Berlin: History in Context

At the end of the Michaelmas term, the History department took Fifth Form GCSE pupils to Berlin to see the sites where the Germans conceived and launched their campaigns leading up to and during WWII, and to understand how Germany had recovered from that experience. 

On our first evening we went straight out to see the iconic Reichstag, and then the Brandenburg Gate, a powerful and impressive sight, dramatically lit.

The second day included a tour of the Olympic Stadium, the site of so many historic encounters, and also a good look round the German History Museum.

The prison at Plotzensee, the concentration camp at Sachsenhausen, the Holocaust Memorial and the villa at Wannsee where the Final Solution was conceived, provided chilling evidence of humanity at its worst.

On the final full day, we visited the Palace of Tears, the crossover point from East to West Berlin where people’s futures were decided. We also saw the Stasi interrogation centre and the harrowing prison at Hohenschonhausen. 

After full days of touring, we enjoyed evening cultural performances, including the ballet, opera and music. We were all impressed by a large-scale revue with over 100 dancers, musicians and artists that combined music, theatre and technology with marvellous results. 

We could have spent many more days in Berlin. Stepping outside the classroom with our teachers as guides was not only invaluable preparation for our exams, but it was a tremendous experience that we will not forget.  

Joseph Meisner (L)