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    Over half term, a group of KS4 pupils, Mr Brown and Mrs Roberts spent three days exploring Berlin and taking in some of the sights that the city has to offer. On the first day we walked from our hotel in the district of Kreuzberg, up to Potsdamer Platz where we were able to see the new Berlin – glass and high-rise, on a site which was flattened during the war and remained a wasteland during the years of division. We walked further up to the Holocaust Memorial by Peter Eisenman, a huge field of stelae which draws you in until suddenly you are surrounded by high concrete on all sides. Everyone agreed that it was a strange and disorientating experience. Further on were the Reichstag government building and one of the Soviet war memorials in Berlin, flanked with tanks. We stopped by the Brandenburg Gate for group photos – well, you have to! After a break for a well-deserved Kaffee und Kuchen we continued up Unter den Linden, past Bebelplatz, where we saw the memorial to the book-burning, and spent an hour or so in the German Historical Museum. Afterwards we walked to Alexanderplatz for lunch. We travelled by train to the East Side Gallery, which is the longest preserved section of the Berlin Wall and a gallery of street art.

    On Tuesday we began our day at the DDR Museum, where we learned about life in the GDR (East Germany) and were able to sit in a Trabant, a typical East German Plattenbau flat, and a Stasi punishment cell. Some of these things were more fun than others. We then went to have a look at Checkpoint Charlie, the site of a stand-off between American and Soviet tanks in 1961. From there we took a train up to Bernauer Strasse where we saw a reconstruction of the Wall and were able to visit an exhibition about Bernauer Strasse, where the Wall went along one side of the street and, in fact, through a residential building. Later on, we visited the Jewish Museum where some pupils learned about the Jewish experience under National Socialism and other pupils found out about the foundation of the state of Israel. In the evening, after dinner at the Hofbräuhaus, where all the waiters were wearing Lederhosen, we visited the dome of the Reichstag, which gives fantastic panoramic views of the city at night.

    On Wednesday morning we were able to have a more relaxed morning. We took a train to Kufürstendamm and, while some pupils visited the Kaiser-Wilhelm Gedächtniskirche, which was badly bombed during the war and remains in its bombed state as a symbol of the destruction of war, others succumbed to the lure of the shops, especially KaDeWe, Berlin’s answer to Harrod’s and Fortnum and Mason combined. Later on, we had a ride out of the city centre to the Soviet War Memorial at Treptower Park, before returning to the hotel for our baggage and setting off to the airport.

    It was a fantastic few days. We walked miles – everybody’s fitbits pretty much exploded- we saw many different historical monuments, learned more about German history -and some people even practised their German! I hope everyone enjoyed it as much as I did – and that everyone managed to catch up on sleep when we got back!