Day One/Erster Tag
On a sunny Monday afternoon in September, the first group of Roehampton history students arrived in Berlin for the newly inaugurated study trip for second-year students.
On a walk around Unter den Linden, we got a sense for the imperial architecture between the Brandenburg Gate and the Neue Wache, and how the city landscape has been shaped by a history of war, division and reunification.
The centre of Berlin is filled with impressive memorials against war and violence.
It took some time to spot the underground memorial commemorating the burning of ‘unGerman’ books in 1933 at Bebelplatz.
We then immersed ourselves in the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe near the Brandenburg Gate.
The walking tour finished with a visit to the Memorial to the Sinti and Roma Victims of National Socialism next to the Reichstag building. We saw so many different forms of memorial activity on our route around the city.
Day Two/Zweiter Tag
The second day started with a visit to the Bundestag and a tour through the new dome designed by Norman Foster.
At the former SS headquarters, the Topography of Terror exhibition explains the radicalisation of the Holocaust and left a deep impression on the group.
Last remnants of the Berlin Wall keep the legacy of Cold War division alive.
Tucked away in a residential area, the former Stasi headquarters houses a museum that preserves the original office interior of the infamous Stasi head Erich Mielke as it looked on the day East German citizens stormed the building in 1989.
Back in the city centre, the students delved deeper into the history of divided Berlin at Checkpoint Charlie.
After a full day, there was also time to enjoy the area around our hostel near Oranienburger Tor in the heart of Berlin.
Day Three/Dritter Tag
The third day began with a visit to the German Historical Museum that tells German history as inevitably intertwined and wrapped up in the history of Europe.
After some free time in the early afternoon, we reconvened for a visit to the Stasi’s Hohenschoenhausen Prison.
Many of the ‘political prisoner’ cells are still intact and give a deep impression of the prison routine designed to break the inmates psychologically.
Our fantastic guide explained the resources available at the prison for historical research.
Day Four/Vierter Tag
On our last day, the group explored artistic commemorations of the Holocaust in the Jewish Museum.
The Garden of Exile at the Jewish Museum provided a quiet place for reflection.
The study trip clearly reinforced the sense that hate indeed harms the soul.
Our intrepid explorers always had time to socialise at the end of the day.
After four fantastic days in Berlin, the group returned to London departing from the former main East German airport at Schoenefeld.
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