The History Department’s 2017 Berlin Trip promises to be a fascinating and rewarding experience. We will be looking at Germany’s history through the prism of Berlin’s architecture, memorials and historic sites.
The trip is expected to include a walking tour of central Berlin, the Brandenburg Gate and imperial sites, a tour of the Reichstag, the Topography of Terror Museum, the Sachsenhausen concentration camp, Checkpoint Charlie, the Berlin Wall and Documentation Centre on Bernauerstraße, the Hohenschönhausen Stasi prison (guided by a former inmate), a tour of subterranean Berlin, a Cold War nuclear bunker, the Alexanderplatz and the TV Tower, a showpiece of Soviet architecture. There will also be opportunities for group leisure activities including shopping, bowling and/or film.
We will be looking at various parts of the story of Berlin through its architecture, art and culture above the ground, as well as below it! A few of the highlights include:
The Berlin underground tour. The 19th and early 20th century construction of the Berlin Underground uncovered historic sites which were preserved, and was then adapted during the wars so that it provides an archeological kalaidescope of Germany’s past: cemeteries, air raid shelters, sewers and even an aircraft factory were built under the surface of the city. In the 1950 and 60s Berlin’s underground was extended to include nuclear fallout shelters. To find out more (though it doesn’t reveal too much!), visit the Berliner-Unterwelten website.
The Story of Berlin Museum. This will provide us with a broad narrative sweep of the whole of Berlin’s history, and in particular we will be exploring the Weimar Period through its artistic expression. The museum also includes a unique Cold War underground nuclear bomb shelter.
The Sachsenhousen concentration camp, which was used primarily for political prisoners between 1936 and 1945. Some 30,000 inmates died there from exhaustion, disease, malnutrition, pneumonia, etc. due to the poor living conditions. Many were executed or died as the result of brutal medical experimentation. Most were Soviet prisoners of war. Most of the buildings, with the exception of the crematoria and the extermination facilities, were then used for the same purpose by the Soviet NKVD until 1950. You can find out more about the camp by visiting the website here.
The Berlin-Hohenschönhausen, which is the site of the main political prison of the former East German Communist Ministry of State Security, the Stasi. A former inmate will be taking us on a guided tour of the establishment.
We will be adding to the itinerary and tweaking it as we get closer to the time with our trip partners TBCB travel who helped us organise the Istanbul trip. In addition to this blog we will shortly be setting up a facebook page/group for participants.
If you want to go on this trip, be sure to attend today’s meeting in M233 and collect a letter and reply slip from Dr Matthews.