GCSE History Trip to Berlin

The slate grey skies closed day one in Berlin. The weary yet intrepid Historians of UCC had literally walked in the footsteps of historical figures. On the first packed and fascinating day we had covered many episodes of modern German history. More was to come....

Day One had started extremely early with a 2am rendezvous in UCC car park and after a stress-free flight we made our way straight to central Berlin. Within a few hundred metres the true extent of Germany's influence on the world could be seen. In many ways the Armistice in 1918 set the scene for future European politics. Our Anglia tour guides introduced the history of the Reichstag; placing the rise of Hitler and National Socialism into context. This was followed by the iconic Brandenburg Gate, and then the memorial to the murdered Jews of Europe. The scene was truly set for our three day visit. After a quick lunch in the beautiful Gendarmenmakt, Gleis (Platform) 17 was our next stop. It was from this unassuming commuter train station that over 50000 Berlin Jews were sent to their deaths at Auschwitz or Theresienstadt. It really questioned the idea that much of the German population were unaware of the deportation and disappearance of the Jews from Berlin. The day ended with a trip to the Allied Museum that commemorated the Soviet Blockade and Allied Airlift into Berlin. The Hotel Andersen awaited with a fine feast and plenty of sleep for the weary party.

Day Two started with an emotional visit to Sachsenhausen Concentration Camp. It is here that over 30000 inmates were murdered by the Nazi soldiers. It is a very moving place to visit and the students conducted themselves superbly and maturely at a very distressing location. From here we went to Wannsee Conference House where the infamous Final Solution was formalised in January 1942. After these fascinating but draining experiences downtime was definitely needed and we lunched near the Sony Centre. In the afternoon, we visited Friedrichstrasse station and the Palace of Tears – this introduced the Cold War and the impact of  building a Berlin Wall to separate the communities of Berlin. Two hours bowling at Schillerpark completed another packed day.

Day three started at the Soviet Karlshorst Museum. It was here that the German army surrendered and effectively ended the Third Reich. It is a beautifully preserved building where the room has been preserved in the state it was when the surrender was signed. After visits to the Stasi Museum, the Berlin Wall at Bernauer Strasse and Checkpoint Charlie we had one last stop at Treptow Park. This was the Memorial to the Russian soldiers who died defeating National Socialism in Berlin. This was a poignant end to a fabulous visit to Berlin. Memories, experiences and friendships made on the visit will last forever. We witnessed evidence of both the glories and detritus of German history.

This was our 10th year anniversary visiting Berlin and Anglia Battlefields provided a magnificent cake to mark the occasion. The staff would like to thank our two tour guides Dan Mills and Ed Church. Dan is more famous for his bestselling book Sniper One that details his time in Iraq where he was awarded a 'Mention in Despatches' for Gallantry in March 2005.  Both of them brought much of the history to life with their insights and expertise. The Humanities Team would also like to thank Mrs O' Brien for her regular updates on the UCC twitter feed. Mr Redmond would like to say a massive thank you to Mrs Rodgers for organising and leading 46 students into a residential trip in one of the largest cities in Europe. It is quite a feat logistically and emotionally; I’m sure the students would like me to thank her on their behalf. The students were superb throughout and showed a maturity well beyond their age. The Humanities staff (Mrs Rodgers, Mr Redmond, Mrs Collins and Mr McQuiggan) would like to congratulate them all. It was quite a tour!  

(Please see the photo gallery for more photos from the trip)