Towards the end of March, 26 GCSE and A Level history students visited Berlin, the capital city of Germany. This was to support the students in their understanding of the syllabus on German history in the 1920’s, 30’s and 40’s.
On the first day, we set off from the Academy at 3.30am to catch a 7am flight. We visited East Berlin and saw the Communist architecture of Alexanderplatz and the incredible Fernsehturm (TV tower). We visited the Berliner Dom Cathedral and saw the view from the top of the dome. We then walked to the older buildings of Babelplatz and the Humbolt University.
The second day, we visited West Berlin and the Film Museum at Potsdammerplatz. We then walked to the Jewish Memorial, Brandenburg Gate and then onto the Reichstag. This is an incredible building that tells the story of Germany in the twentieth century - Autocracy under Kaiser Wilhelm II, Democracy in the 1920’s, Totalitarianism in the 1930’s and 40’s and the Cold War to 1989. It is once again the centre of German politics and an icon of the city. We finished the day at site of Hitler’s bunker and then onto the ‘Topography of Terror’ museum, the home of the SS Gestapo in the Nazi era.
Our third day saw us take a coach tour to three sites out of the city centre. First, we visited Sachsenhausen Concentration Camp, then we travelled to the Olympic Stadium, then onto the Wanssee Centre where the final Solution to the ‘Jewish Problem’ was decided in 1942.
The fourth and final day we visited the Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial church and then, finally, we attended the ‘Story of Berlin Museum’. Here, we were taken to a nuclear bunker that was designed to accommodate 3600 people for two weeks in the event of a nuclear explosion during the Cold War.
This was a fascinating visit to an enthralling city. Mr Davidson said, ‘This visit provides a vital element of the curriculum that will embed a higher historical understanding for all students.’