On Friday, 13th October, 33 students from Years 10 and 11 and four staff flew to Berlin for a long weekend of cultural enrichment. Our first stop on the Friday afternoon was the Stasi Prison, which gave us a fascinating insight into the workings of the security forces of the GDR. We then transferred to the bright lights of Potsdamer Platz for dinner and some shopping time.
Saturday morning saw us travel out of the city to visit Sachsenhausen, one of
the concentration camps used by the Nazis to incarcerate a wide range of
prisoners, including Jews, political opponents and Soviet prisoners of war. The details of the crimes carried out there were both graphic and shocking, and gave the whole group a lot to reflect upon. In a welcome contrast, we spent the afternoon swinging through the trees at a high ropes park, which was both fantastic fun and a real opportunity for us all to put ourselves out of our comfort zones.
We spent the following day entirely in Berlin, starting with a walking tour of Cold War sites such as Checkpoint Charlies and a chocolate-making workshop at Ritter Sport. Thanks to the glorious weather we were able to picnic in the Tiergarten, before taking the chance to explore the Memorial the Murdered Jews of Europe, and visit the site of Hitler's bunker. We concluded the day with a visit to the Bundestag, where our wonderful guides taught us about both the history of the famous Reichstag building, but also about the architecture and German politics today. Our visit was perfectly timed to finish at sunset, and we all took the chance to get some stunning photos from inside the glass dome that tops the building.
Monday was more relaxing, with a boat trip along the Spree and a trip up to the top of TV Tower to take in the views of the city. By this point we had been made aware that, unfortunately, our flight home had been cancelled, but BA took wonderful care of us, transferring us to a hotel in the Kurfurstendamm area of the city which happened to be right by the ruins of the Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church, which had mostly been destroyed by Allied bombing
during the war. Having seen models of this well-known landmark earlier in the weekend, and having heard about the new church adjacent which has been built with thousands of blue glass bricks, the girls were thrilled to get the opportunity to visit both in real life.
Finally, as we were in the main shopping area of Berlin, we allowed the girls an extra few hours of retail therapy in the evening. It was a tiring but fascinating weekend, and I am reliably informed that the girls had a wonderful time. We very much hope to run this trip again in 2019 so that our next Key Stage 4 cohort have the same opportunity.
Miss Wallace—Deputy Head