enjoyed a trip to the Reichstag Dome which allowed us to ruminate on this unique city whilst contemplating how historical events had shaped it physically and culturally. Vandyke students once again did the school proud: they were endlessly entertaining whilst being enthused by the history – the staff team couldn’t ask for anything more!
Mrs Quinn, Team Leader of History