Thanks to Nat for sharing details of this recent history trip to Berlin and Krakow. Ed
Students from Years 10, 11 and 13 at Ryde Academy recently travelled to Berlin and Krakow on a trip organised by the History Department. This was an exciting opportunity to see history come alive and to visit some of the historical sites the students have learnt about as part of their respective GCSE and A-Level studies.
Berlin was a fantastic city to explore history and culture and students began by visiting the iconic Brandenburg Gate (pictured below), the Reichstag building and dome, the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe, and the German Historical Museum which was packed full of exhibits from the Roman times through to the Berlin Wall.
The Topography of Terror Museum (pictured at the top of the article) was good preparation for the visit to Auschwitz Concentration Camp as it displays images and information about life under the Nazi regime.
Life behind the Berlin Wall
As well as learning about life under Nazi rule students also studied exhibits about life behind the Berlin Wall by visiting the Checkpoint Charlie Museum which was small, but full of fascinating expositions and information about life during the Berlin Wall, including some of the bizarre methods people used to escape from the East to West Germany.
For the first time on this trip students went to the Berlin Wall Memorial on Bernauer Straße, where remains of the original wall still exist as well as one of the guard towers. Another addition to the itinerary was the famous TV Tower which offered spectacular views of Berlin. Students took a high-speed lift to the viewing platform which was 203 metres high!
Students were also given some free time to explore the famous Mall of Berlin, Potsdamer Platz and to visit one of the Christmas markets.
Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camps
After three nights in Berlin, students travelled to Krakow in Poland. The main purpose of this part of the trip was to visit the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camps. This proved to be a challenging but a worthwhile experience. Students spent most of the day exploring both camps. They saw the accommodation blocks and the site where prisoners were executed and were able to walk through one of the remaining gas chambers. What most found particularly moving was walking along the same path that those selected for the gas chamber took.
Students left a crocheted poppy and message at the memorial and took time to contemplate the horror that took place here over 70 years ago. The Auschwitz Museum holds a large collection of items belonging to those who were gassed including spectacles, hair, shoes, luggage and children’s clothes.
Schindler’s Factory Museum
The next stop was a tour of Schindler’s Factory Museum. Here students found out about Oskar Schindler and how he managed to save so many Jewish lives. The museum also informs students about life in Poland between 1918 and 1945, and enabled students to learn about how life changed in Krakow so dramatically in this period.
Students also spent a day looking at Wawel Royal Castle, home to Polish Kings and Presidents. They were able to gain a glimpse of the time when Poland was one of the major powers in Europe. The visit was completed with time in Krakow’s historic town square (Rynek Glowny), shopping and taking in the sights.
Mr Beverley stated:
“All staff were proud of our students and how they coped with the long journey, busy itineraries and emotional experiences on this trip.
“Their maturity and sensitivity was impressive, and they have all developed a detailed insight into German and Polish history, language and culture.”