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Berlin and Krakow Visit

On the 20th October 68 students from the Priory Academy LSST and the Priory City of Lincoln Academy set off to visit Berlin and Krakow on a deeply moving and unforgettable trip.

On our first day in Berlin we visited the German History Museum and we went through a brief tour of the early 20th Century in Germany (Weimar Republic and the early Nazis). We saw Nazi propaganda, Hitler’s table and a 100 billion Reichsmark note!

Next we went to the centre of Berlin, seeing the magnificent Reichstag Building and the Brandenburg Gate; it was strange to think this was once part of the ‘iron curtain’ that separated communism from capitalism.

We then visited the 1936 Olympic stadium, which was built by the Nazis. It was immense and imposing, built to resemble the Coliseum, with large statues and plaques to commemorate the winners of key events, including the USA’s Jesse Owens.

Next came a chilling trip to ‘Gleis 17’, the station from which thousands of Berlin’s Jews were deported to ghettos, concentration camps and death camps all over Eastern Europe. Today the site is a memorial to all those who were forcible deported and there were hundreds of white roses left in memoriam. This was followed by a trip to the Wannsee Mansion, the site where Hitler’s aides planned the ‘Final Solution’ to the ‘Jewish problem’.

The next day we visited many of Berlin’s memorials to those targeted by the Holocaust: the murdered Jews, the Roma and Sinti travellers and homosexuals. We then walked to the ‘Topography of Terror’, a fascinating museum about the Nazi regime. We walked past sections of the Berlin Wall to reach Checkpoint Charlie as well as visiting the site of Hitler’s bunker. Our last day in Berlin was topped off with a memorable trip to the Reichstag Dome to see Berlin at night, which was utterly spectacular.

Our time in Poland began with a tour around Jewish areas and synagogues in Krakow. We visited the Galicia Jewish Museum where we learnt about Jewish life and heard a harrowing story from a women born to Jewish parents in a ghetto. We visited the gates of Oskar Schindler’s factory, where he saved 2,000 Jews from death camps, as well as visiting the haunting Krakow Ghetto memorial and the memorial at the site of Plaszow labour camp.

On our next day we arrived at Auschwitz I in the morning and walked under the infamous gates proclaiming ‘Arbeit Macht Frei’ – work sets you free. There is no way I can put into words the weight of what we saw there; seeing the piles of human hair and possessions stolen from prisoners was deeply moving. The afternoon saw a trip to Auschwitz II Birkeneau, the truly huge camp dedicated to the murder of Jews, gypsies and Poles. We then had a short memorial service to commemorate the murdered people and we each lit a candle, which seemed an appropriate manner to end such a harrowing visit.

Overall we all had a fantastic time on the trip, which was both interesting and moving, and I’m sure it will stay with us all for the rest of our lives.

Rhiannon Ackland in Year 11

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