Absorbing the heritage of Nuremberg

It was an early wake up this morning after our first night in Velburg, Germany. The boys got stuck into the splendid buffet and were on the bus by 8. Majority of the boys caught up on lost sleep whilst Hans Pieter drove us to Nuremberg.

Here, we were greeted by our tour guide for the day, Anya. Anya explained the significance of this at least 1050 year old, sandstone landmark. She also told us some of her funny childhood experiences of the castle which were at the expense of tourist like us. It was very interesting to explore the castle. We had tours of the watchtower, the well and the chapel.

After about 2 hours in the castle, Anya took the group down into the streets of Nuremberg. This city was one of the most severely damaged cities in Germany during WW2. Personally, I found it amazing how the locals were able to preserve their artistic culture throughout several allied attacks. Rebuilt buildings were erected in the same Sandstone colour that the town has been forever.

We continued to walk down the backstreets of a well-cultured Nuremberg until we reached the town square, where we would eat lunch.
The teachers gave the boys just over an hour to explore the square and find food. I went with a small group to try the traditional Nuremberg sausages, that Anya had raved about – which were fantastic. Most other people browsed the markets, which resulted in many presents bought for the mothers.

We travelled a few centuries forward in time, and began a bus sightseeing tour with Anya after lunch. We drove around Nuremberg with endless insight into the cities history from our guide. The two most important places we visited were the Nuremberg courthouse and Hitler’s rally grounds. We were confronted once again by the atrocities committed by the Nazi party. We finished our day at Nuremberg with a visit to the ‘Documentation Centre Nazi Party Rally Grounds’. Here we learnt about the rise of the Nazi party, propaganda and particularly the herd mentality that Hitler created. This was exemplified in the replica coliseum that he began to construct for German rallies.

We returned via Bus to the beautiful, small town of Velburg. Several boys walked 2 minutes down the road to the local football fields, where we divided into a football game and an NFL game. This was much needed exercise after some humungous Eastern European meals. We returned to our rooms of 2 for showers and to get ready for dinner.

Dinner was just as we expected. Big. In fact, for the main each boy was served an entire cooked chicken! After dessert and some history presentations, the year 9’s played some UNO, the year 10’s played poker, and the year 11’s played a mandatory game of Mafia, where several more relationships were damaged. I think it can be confirmed that we are addicted to Mafia. We ally then returned to our rooms, some did some washing, but most didn’t, and went to sleep.

29th of September Velburg/Nuremberg

By Connor Eldridge & Bailey Thompson

Czeching Out

Lucas Greenslade and Rhys Hatten

– – – – – Lucas is having a bit of trouble with his account, so I’ve posted this with mine. He wrote it a few days ago. Sorry again for the lack of photos. The internet’s been pretty sketchy for most of this week.

Today the largest event was the bus ride from Prague to Velburg. Before checking out and leaving our hotels this morning at 11, we had some free time which most people used for shopping. We then got on the bus and began our journey to Velburg, playing games such as Mafia or Uno to pass the time.

After about 2 hours we arrived at Pilsen, a small, almost empty town still in the Czech Republic. There we had an hour long lunch break, with everyone excepet a small group of people getting back on time. As a result of this group, most people had to wait an extra 20 minutes before they got on the bus.

Nonetheless we got back on the bus after a long lunch break and eventually arrived around 5. Because we had so much time before dinner we all played soccer at a nearby park until it started to get dark, after which we had dinner. After dinner we had a surprise quiz on all of the most significant events and moments of the tour, with an extra bonus round on the best “tour guide joke” to decide the winner. ‘Hatton’s Heroes’ took out the night.

Czech Yourself Before You Wreck Yourself Soviet Union

Hallloooo

Despite past controversial wake up times set by the teachers, surprisingly enough we were able to wake up at a “leisurely” 8:05 am for an 8:15 breakfast. After a bit of banter and a few rushed showers from the lads, our group was able to head off with our Czech tour guide and driver Hans Pieter, on a tour of the beautiful Czech Republic. We began with a scenic route of Prague, which was made somewhat enjoyable by our comedic and enthusiastic tour guide. However, on reflection it appeared as myself (Nick) and Mr Fisher discussed, that the tour guide was running off a known script rather than relating to us as students. Overall though, we were able to take some amazing photos, have some good banter and view an amazing city from incredible vantage points (including Wenceslas square and Prague castle).

After our 3-hour tour, we were provided free time at Wenceslas Square(we think that’s what it’s called) where Ewan and a number of students are chips, potatoes, sausages and babufka(a traditional Czech meal). As well as having a scrumptious lunch, a few of us visited a Czech sex museum, which was quite intriguing.

Later in the day at round 2:00pm, our group visited the ‘Communist Museum’ near Wenceslas Square which was one of the most interesting exhibitions thus far. We learnt about the foundations and ideologies of communism within the communist state of Czechoslovakia and also about the Velvet Revolution, which divorced the Soviet Union (and communism) from Czechoslovakia. A number of the boys bought souvenirs, especially communist books which would aid them in their schooling endeavours.
At 5:30 we had dinner at an original Czech restaurant where we enjoyed a scrumptious three course meal including: Tuna salad, Chicken skewers with potatoes and peas, and lastly cinnamon pancakes (quote from Ms Christian “they were amazing”).

A number of us, including Christian and I, had to rush off to meet the 7pm deadline for the Opera in Prague. The theatre was breathtaking, as many of us had never witnessed such an incredible Opera theatre, as well as the class that embodied the theatre. In our opinion, the opera titled “Carmen”, was exquisite and quite enjoyable, and it was a special experience for the birthday boy, Alex Goth, who suggested in seeing it and enjoyed it immensely.

Lastly, a number of the year 11 boys stayed up in room 412 for some intense ‘Mafia’ play. To say the least, friendships were broken as two members of the group (one in a powerful leadership position and the other who doesn’t deserve recognition) cheated and the broke the moral code of Mafia. This ended with Max McKay sitting by himself at breakfast the next morning feeling guilty and upset with his actions the night before.

By Nick Jackson and Christian Maini

From Kraków To Prague

A wake up this morning saw us ready for a long day of movement. The bus trip to Prague was around 8 hours, and many of us were excited to see the countryside but were apprehensive about the length of the trip. It is a shame to see Kraków go, but it will be interesting when we arrive in Prague , to see the difference in culture that a few kilometres can create.

Along the way, about 6 hours in, we stopped at a small Czech village. The village seemed like Australia to some, and many of the boys were excited at the cheap prices at the supermarket. The town was home to a cult-like ossuary, that Mr Fisher had visited in the past. It was extremely interesting to see thousands of bones from the past, mainly those of Black Plague victims. Presented in this light, it is interesting to note that whilst this place sounds macabre, it was in fact quite a holy and beautiful place, highlighting the inevitable cycle of human life. This comes from the fact that the bones are themselves presented pleasantly – in huge mounds, as chandeliers, and as a coat of arms.

Later we saw a cathedral, and Jack jacobs fell in love upon first sight with the most beautiful woman he had ever seen.

Regards,

Max McKay, Jacob Turl.

A Krak-ing (sic) Day, no?

The day was wet and cold, mirroring the feelings of the Polish people during the 125 years they weren’t on the map of Europe. However, once we entered the cathedrals of Poland, such as the Gothic Holy Cross Chapel, the atmosphere became warm and cozy symbolizing the stubborn Polish spirit that cannot be crushed, no? Someone pointed out that the visitors to the cathedrals had a very wide age gap, however it was only from both the age extremes that visitors came. Primary school children and pensioners, no?

We once again enjoyed Lunch in the square filled with pretzel stands, dodgy kebab stores, breakdancing pensioners and moving statues. We then caught a bus to the Jewish quarter called Kazimierz and explored the intelligence behind Jewish architecture and some scenes from Schindler’s List. Carrying on with the theme of Schindler’s List we visited a museum that used to be Schindler’s Factory. Where we were once again in the warmth however this time surrounded by a much wider variety of ages, no? After an inspirational speech from the guide about humanity in humane times we were given some tips about experiencing certain parts of Polish culture.

Today served the purpose of enlightening us, teaching us about the suffering and history of the Polish people, the suffering and history of the Jewish people and how that suffering and history became one.

Ashutosh Bidkar and Rhys Watkins

The Camps of Auschwitz

The Camps of Auschwitz

A rather grim, daunting and eye opening day for all of the boys, saw us visit the true horror which was the largest Nazi extermination camp known as Auschwitz. While you hear stories, experiences and even see photos of the shocking conditions of the camp, you cannot truly grasp the sheer terror which millions of Jews were forced to endure. To start of the day we visited the first of three camps – Auschwitz I – Which was the first of all the concentration camps; with its prime function being to house political prisoners, Polish POW’s [Prisoners of War]. later Auschwitz I expanded its borders to house gas chambers, which were capable of killing 700 people per day. The extermination faculty of Auschwitz I was much less predominant than Auschwitz II, but nonetheless; the crimes committed were just as inhumane. Conditions were appalling with scarcity of supplies for prisoners as well as limited facilities. The impression left on the boys by the first camp alone granted us insight into the extremely horrific capabilities of mankind, but it was nothing compared to what we were about to witness.

When we progressed to Auschwitz II, otherwise known as Birkenau, the sheer scale of the camp was intimidating enough, without even going into detail of the processes which occurred within. From one side of the camp, it seemed as though it was endless and your best indication to the opposite end was where you could see the receded tree line. Auschwitz II – Birkenau, is approximately 20x larger than Auschwitz I and contained 4 larger and more developed gas chambers and crematoriums. When the final solution, in relation to the Jewish population came into play, the capabilities of Auschwitz I were inferior in comparison to the capabilities of Auschwitz II. Having 4 larger gas chambers Auschwitz II had the ability to murder up to 2000 prisoners per cycle; the whole process taking only 48 hours.

To bring to end what was a disturbing reality of our history, and to brighten the mood of the boys, we were given the opportunity to immerse ourselves within the Polish culture. The town square of Krakow, roughly 100 square meters bursting with culture, stalls, entertainers, art, not to mention the limitless history in every nook and cranny, allowed us to appreciate the world as it is today and how much is taken for granted. To follow up on that, we were given a privileged and relaxing opportunity to have a fun game of football within the park opposite our hotel, where boys were unwind after a confronting day of history.

Cruising to Krakow

 

Upon boarding  Hans Peter’s bus to leave Berlin, I think a lot of the boys weren’t prepared for the gruelling nature of the 7 hour drive ahead of them. This drive, of course, was to reach Krakow, Poland.

 

Our first stop on the journey through the Prussian countryside was at a small service station surrounded by complementary restaurants – bearing comparisons to Goulburn in NSW. The most interesting element of this stop was a small, single roomed building with ‘HOT FUN’ and a neon ’24 HOUR’ sign sprawled across the front and side of the structure. To myself and nick at least, this was somewhat of a welcome to Poland, letting us know that we were well and truly out of the Berlin city centre. The lunch was a true Polish lunch of sausages, pickles and bread, and for many of the boys this was a long antidisestablishmentarian relief after a long gruelling bus ride.

 

During the second leg of our journey the boys passed the time through two ways. The first, a several hour long session of Mafia – a card game taught to us by Max McKay. The game was unfair because I, Nick Jackson, kept dying first. The second was far more exciting however, involving the playing of hits from the 00’s like ‘You Belong With Me’, ‘Love Generation’ and ‘Forever Young’. This was unanimously enjoyed and lasted the last few hours of the trip.

 

Following the gruelling trip, we arrived at Poland’s Salt Mines. For many of the boys, myself included, this was one of the more surreal experiences – with the mine extending well over 1.5km into the ground.

 

Our guide’s monotone, droning voice was countered, by his deadpan delivery of jokes with punchlines like, “smoking kills”, “he sketched the last supper, I guess it was his last”, and “don’t drop coins in the fountain, I have done it many times and I am still not the owner of the mine”.

 

This was a welcome sideshow to often overwhelming underground chapels, statues and lifts – all of which were unlike anything the boys had ever seen. It was easy to lose yourself in each new section of the mine, forgetting you were underground at all.

 

After meeting back up with Hans Peter and travelling to our new hotel, we quickly ate, and slept. For the lads, these two events blurred to one after an exhausting day of driving, singing and exploring. We were now in Krakow.

From the East to the West

After havieingang_h2_1ng breakfast at the H2 hotel in Berlin we set out on foot to go and visit two significant museums, the Pergamon Museum and the Jewish Museum. The first of our stops was the Pergamon Museum which covered a background of ancient hellenistic and architectural artworks and sculptures. It houses many
ancient pieces of middle eastern artefacts that have been unearthed in modern times.

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Once we had concluded our visit to the Pergamon Museum we stopped off at Holocaust Memorial, Hitlers death location and a shopping centre. The Holocaust Memorial made up of 2,711 concrete pillars with an anti graffiti coating symbolises the distraught history of the Jews. Hitlers death point had no major significance to it as now it is only a car park this was because they didn’t want Hitler to be praised in any sort of way . Our final stop before the next museum was the Mall of Berlin in which we were allocated 2 hours of free time.

Our final stop was at the Jewish Museum. The museum was made up of two main centres, one of a modern facade and the other of an older style facade. The newer style building was designed to symbolise the positive and negative encounters that the Jewish people went through. We covered the museum through a guided tour which explain how the jewish people were not considered German citizens and were seen as inferior to the Germans.

After we had finished our tour at the Jewish museum we divided ourselves into two groups. One of which would visit the longest remain part of the Berlin wall which is now a graffiti art gallery and the other would visit a football game between Bertha and Köln.

Berlin-Wall

By Edward M and Jack R.

 

The One Wall to Rule Them All

After a buffet breakfast consisting of many plates of meatballs, scrambled eggs and even cake, we were taken on a guided Cold War tour with the same guide from yesterday ( Michael ). To start the tour we were taken to one of the few remaining sectors of the Berlin wall. After a presentation from Alex and Ewan, we headed up to take an aerial view of the remaining wall, before learning of the many attempts to escape Eastern Berlin. We then took a look at the tribute to those who died during the tyranny of the wall, in the memorial on what used to be the “death strip.”
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We now moved on to the Brandenburg Gate, the symbol of Berlin and Germany. The gate was actually trapped in the death strip during the Cold War and acted as an image of how futile this war was, as the gate could no longer serve its purpose. The gate itself is also surrounded by many embassies of the major world powers, such as the US, French and Russia.

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We soon headed off to Checkpoint Charlie, a small white guardhouse in the middle of the bustling metropolitan surroundings.  Checkpoint Charlie served as the only gateway between East and West Berlin during the Cold War period and became an icon in October 1961 when the Soviet and American tanks faced off on either side of the checkpoint. We were then given some free time and some of us were lucky enough to enjoy a currywurst.

For our final session of the day, we attended the Stasi museum. The museum itself was once the headquarters of the East Berlin spy organisation, an operation that was extremely powerful during its time, using methods of torture, imprisonment and informants to protect communism and eliminate its opponents. The Stasi were given interesting advantages in an ‘equal,’ society and their existence formed a culture of distrust between the Eastern Berliners.

All in all, it was a very interesting and informative day, with us learning a lot of information (mainly focused around the Cold War) that will be incredibly useful in our future studies. It has been a very enjoyable tour so far and all the boys are in good spirits and looking forward to the days to come.

Matt Britt and Zak Knight

 

Blogging to Berlin (19/9/15-20/9/15)

imageWe’re all currently checked in safe and sound (and tired) at H2 Hotel here in Berlin. After saying our goodbyes, we flew on the 14 hour Etihad flight 455 to Abu Dhabi- luckily a brand new A380! However, halfway through the flight we were diverted to Kuala Lumpur on account of a lady falling ill (or as some boys suggested, getting caught with a dog on board).

After finally arriving in the German capital – having been in transit for about 30 hours – we met up with our guide for the next 3 days, Michael. With him we worked our way through several Third Reich related sites, cumulating in visiting the Topography of Terror Museum.