The wider curriculum at Worth School is very much proof of the importance the school places on the balance between classroom lessons and learning about life in the broader context. Between 3rd and 5th January a group of 31 Sixth Form historians travelled to Berlin, once capital of the Kingdom of Prussia and Imperial Germany. Director of the Wider Curriculum, Mr Julian Williams talks about this trip for the students, which put an important part of history into context and, he concludes, “I am sure will remain in the minds of our
students for many years to come”…
The city would, on the night of January 30th 1933, find itself at the heart of a new regime – a cruel and callous regime which in just a few short years would have within its grasp the people and nations of Europe, from the Atlantic to the Volga, the Baltic to the Mediterranean. It would become Adolf Hitler’s capital.
But as the Soviet Army crossed the River Spree just 12 years later, destroying the last bastions of Nazism, the peace would soon be replaced by a more sinister worldwide Cold War, with Berlin at its very heart. The city has been the setting for some of the most extraordinary events of the twentieth century.
During our two-day tour we visited Sachsenhausen Concentration Camp, the administrative centre of all Nazi concentration camps and a training centre for SS officers. Other chilling reminders followed with visits to Grunewald Station where 50,000 Berlin Jews were transported from the leafy suburbs of Berlin to the horrors of Auschwitz and other camps in the East.
We then visited the beautiful grand villa on the Wannsee where the horror all began with the conception of the Final Solution and the subsequent genocide of well over six million Jews. In the evening we visited the iconic Brandenburg Gate and toured the striking Reichstag parliament building, ascending to the huge glass dome where we were treated to glorious panoramic night-time views of the capital city.
The following day commenced with a tour of the Olympic Stadium, site of the 2006 World Cup Final, but where, in 1936, the Nazis impressed the world with a huge demonstration of their efficiency and power. These Games turned out to be a propaganda triumph for the Nazis despite the achievements of many black athletes including the great Jesse Owens.
Returning to the city centre we visited the site of Prinz Albrecht Strasse, headquarters of the infamous Gestapo and then fittingly traversed the vast ‘Field of Stalae’ where 2,711 concrete blocks of varying heights stand as a memorial to all the Jewish victims. Finally we crossed the road to the site of the Reich Chancellery and Führer Bunker where, on 30th April 1945, Hitler committed suicide.
This was an incredibly thought-provoking and informative field trip and one that I am sure will remain in the minds of our students for many years to come.