With any trip covering Modern Europe, eventually it comes time to deal with some of the horrors of the 20th century. We had already seen the devastation of World War II's Normandy invasion, but on our first full day in Berlin today, we reflected on both the Holocaust and the spread of Communism in Eastern Europe by visiting the Sachsenhausen Concentration Camp memorial and the Memorial to the Berlin Wall.
These excursions today came after we finished our long journey from France yesterday. We left Cologne on a train to Berlin at 11 AM (after a brave few, Hannah, Ally, and myself, made the optional climb to the top of the 500-some steps of Cologne Cathedral to see the entire city and surrounding countryside from above). We spent a good portion of the day on the train, and by the time we arrived in Berlin around 4 PM, we were all exhausted and ready to settle in for the night. After a short dinner, we had the rest of the night to ourselves in the hotel to unwind.
This morning we headed by train first to Oranienburg, which bordered the Sachsenhausen Concentration Camp to the south. After a solemn tour of the camp, we had lunch in Oranienburg and headed back to Berlin for the rest of the day. We got off the train at our next stop, the Berlin Wall. There, we sat and had another seminar: This time discussing the similarities and differences between Fascism and Communism, the ideologies behind the historical sites we saw today. We had quite a productive discussion, and while we concluded that both ended in horrifying consequences, students left being able to distinguish between and define the two.
For the rest of the day, we had some free time to explore the area. We ended the day with a delicious dinner at Zur Letzten Instanz, a charming local restaurant relatively unknown to tourists, which we all really enjoyed. Tomorrow we head to the center of Berlin to see the other major historical sites and experience the historic section of the city!