That’s a proper trip summary indeed! Ania Wojas, Year 12th student, provided us with a pretty detailed summary of the school trip to Berlin.
(We quote the trip summary in its original form)
“The capital of Germany has many names that portray its spirit. A city that never sleeps with dozens of famous night clubs. A green city with one of the biggest urban parks in Europe. A city that Iggy Pop sings about in The Passenger. But most importantly, it is a city that was shaped by a 20th century. Throughout our trip to Berlin we’ve seen places that witnessed most influential events in the last century. Starting with a Gedächtniskirche on Saturday, and finishing on Topography of Terror on Wednesday, we had a possibility to find out more than what can be read in guide books about the city, and I would like to give you a taste of what we experienced.
The Last Emperor: Gedächtniskirche
After arriving at Brückenstraße where our apartment was located, we decided not to waste such a warm Saturday evening, and take a walk around the city. Our legs brought us to Wittenbergplatz a famous wooden U-Bahn station, dating back to 1902. From this place, we could see a demolished Neo-Romanesque spire on the background of glassy office buildings. It was an old construction of Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church (Gedächtniskirche), damaged in a bombing raid in 1943. It was decided not to renovate the old building, and turn it into a memorial hall: a remainder of what kind of destruction war brings. Creation of a church was initiated by Kaiser Wilhelm II who happened to be the last German emperor, abdicating in 1918.
Weimar Republic: Bundestag
Hoping for a better peace offering after World War I, Second Reich transformed from an empire to a democracy with the abdication of Kaiser Wilhelm II, what gave birth to German parliamentarism and Weimar Republic. The heart of the democracy is in Reichstag, that we had a chance to visit on Wednesday.
Despite classic tour with an audioguide around the dome, on the top of the main building, we had an opportunity to meet one of the members of Bundestag, Alexander Muller, with who we had a discussion concerning german parliamentarism and rise of populistic parties. After answering all our questions, he took us to the plenary session so we could have a little sneak peek.
Nazi Regime: Topography of Terror
After 14 years, democracy collapsed within the appointment of Adolf Hitler as a Reich Chancellor. Soon after that event, the Secret State Police Office, led by Heinrich Himmler, was established with its’ office in the centre of Berlin. In the same building, during Second World War the Reich Security Main Office was located. Right now, on the remains of several buildings, documentation centre is standing, that is trying to spread the information on Nazi terror and its’ consequences after the end of Second World War. We visited Topography of Terror on the Wednesday. The tickets are for free, so the information can reach greater audience. Moreover, in front of the main building, one can follow the site tour in 15 stations, complementing indoor exhibition.
The Berlin Wall: Checkpoint Charlie and Mauermuseum
After the Second World War, Berlin was occupied by four powers: United States, France, Great Britain and Soviet Union, what divided the city into West Berlin (American, British and French sectors) and East Berlin (Soviet). However, within the growing polarisation and aggravation of conflict, the tension was raising until the 1961 when the West Berlin was cut off from the rest of the city. The wall measured 155 kilometres, and had only 11 crossing points, known as check points. Only two of them were open to non-Germans. One of them was Checkpoint Charlie on Friedrichstraße, that is now a memorial of the Wall and main touristic attraction. For us taking a picture with guards wasn’t satisfying enough, so we visited Mauermuseum (Wall Museum), in which we could see original artefacts from successful escapes.”