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.”
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.
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