While it was the United States and the Soviet Union that were the two main parties in the decades-long Cold War, Berlin is seen as having played a pivotal role. The collapse of the Berlin Wall, on 9th November 1989, is widely acknowledged as symbolising the beginning of the end to the war. For students studying modern world history, the Cold War is a topic that will always crop up.
Berlin is a city rich in culture and history, guaranteed to keep your class feeling engaged, enlightened and inspired. If you’re planning a trip to Berlin with your class, here are some of our top tips to make sure you and your pupils have the best time possible.
Where to begin?
There is so much to see and do in Berlin, it can be difficult to know where to begin. However, there are a few essential sites that no educational trip to Berlin is complete without.
The Berlin Wall
The Berlin Wall was not only a divide between East and West Germany, but also came to symbolise the ‘Iron Curtain’ that separated Western Europe and the Eastern Bloc. There are a number of locations where you can take your pupils to see the remains of the wall, with the most popular being the East Side Gallery and Bernauer Strasse.
Museum-Haus am Checkpoint Charlie
The Museum-Haus am Checkpoint Charlie, or Checkpoint Charlie Museum, is named after the now-famous crossing point on the Berlin Wall, and includes stories of those who escaped over, under and through the wall to win their freedom.
The DDR Museum, found in the former governmental district of East Germany, gives visitors an interactive view into what life was really like in Eastern Germany.
A trip to the Stasi Museum will give your pupils a unique understanding of East Germany’s notorious state security ministry and the power it held over those living in East Germany.
The Hohenschönhausen Memorial is a museum and memorial site found in a former Stasi political prison. Visitors will gain an insight into the terrible conditions faced by prisoners in East Germany during the cold war.
What to read?
If you want to make sure your pupils are as engaged as possible on your trip to Berlin, the following is some suggested pre-trip reading.
The Berlin Wall by Frederick Taylor
Since its release, Frederick Taylor’s The Berlin Wall has quickly become a must-read book for anyone wanting an insight into Cold War Berlin. Taylor follows the story of the wall from its construction in 1961, right the way through to its fall in 1989, and the effect it had on those living in Berlin at the time.
The Spy Who Came in from the Cold by John le Carré
When John le Carré released The Spy Who Came in from the Cold in 1963, it was instantly heralded as a revolutionary espionage novel, thanks to its portrayal of the intelligence services of both the Eastern and Western nations. Since its release it has gone on to win a variety of different literary awards.
The Wall Jumper by Peter Schneider
Peter Schneider’s The Wall Jumper is considered by many to be one of the best pieces of Berlin Wall fiction ever written. The novel delves into the lives of a number of characters living on both the Eastern and Western sides of the wall as they try to overcome the various barriers enforced on them at the time.
At WST, we can arrange a school trip to Berlin that will stay with your pupils for years to come, giving them an insight into the fascinating history behind this once divided country. We’ll organise your travel, accommodation, dining and support from our local team of guides while you’re away. Get in touch with the team at WST to find out more or to request a quote.