Hazelwood College students visit historic sites of berlin

On Thursday 25th October at 4am, 33 students from Hazelwood College, accompanied by their four teachers, left Dromcollogher for Dublin airport. Despite the early hour and the fact that many of us had got little or no sleep that night, the excitement on the bus was palpable. We arrived in Schonefeld airport, just outside Berlin, at 12.30pm and then travelled by coach to the hostel in which we were staying. As soon as we had dropped off our luggage, we were on our way again.

Our first stop was the museum at Checkpoint Charlie which gave us an interesting insight into the history of the Berlin Wall and the lengths which people went to in order to get to the other side. This included the welding equipment which was used to carry 29 people from east to west. Not all at one time, though that was one question that somebody asked. Following this, we walked to the Reichstag where we were able to walk around inside and climb the top of the large glass dome where we could look across at the city of Berlin. We each received a headset which explained the history of the Reichstag and the surrou-nding buildings.

Bright and early the next morning, we visited the Olympic Stadium where the 1936 Olympic Games and the 2006 World Cup were held. Luke Broderick even got to sit in Angela Merkel’s chair and we saw the VIP box she uses. After this, we departed on a guided walking tour of the city and encountered many famous sights such as Charlottenburg Palace, Brandenburg Gate and the Soviet War Memorial. Some of the boys were taken with the tanks and artillery guns on display! Next we visited the Jewish Museum which is one of the largest Jewish museums in Europe where two millennia of German Jewish history are on display. Some of the pieces were very, very sad, especially the photograph of one woman taken hours before she was arrested and deported to her eventual death. Despite the sombre effect of the museums, everyone was ready after dinner, to go shopping in a nearby shopping plaza.

On Saturday, we visited the remains of the Berlin Wall and continued to the DDR Museum which was an interactive museum which shows the daily life in East Germany. We all got to see a recreation of the cramped apartments that people lived in throughout the old East German period. We also go to try out the Trabi cars, which were partly made of plastic and broke down in bad weather. Our next stop was the famous Berlin Zoo which everyone thoroughly enjoyed. Especially the park! We had more time for shopping that night at the Alexa Shopping Centre.

On our last day, in spite of our exhaustion, we made our way by S-Bahn to Sachsenhausen Concen-tration Camp which was 35 kilometres outside the city. It was a very eerie place, especially standing on the same spot where thousands were executed, or in the cells where political and religious prisoners were kept. This was the last item on our itinerary so we began our long journey home after an extremely enjoyable and interesting trip.