A dozen A Level Geography students from Central Sussex College’s Sixth Form Haywards Heath visited Berlin in February to explore the world of Superpower Geographies.
Berlin, with its history of division along the Berlin wall between the Soviet east and the democratic west, was an ideal location for the students to learn more about how large countries and ideologies can clash and how some nations ultimately lose power.
The students visited many of the key locations from this period, including large sections of the remaining wall, Checkpoint Charlie and the iconic Brandenburg Gate, which had once sat marooned in a no-go zone by the wall and is now a busy road junction.
To better understand East Germany, the group visited the DDR museum which gave them hands-on experience behind the wheel of a Trabant car, whilst at the themed restaurant next door they sampled the delights of Vita-cola, the socialist answer to Coke. The visit to the German parliament building, the Bundestag, was a highlight for many students on the trip.
After the tour the students ascended to the Norman Foster designed dome which gave fantastic views across the whole of the city and of the many cranes which dotted the skyline in the old east Berlin and hint at the redevelopment that the city is still undergoing.
However, it was the reminders of a different sort of power that had the most telling impact on the students. A visit to Sachsenhausen, one of the Nazi’s first concentration camps set up in the early1930s, offered a sobering glimpse of what life was like for those who didn’t fit into life under a totalitarian regime.
This was further borne out by a visit to the Holocaust Memorial in central Berlin, which consists of 2,711 concrete slabs spread over a few acres of undulating ground.
The group all had differing interpretations of what the slabs are meant to represent however all agreed that it provided a thought provoking and at time uncomfortable reminder of the enormity of how power is capable of being abused.
Student Charlie Punter, 17, from Burgess Hill, commented, “Berlin is a great city. It was interesting to see the difference in architecture from the east and west sides of where the wall used to lay. Everywhere we visited was very informative, particularly the topography of terror and the DDR museum.”
Ryan Elson, 17, from Haywards Heath, added “The whole trip was brilliant! Berlin is an interesting city in the way that it has merged old parts of the city with vast new areas of development. I found that the visit to the Bundestag to be of most interest as it was my first time in a parliament building and it was good to see the history within the building as well as the way it works as a new piece of design in the city”.
For more information about A Level Geography and other courses on offer at the Sixth Form Haywards Heath visit www.centralsussex.ac.uk/sixthform. Applications are now open for September 2015.
Report and pictures contributed by Central Sussex College.