Portlaoise students see German history first hand in Berlin

Portlaoise students see German history first hand in Berlin

Leaving Cert history students at Scoil Chríost Rí in Portlaoise took their first overseas History trip this year, to a country that has a dark and complex past.

Following recent successful trips to Belfast and Derry last year, the group went one better this year and headed to Germany.

Their three day visit began with a guided tour of Berlin city, ascending to the top of the famous Berlin TV Tower at night, a symbol of the old East German regime which offered spectacular views of the city.

The next morning saw the girls visit Sachsenhausen concentration camp, the headquarters of the Nazi’s Holocaust administration.

“Over 200,000 opponents of Adolf Hitler’s policies perished at the camp located just under an hour from the city, and the visit was deeply poignant for the students who got to see the conditions inflicted on Jews and other minority groups in the early 1940s,” said their teacher Tom Moss, one of five to accompany the group.

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Next was the Berlin Olympiastadion, site of Hitler’s 1936 Olympic Games which were designed as a propaganda campaign for the superiority of the Germans but were upstaged by black US athlete Jesse Owens.

The night was completed by a visit to the German government, the spectacular Reichstag buildings where the students climbed to the top of the glass dome that overlooks the city.

Visits to the Berlin Wall Memorial, Checkpoint Charlie and the fascinating Story of Berlin Museum completed the historical aspect of the trip, which was rounded off by a shopping trip to the Mall of Berlin.

“The tour provided the students with a first-hand experience of a central part of the Leaving Cert History course and was thoroughly enjoyed by all the girls,” said Mr Moss.

The number of students taking History at Senior Cycle in the school has increased steadily in recent years, with almost 100 girls taking the subject in 5th and 6th year this year.