Year 12 and 13 history trip to Berlin and Krakow

Students from Hucknall Sixth Form Centre’s year 12 and 13 history groups have recently returned from an educational visit to Berlin and Krakow. The trip provided students with an enlightening and poignant experience, seeing and hearing first-hand some of the devastating history these two cities have suffered, putting into context the learning they are doing in the classroom.

On their return students have spent time capturing their thoughts and reflections from the visit.

Day one of the trip was spent in Germany’s capital, Berlin. Student Immani captured how this part of their trip linked so closely to their current studies:

“Visiting the Olympic Stadium allowed the whole class to piece together just how important propaganda was to Hitler’s support as a political figure. Although many people in the 21st Century find it hard to imagine how Hitler ever got into power and was able to carry out the atrocities he did, the slump within Germany after the First World War and the democratic instability of the time, meant that seeing the grandeur of the stadium in person allowed us to see why people rooted for him. Hitler constantly reinforced an image of greatness in Germany through his propaganda, giving the German public something to be proud of after their hardships.

Visiting the Wannsee Conference gave us access to an abundance of information useful for our exams, from official Nazi paperwork to interactive videos, explaining the events of the Holocaust and accounts from Holocaust survivors themselves. Being where the Wannsee Conference took place was an eerie experience – the building on the lakeside was undoubtedly beautiful but being at the location where the Nazis discussed the final solution, an event that would change the course of history forever, was harrowing.”

Whilst in Berlin students also visited Platform 17, the departure point for over 50,000 people sent to the concentration camps in the east. Mason reflected on its significance:

“This trip gave us a chilling insight into the brutal events that unfolded in Europe, as we travelled the path of thousands of those persecuted. It gave us a perspective on the scale of suffering and struggles experienced, from the awful living conditions in the ghettos through to the unimaginable journey they were forced to make.”

The trip then moved on to Krakow and Auschwitz in Poland. George shared his thoughts and the effect the visit had on him:

“Auschwitz – Birkenau was an unforgettable experience. Walking on the foundations of barracks that once sheltered 220 thousand famished and persecuted men, women and children, fearfully awaiting their deaths. Reading about the holocaust in a textbook makes it a conceptual and an imaginary historical phenomenon. Visiting Auschwitz – Birkenau reifies the whole situation. Seeing the false pretence of “Arbeit Macht Frei” (work sets you free) on the gate, meeting a holocaust survivor and walking inside a gas chamber brought all of these horrors to life and provided an insight into the mechanisation and industrialisation of genocide. The bus trip back into Krakow was the most silent journey I’ve ever been on.”

On the final day in Krakow, students had the opportunity to visit Schindler’s factory. Alex reflected:

“Visiting Schindler’s factory was a fantastically enriching experience. We heard about the effect of the Nazi invasion upon the daily lives of the Polish people and the risks Oskar Schindler took to save hundreds of lives, before ending the tour learning how the Polish Nazi government was replaced by the newly imposed USSR regime. I found the examination of the ghettoization, which destroyed so many livelihoods, a harrowing insight.”

This education visit created many indelible memories for our students, through the various activities, sights and people they met, a true opportunity to experience new cultures, new countries and new languages.

To the sixth form staff who organised the trip they would like to say “Dziękuję”!

Queen Elizabeth’s Academy