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History trip to Berlin

History trip to Berlin

Read about the Berlin trip – write-up by Miss Gribbin, History teacher

The eagerly awaited residential visit for years 11, 12 and 13 to Berlin took place over the beginning of the half term. We arrived in Berlin late on Sunday night and students checked into their rooms and settled in for an early rise.

The exploring began on Monday morning with a comprehensive walking tour of Berlin, taking in the sights of East and West Berlin, Nazi Germany and the effects of the Cold War on the city. Students were treated to a fantastic tour from our guide, Nick who took us through the Brandenburg gate while explaining the origins of the city – apparently built on a swamp! The tour continued with a stop outside the Reichstag building and Topography of Terror, and onto the Memorial for the Murdered Jews of Europe, where students took in the immersive experience of this memorial. We went on to investigate the left-overs of Nazi Germany with the Propaganda and Air ministries, the only Nazi buildings still standing in Berlin before completing our tour at Checkpoint Charlie, the hotspot of the Cold War.

The afternoon brought a visit to the Jewish museum where students were able to examine the history of the Jewish population from the medieval era through to the modern period, including an awe-inspiring exhibition on the Nazi persecution of Jews and the Holocaust.

The following day, students took part in two morning activities; the Berlin Wall Memorial Museum and Berlin Unterwelten (Bunkers). One group explored the Wall Memorial first, walking through the reconstructed ‘death-strip’, now turned into a memorial garden. They were able to see the impact the wall had on the city and on individuals with an excellent display about ‘border houses’ and successful escape attempts. Students also were able to understand how the division of Berlin led to separation of families and friends, witnessing the memorial to the 142 people who lost their lives trying to escape from East to West.

The second group took on the Berlin Unterwelten tour of Second World War and Cold War bunkers. This tour allowed students to explore a WWII shelter that was in operation in Berlin and sheltered citizens throughout the war. Students were taken through an exit into the Berlin subway, taken one stop on a train, and through another secret entrance to explore the nuclear fall-out bunker, which also serves as an operating subway station. They entered through an air-lock chamber before being ushered into the bunker itself, which was built to house 3,339 people for up to two weeks following a nuclear attack. Students experienced another fantastic guided tour where the reality of living through the Cold War hit home.

The evening saw the students welcomed into Berlin’s Reichstag building – home of the German Parliament. Partially burnt down in 1933 and all but destroyed during the Second World War, the building was re-designed with a completely modern interior in the 1990s. Students were able to see how the German parliament works and also witness graffiti left by Russian soldiers during their occupation of Berlin. The tour ended with a roof top visit to the Reichstag Dome, offering amazing views across the city. A great way to finish off the trip!

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Dallam School
Milnthorpe, Cumbria, LA7 7DD
Mr Steven Henneberry
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