Life changing History visit to Berlin

February half term saw the Historians of CSIA travel the breadth of Europe to learn about Nazi Germany.

“It was a life changing trip from start to finish for everyone involved” commented Miss Kelen Jones, Head of History. “We started the trip in Berlin, learning all about the Nazi regime. We walked for miles through the city to see important historical sites including the Reichstag building, the Soviet Tiergarten and the Brandenburg gates.”

CSIA at the Reichstag Building.

51 students in Years 10, 11 and 12 attended the 7-day trip along with 4 members of staff. “We visited Checkpoint Charlie which really brought home the challenge Berliners faced to have freedom” said Rhys J in Year 11. “The museum showed the different methods people used to escape into West Berlin like hiding in hollowed out surfboards and even on a tightrope.”

The group also visited the East Side Gallery of political graffiti. “I really enjoyed seeing art and politics face-to-face – the imagery was so provocative and really made you think” said Amelia M, Year 11.

Students in the Garden of Exile at the Jewish Museum.

“We then travelled to Krakow and took a bus trip to Auschwitz, which included a detailed briefing of the Holocaust, the development of the Final Solution and the creation and consequences of Auschwitz” commented Miss Jones. “This was very hard-hitting but our students conducted themselves with the utmost respect and dignity – they were a credit to the school.”

Students walked through the infamous gateway with the signage ‘Arbeit Macht Frei’ and travelled silently around the buildings.

“Rooms filled with the evidence of genocide followed by corridors displaying the faces of the inmates created a thoughtful and reflective atmosphere for us all” commented Miss Jones. “We were given a tour of the purpose-built death camp including the railway, toilet and sleeping blocks, and the memorial at the now demolished crematoria and gas chambers.”

Mr John Ross, Director of Key Stage 5, said “I was very proud of our students who conducted themselves with a decorum and maturity well beyond their years.” After the emotional challenge of Auschwitz, the Camborne Historians relaxed in Krakow city centre and enjoyed the buildings, café culture and market.

Having spent a lot of time investigating the negative impact of the Nazi regime on Jewish culture, it was fitting to end the trip in a restaurant in the Jewish quarter; with a traditional three course Jewish meal whilst being entertained by a traditional Jewish band.

Students at Checkpoint Charlie.

Amber G, Year 11, commented “Our visit to Auschwitz was shocking but it’s so important to learn about the events in our history to carry forward their stories to the next generation so that the truth of what took place can be better understood, and never accepted again.”

“I am delighted that the students have engaged so fully with the academic and social demands of this trip – they have been outstanding” added Miss Jones. “The journey home took 30 hours but was well worth it as music and films were intermixed with conversation, reflection and debate.”

Mr Kenworthy said “It’s vital to give our young people the opportunity to actively engage in some of the darkest moments in history, so that they can pave the way for a brighter future.”

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