Berlin Trip Posted: 23/06/17
At 3.30am on Sunday 18 June, thirty bleary-eyed Year 10 pupils arrived at Wren Academy, ready to begin their three day adventure to Berlin. This trip has become an annual highlight of the GCSE History calendar, providing our young historians with the opportunity to visit the very heart of Cold War Europe.
After arriving into Berlin, we embarked on a (very hot!) walking tour of the capital, including Brandenburg Gate, Eisenman’s controversial Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe and the Fuhrer Bunker. Pupils reflected on the purpose of memorials and asked thoughtful questions about how country’s ought to remember their past and who should take responsibility for remembrance. Day one ended with a traditional-German meal and a tour of the Reichstag’s glass dome at sunset, granting pupils beautiful views over Berlin.
Our second day was designed to show pupils the dangers of extremism and corruption. In the morning, we visited Sachsenhausen, a concentration camp on the outskirts of Berlin that was initially built to imprison political dissidents and to train Hitler’s SS. By 1943, a gas chamber had been constructed and Sachsenhausen housed notable prisoners, including Stalin’s eldest son and Martin Niemoller. In the afternoon, we visited the Stasi prison, providing Year 10 with the chance to understand the complexities of state-security in communist East Germany. Pupils also visited the DDR museum, where they could sit in a Trabbie, try on the East German fashion and explore daily life and holidays. We spent the evening bowling in Alexanderplatz, allowing pupils time to reflect and wind down.
The final day took us to Cecilienhof, a mock-Tudor palace that was home to the 1945 Potsdam Conference. Pupils toured the rooms where decisions that determined Germany’s future were made and impressed the guides with their understanding of the Cold War. We spent the afternoon exploring the Berlin Wall and Checkpoint Charlie. Needless to say, our Year 10 pupils were exemplary throughout, showing their knowledge with sensitive and thought-provoking questions. After an action-packed three days, we arrived back into Gatwick full of new facts, new friends and a love for Berlin. Thanks to all staff and students who took part – we can’t wait for next year!