History Overseas Learning Journey, Germany
On the 27th May, 37 Year 4 History students, led by Mr Teo Joo Cheong, Ms Marilyn Ling and Ms Eileen Lim, embarked on a learning journey to Germany. The 9 Days 8 Nights learning journey was planned by the History Department teachers with the following objectives in mind:
- To experience the rise and fall of Nazi Germany through visits to the important historical sites such as the birth place of the Nazi Party and the site of Hitler’s death.
- To expose students to what lives of political prisoners during the Nazi Regime was like, develop empathy for people, especially the Jews who suffered persecutions and death.
- To appreciate the importance of social cohesion and peace in a country.
- To have a better understanding of the history of the Cold War.
- To broaden students’ horizons and expose them to different culture.
The trip took the students from Munich to Berlin, passing by the cities of Nuremberg, Dresden, and Potsdam on the way to Berlin. Each site visit was a unique experience for the History students as sites which they had learnt from the textbooks, in class lessons, come live before them. Visiting the Ceceleinhof Palace was one such example as it was the site of the Potsdam Conference which some say set the stage for the beginning of the Cold War. At the Berlin Wall, students got to see artwork painted on the wall after the war as an artistic representation of the people’s feelings during the Cold War and many sentiments that people had. The Dachau Memorial Camp gave the students an opportunity to see the actual site of a concentration camp and relive the living conditions of the people who were imprisoned there. The visit connected students in a very real manner to those of the past. The visit to Hitler’s party rally grounds gave students the opportunity to stand at the very spot where Hitler once stood to address his nation. Being able to literally experience what such an infamous historical character once did was an indescribably incredible sensation for them. Through a half day exchange with a local school in Dresden, students were able to have a better understanding of the German schooling system, and their culture.
Nightly debriefing sessions were conducted by the teacher to help consolidate the students’ learning for the day and to ask any questions to further clarify and enhance their understanding of the subject matter. The trip had enabled the students to think more critically about the events in history after hearing the multiple perspectives of history from various guides. Visiting the museums and seeing the different historical monuments come before their eyes had also enabled the students to immerse themselves in history. More importantly, history for all the 37 students has become more real and one that they can all connect to better.
Overall, the trip was an invaluable learning experience which many have benefitted from as evident from the students’ reflections below:
“The trip has enhanced my understanding of Nazism and Post-WWII Germany through the visit to informative museums and historical sites, which is part of out-of-classroom learning. Museums have a wealth of information to enrich us, having text, visuals as well as audio to aid our understanding. They are also more detailed than our textbooks, so this serves as a form of enrichment for us, especially in the case of museums dedicated to explaining Hitler and Nazism. Historical sites allow us to put ourselves in the shoes of those who have experienced the events first hand, aiding our understanding of how the events took place and what impacts it might’ve had on the people. This trip has also enhanced my understanding of Nazism and Post-WWII Germany by allowing me to gain new perspectives on the matter, since we have interacted with Germans, including one which had been imprisoned during the Cold War. These are perspectives that allow a broader insight to matters, instead of sticking to a few perspectives offered in the textbook.”
12Y4D Tay Hsing Rui Cady
“The Dachau Memorial Camp has made the most impact on me. The camp and the memorial site really showed me to what terrible extent the prisoners were being treated. In one of the videos screened they were said to be even worse off than the guards’ dogs because even the dogs were more well-fed than them. Even the words “Arbeit macht frei” on the gates meaning work will set you free was an irony in itself in which work will literally set them free when they die from overworking indicating the kind of harsh labour the prisoners must have carried out. This site was a great reminder of how much the victims of war have suffered and how we should do our best to preserve peace and ensure that no such evil does not occur again.”
12Y4L Grace Chearles Sher Huey