A group of 36 fifth form students and 5 members of staff departed Fettes College on the last day of term to travel to Berlin for a 5-day exploration of the key historical sites.
They started their exploration with a visit to Sachsenhausen Concentration Camp on a suitably wet, bleak and cold Berlin morning, wandering around the German Historical Museum where pupils could see the original propaganda posters the Nazis utilised so effectively. They also visited Potsdam and the Cecilienhof Palace, where the final conference of WW2 was held, and re-enacted an exchange of spies on the Gleineker Bridge. They also saw around the Stasi Prison, which contrasts significantly with the kitsch portrayal of the East German regime presented by the DDR museum. Unfortunately, they were not able to access the full tour of the Reichstag; however, they still made the trip up to the Dome on what was a clear evening in Berlin, providing some amazing views across the city. A guided bus tour allowed them to take the 1936 Olympic Games Stadium, where pupils participated in their own 100m sprint final. They also manage to fit in visits to the Treptow Soviet memorial, the site of the burning of the books, a whistle stop look at the East Side Gallery, an interesting 360 degree panorama of the Berlin Wall at Checkpoint Charlie, Checkpoint Charlie itself, the site where the entrance to Hitler’s bunker once stood and the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe.
The pupils themselves were excellent. They were polite, interested, respectful of our guides and inclusive of each other. They asked some great questions really honing their understanding of the history of the twentieth century. It was an incredibly enjoyable experience for staff and pupils alike and I am sure the pupils will reflect positively on it for years to come.