Greetings from Germany

Our GCSE History and German students embark on their educational trip to Berlin

    Hi there!

    It's 08:30, and we have just stopped for breakfast at a service station near Garbsen, some 300 kilometres short of Berlin. All of our excited band of travellers have managed at least some sleep - though some may claim otherwise - and we are all grateful for the opportunity to brush our teeth and freshen up, having travelled through France, Belgium, the Netherlands and into Germany since we got off the ferry this morning.

    Mr Barnes was particularly excited to find a Zwiebelmettbrötchen to accompany his Kaffee; though other members of the party expressed their misgivings on the subject, and stuck with more traditional breakfast offerings.

    All is well here. Onwards to Berlin!

    Alles Gute, und viel Spaß!

    At 10:10, this intrepid band of Cold War warriors has just crossed the border from Niedersachsen to Sachsen-Anhalt. We are now on the territory of the former DDR.



    Well, after a tiring twenty or so hours on the road, we have made it!  All the students - and indeed the teachers - are very grateful indeed to have arrived at the hotel, and to have a bit of time to recuperate before heading out to visit the Jewish Museum this afternoon!  The mood is still very high, and we are very excited to be out and exploring the city soon!



    Following a bit of downtime to recover from the journey, we walked around the block to the Jüdisches Museum, which tells the story of the Jewish population of Germany, up to and including their terrible persecution by the Nazis. Not only were the contents of the exhibitions both fascinating and thought-provoking, the building itself was an architectural marvel - designed specifically to disorient and provoke feelings of unease within the visitor. An incredible concept, which worked very cleverly.








    Following our return to the hotel, we adjourned to a nearby Greek restaurant, for a very badly-needed feast! 


    Tag Nummer eins erledigt!

    Guten Morgen aus Berlin!


    Well - I think everyone has slept very well.  Certainly everyone looks better for a hearty buffet breakfast.  If only the same could be said for the tidiness of some of the rooms...

    We have a packed day ahead today, with lots of fascinating Historical sites to visit. On the way out from the hotel, we visited the Bendlerblock, formerly the Oberkommando des Heeres (Army High Command) during the Nazi era, and the execution site of the Wehrmacht officers who had plotted to kill Hitler with a bomb in 1944. A very powerful and arresting  place, the central courtyard of the building is marked with plaques and statuary. The building is now home to a museum about the resistance.




    We'll be watching Valkyrie later.


    On to the next visit now...


    We began our scheduled visits with a trip to the Commonwealth War Graves Cemetery this morning. A graveyard with some 3,600 burials - some 400 of which are still unidentified. A very arresting sight.




    The Olympiastadion was absolutely brilliant. A fun, knowledgeable and amusing guide really helped too. We saw the place from top to bottom, including the team baths and the gilded chapel.

    Don't touch the walls. Certainly don't lick them.



    Well - what a flying visit to some more wonderful sights: we've had a quick walking trip past the Soviet war memorial, the Reichstag and the Brandenburger Tor. The rain has stopped, and the skies are clearing. The teachers have a pretty spectacular coffee and a view of the Hotel Adlon. Winning!


    Our last visit of today was to see Topographie des Terrors - an exhibition about the police mechanisms during the Nazi era, located on the site of the former headquarters of the Gestapo and the SS.



    The exhibition really did not pull its punches in any way, and really addressed the atrocities committed in the name of the regime. This has affected many of our students very deeply, and we have had some extremely profound conversations with the students. Incredible stuff.

    Guten Morgen aus Berlin!


    Up and out early for a packed day ahead. Our first stop was at Gleis (platform) 17 of the Berlin-Grunewald S-Bahn station. Under the Nazi regime, this unassuming platform in a railway freight station was used for the enforced deportation of the Jews of Berlin.



    The deportations are commemorated by iron plates in the surface of the platform - each bearing dates, destinations and numbers. The numbers tot up quickly; over 50,000 over the space of a few years. Destinations begin with names like Riga, Warsaw and £odz. Then the destination becomes Theresienstadt. Thereafter the destination is exclusively - and directly - Auschwitz. Chilling.

    We have just spent an incredible three hours at the KZ Sachsenhausen or concentration camp. With fantastic exhibitions, video installations and real artefacts, this museum and memorial attempts to give some explanation of the inconceivable.



    Such a powerful place. A place for introspection and serious thought.



    Good morning!

    Well - we certainly packed it in yesterday. Following our extremely emotionally draining time at the Sachsenhausen concentration camp, a little light relief was required, so we headed to Potsdam - a very pretty suburb - to explore and do a bit of shopping.



    After an hour or so of retail therapy in the suddenly springlike sunshine, we then headed to the villa at Wannsee where - under Reinhard Heydrich - a conference took place to decide the final fate of the Jews in Europe. It was a beautiful place in a stunning setting, with such a dark secret. On the way there, we also made a brief stop at the Glienicker Brücke, which was the site of spy exchanges between East and West during the Cold War - recently made famous in the Tom Hanks film, Bridge of Spies.



    Finally, it was time for dinner at a traditional German restaurant: a hearty meal of Schnitzel with potatoes and red cabbage was enjoyed by (almost) everyone!

    An earlyish night, before our final long, long day...


    Guten Abend!


    Well - it's about time for another update, and it look like it's going to be one of the last!

    We had a little bit of time to sort out luggage and rooms this morning, before having an adventure on the U-Bahn, S-Bahn and U-Bahn again. Today has been about walking and public transport, as our coach drivers needed to conserve their energies for the long journey back this evening.


    Our first destination was the Stasi Museum, located in the forbidding former headquarters of the DDR's Ministerium für Staatssicherheit.  This museum provided a truly fascinating insight into the trials of daily life for citizens of the DDR - and the lengths that were gone to by the authorities to track and monitor them. The sheer scale of the monitoring and the files maintained on people is simply incomprehensible. Some of the exhibits were chilling. Some were truly ingenious. Some were - frankly - faintly ridiculous. However, they all told a tale of a paranoid society, in which you could trust absolutely nobody.




    Following this brilliant museum, the decision was taken - sorry Mrs Finch - to go straight to the Hackescher Markt for some food, bypassing the Treptower Park. Unfortunately, there haven't been enough hours in this trip to fit in all the cool things that we have wanted to do!  Hackescher Markt provided the students with an opportunity to go off in groups to explore a variety of eateries and practise the German in the phrase books provided by Mr Barnes.


    After lunch, a quick walk past a number of legendary Berlin landmarks, including the breathtaking Berliner Dom and a great view of the Fernsehturm on Alexanderplatz, as well as the site of the Nazi book-burning on Bebelplatz - commemorated by the extraordinarily powerful monument of an empty bookcase. Very moving.


    A quick pit-stop at the Ampelmann store (the little green man telling you when to cross the road has moved from being a road sign to a cultural icon), and then to the Tränenpalast (Palace of Tears), which served as the border crossing checkpoint at the Friedrichstraße railway station. This exhibition showed the daily struggle for people who wanted to get from one side of Berlin to the other on a daily basis - with some heart-rending tales of separation for families and teenaged sweethearts.


    A quick train ride to Zoologischer Garten, where we regained the coach, and we have now left Berlin, en route home.


    We'd all like to take this opportunity to thank Mrs Finch for organising such a wonderful trip. We have had a fantastic time, forged new friendships, and learned so much about the history of this incredible  multifaceted city. Thank you, Mrs Finch!





    Owned by: LDN | Last Published: 13/03/2017 09:56:43 | Next Update: N/A


Greetings from Germany


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