From understanding comes strength
Mrs Moira Paterson-
Mr Billy Bilsland
Mr Paul Mather
Mr Eric Duncanson
Mr Jamie Kavanagh
Mr Niall Bentley
Miss Amy Fraser
Miss Tünde Szombathy
Mrs Hannah Topp
Standard Grade / Int 2 / Higher
Standard Grade / Higher and general interest
After arriving on Thursday the 7th our first tour was of the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe. From a distance it appeared to be row upon row of hundreds of identical blocks of concrete and upon entering it became apparent that the blocks were of varying heights on uneven cobble stones. Rather fittingly it was cold, dark and pouring with rain which added to the unsettling atmosphere within the memorial. There are many interpretations of what the blocks could represent from tomb stones to concentration camp barracks. However, it is for each individual to decide for themselves what the abstract memorial symbolises.
One of the most memorable experiences was our tour of Wannsee -
Sachsenhausen concentration camp had a huge impact on everyone. It was very quiet and extremely cold, not just due to the temperature but also the atmosphere. The camp itself was devoid of life. There was no nature and seeing the vast space really put into perspective the enormous scale on which the Holocaust took place on. An estimated 35,000 people died in this camp. At the camp we were exposed to some hard hitting facts. Many experiments were conducted in such camps. At Sachsenhausen, a company creating a substitute for leather shoe soles forced the prisoners to walk around a circuit all day to test the material’s durability. They walked about 40km every day with no food, water or rest. Just to be standing in a certain spot where you knew for certain that thousands of people had died was a uniquely disturbing feeling. We all agreed that going to a camp like this is something which everyone should experience so they can understand more fully the gross extent of the Nazis war crimes and realise that we cannot let this happen again to anyone, regardless of their race, sexual orientation, nationality, gender, religious or political beliefs.
We also had the opportunity to visit the Jewish Museum in Berlin, designed by Daniel Libeskind. The building itself was a fantastic experience largely due to its incredible architecture. The tour began with a long descent into the basement of the building which was symbolic of the lowest point for Jews in that time period. We also walked around The Garden of Exile which, similar to the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe, was very disorientating despite the regulated layout. Because it is difficult to portray how victims of the Holocaust felt, interactive exhibitions are used to induce possible emotions that they may have felt in such horrific situations.
As well as being an incredibly in depth educational trip, it was also great fun. Walking around the city during the Festival of Lights where colourful images were projected onto famous landmarks was fantastic. In such a modern city there was something historical on every street corner from the Berlin Wall and Check Point Charlie, to the Brandenburg Gate, the Reichstag and Hitler’s Bunker.
By Freya Upton and Sarah Buchan
Advanced Higher Trip To Berlin