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Top 7 visits for History students in Berlin

Berlin is a fascinating destination for history students. Despite its status as a buzzing modern city that is young and energetic; by scratching just beneath the surface you’ll discover Berlin’s fascinating modern history.

From iconic landmarks such as the Brandenburg Gate and East Side Gallery to sombre memorials at Sachsenhausen, the city is bursting with rich historical sites that will enhance your student’s classroom studies and broaden their perspective.

So take a look below to find out our top recommended history visits for your next trip to Berlin.

Brandenburg Gate

Whether you are studying history or not, a trip to Berlin would not be complete without a visit to the Brandenburg gate. Built between 1788 and 1791 by Prussian King Frederick William II as a key entry point to the city, the monument has played host to various key events throughout history and through to the present day.

From Hitler’s rise to power in on the evening of 30th January 1933, where the new chancellor led a torchlight procession through Berlin, as thousands of stormtroopers passed under the Gate to the presidential palace. To the end of the war, where much of Berlin was destroyed, but to which the Brandenburg Gate miraculously survived.

The Brandenburg Gate was an iconic backdrop to many pivotal moments in history, so it is a fascinating place to visit for budding history students, covering modules from Nazi Germany to the Cold War.

Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe

Also referred to as The Holocaust Memorial, this imposing place of remembrance is situated in the centre of Berlin close to the Brandenburg Gate. The memorial was opened in 2005 and covers 19,000 square metres of space.

The Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe commemorates the up to six million Jewish victims of the Nazi Holocaust and is also located in Mitte, on a stretch of the former ‘death strip’ where the Wall once stood near Brandenburg Gate.

2711 concrete slabs are positioned on a slight slope to form the shape of a wave, creating a space where visitors can wander among the rows of columns and ponder the topic in their own personal way. Your students will have the opportunity to walk through the memorial at their own pace, with time to discuss the memorials significance and a moment for quiet contemplation.

Sachsenhausen Memorial & Museum

Sachsenhausen Memorial and Museum tells the story of one of the biggest labour camps on German territory from 1936 to 1945.

On 21 March 1933, an empty factory building near Berlin became the first concentration camp in Prussia, now the site of the Sachsenhausen Memorial Centre. During this poignant visit, your students will visit the location where around 200,000 inmates were enslaved and exploited and through the Nazi regime.

A visit to Sachsenhausen will not only enhance your students learning, but it will broaden their perspectives and create powerful memories that will resonate with them forever. The visit will also enable your group to better comprehend the scale of the Holocaust, as well as witness the devastating conditions within the camp.

DDR Museum

The DDR Museum provides a unique visitor experience, engaging all of your senses for an immersive experience of everyday life in the former East Germany.

Exploring a range of key topics from everyday life, to the Berlin Wall and the Stasi, the exhibition encourages visitors to touch, feel and interact, so as to gain a fun and rich understanding of the past. Offering a hand-on experience of historical events, the museum is the perfect place for your students to journey back to the DDR and uncover the realities of life under socialism.

We recommend visiting the DDR Museum for a comprehensive depiction of daily life behind the Berlin Wall, conveniently all under one roof.

Checkpoint Charlie

Located on the corner of Friedrichstraße and Zimmerstraße, Checkpoint Charlie is a reminder of the former border crossing partitioning Berlin during the Cold War.

Historically, the site is significant because from 1961 to 1990 it functioned as the main entry and departing point for journalists and non-German visitors who were allowed to enter East Berlin on a one-day visa. In addition, American and Russian tanks also had a close encounter there in October 1961, a moment which many feared around the world as the possible start of World War III.

The barrier, checkpoint booth, flag and sandbags are all based on the original site; so it is the perfect place for your students to witness a real snapshot of the former border crossing point.

East Side Gallery

Our new sixth form history tours include a visit to see the Berlin Wall at Bernauerstrasse, including a reserved section of the ‘Death Strip’.

From witnessing a GDR soldier jumping the fence at the last second, to those jumping out of windows into sheets held by firemen below; photos and footage of Bernauerstrasse in August 1961 were seen all over the world. Today this historic location is the site of the Berlin Wall Memorial, where the partition of Berlin is remembered, acting as a place of remembrance.

At 1316 metres long, the East Side open-air gallery is also the longest open-air gallery in the world, with more than one hundred paintings on what was once the east side of the wall.

Topography of Terror

As the site of the former headquarters of the Gestapo, SS and RHSA, this insightful exhibition is located at the historical heart of Nazi terror between 1933 and 1945.

This includes the Gestapo, which has its own 'house prison'; as well as illustrating its connections to the SS leadership, the security services of the SS and the main office of the 'Reichssicherheitshauptamt'. Students will be able to visit the site where the persecution and extermination of Nazi political opponents was organised and managed and the genocide of European Jews and Sinti and Roma was coordinated.

The exhibition examines the history of the location, as well as other institutions of terror in the vicinity of the Nazi government district. It is also supported by fifteen information stations, as well as another exhibition that is available outside from spring to autumn, showcasing the remaining exposed cellar walls along Niederkirchnerstraße.

Tailor your trip

All the recommended visits in this blog are included in one or more of our brand new sixth form history itineraries.

If you have not already started planning your next trip, why not take a look new range of itineraries for more inspiration including:

Contact our team of Tour Solvers to get your next Berlin History trip off the ground, or simply request a quote online here.