History students from Farlington visit Berlin

Farlington pupils at the Brandenburg Gate, Berlin SUS-150622-105855001
Farlington pupils at the Brandenburg Gate, Berlin SUS-150622-105855001

30 historians from Farlington School took a three-day trip to Berlin, accompanied by Mrs Boyce, Mrs Ravenscroft and Mr Cronin.

The purpose of the trip was to investigate the element of the GCSE History syllabus on life in Nazi Germany.

The first outing was an historical sight-seeing tour of central Berlin. The tour guide, Brian, was not only a German speaker, but he had also lived in East Berlin during the Cold War and had some exciting tales to share.

The girls visited the Neue Wache sculpture and saw the Burning of the Books memorial which, ironically, had an interactive exhibition of free books and bean bags to sit on. After visiting the Brandenburg Gate which demonstrated Prussian military prowess, and the Tiergarten, the students saw the Soviet War Memorial.

On Saturday, the girls from Years 9 to 11 visited Sachsenhausen concentration camp, which was a humbling experience. The Olympic stadium helped us imagine a more positive aspect of the syllabus – Jesse Owens winning four gold medals in the showcase 1936 Berlin Olympic Games for the Nazis.

This was where the torch procession was used for the first time as a tool of propaganda. The last stop of the day was the Wannsee Villa, site of the Wannsee ‘final solution’ conference organised by Eichmann and Heydrich.

On Sunday, the historians set off for the Jewish Museum. Designed by Daniel Lieberman, a student of the holocaust memorial architect Peter Eisenman, it has a dynamic and industrial impact set against the blossom trees of its surrounding garden. The exhibition and tour enlightened us about deteriorating status of the Jews, from the boycott, to the stripping of their citizenship in the Nuremburg Laws, and finally transportation from concentration to death camps.

Berlin is a modern city, steeped in history. Its mix of modern architectural ideas and remembrance has a unique appeal, whilst its leafy sprawling city which does not block out the skyline is engaging and inspiring, embracing the ideologies of east and west of yesterday. Studying the Nazi regime and buildings brings the syllabus to life.

The Farlington girls also got the mix between learning, showing respect and enjoying the modern city of Berlin just right and were complimented on their impeccable behaviour and being superb ambassadors for British students in Berlin.

Report and picture contributed by Farlington School.