verrückt mein Kind, du mußt nach Berlin.’- You are crazy, my child. You must go
Franz von Suppe (1800s)
thirty seven years, the Fifth Form Oundle School History trip to Berlin has
been packed with intriguing history, extraordinary experiences and a great deal
of fun and humour. This year was certainly no exception.
Pupil Olly Parker (16) commented, “We
were lucky enough to visit sights from three different eras of German history;
pre 20th century, Weimar and Nazi Germany and the Cold War.
We learnt much about Fredrick the Great and the Hohenzollern family of
Brandenburg-Prussia. We went up the impressive victory column marking
Bismarck’s three great victories over the Danes, French and Austrians, and had
a great view of the surrounding Tiergarten and up the 17th of June Street to
the Brandenburg Gate.”
In East Berlin, the eighty pupils saw the two
churches in Gendarmenmarkt; one built for German nationals and the other for
foreigners to try to draw them into the country. Possibly one of the most
important squares in Berlin is Bebelplatz, which has the Humboldt University
with famous alumni such as Karl Marx, Albert Einstein and the Brothers Grimm,
as well as the copper roofed St Hedwig’s Cathedral and the Berlin Opera House.
It was the site of the 1933 burning of books by the Nazi Party, and to mark
this each year the students have a book fair.
Olly added, “The
Zeughaus Museum was where the early history came to life for me, with a huge
exhibition documenting German history.”
The pupils visited the glass dome of the Reichstag
built by the British architect Norman Foster to display the openness of the new
German Parliament. Nearby they also saw the Jewish memorial positioned on top
of Hitler’s bunker which brought feelings of unease and sorrowfulness. The
Topography of Terror is a modern museum built on what used to be the SS
headquarters displaying the stories of horror under the Nazi regime. The
building is alongside the Luftwaffe headquarters, which ironically, is the only
Reich building not to be bombed by the RAF.
Olly commented, “We spent a morning south west of Berlin visiting Wannesse where the
Final Solution became a reality. It was spine tingling to visit the place
responsible for such a horrific act.
tour of the Olympic stadium, the place of Jesse Owens’ famous 1936 heroics in
front of Hitler and, more recently, where the French football star Zidane
committed his notorious head butt in the 2006 World Cup final, was a real
From 1945 to 1989, Berlin was the centrepiece of
the West versus East stand-off and no place more so than Checkpoint Charlie,
where pupils were told the stories of the East Berliners’ escape attempts, how
tanks stood off barrel to barrel and long and tiresome border crossings.
Pupils also visited Cecilienhof Palace, the site of the Potsdam Conference at
which Berlin and Germany were divided up between Churchill, Stalin and Truman.
They had two very moving and disturbing trips to Hohenschonhausen Prison and Sachsenhausen
concentration camp and heard how the Stasi would try to mentally break down
prisoners. They learnt about Jimmy James and his courageous escape attempts
from Sachsenhausen in WW2, before it was liberated and then used by the
Russians as their concentration camp until 1952.
Olly concluded, “The history was not the
only plus of the trip. We had delicious meals every night and were able to
visit the large Christmas Markets to enjoy the curry wurst on offer and do some
last minute Christmas shopping. But above all, making the trip so special, were
the Oundle History department staff who not only got us all into the right
places for the right time, but also made the trip so engaging and stimulating.”
Information on Oundle School
Oundle School is situated in
the quintessentially English market town of Oundle, about 90 miles north of
London. The School’s buildings, dating from the 17th to the 21st centuries, are
dispersed throughout the town, which is, to a large extent, its campus.
The School’s history dates back
to 1556, when Sir William Laxton, Master of the Worshipful Company of Grocers
and Lord Mayor of London, endowed and re-founded the original Oundle Grammar
School, of which he was a former pupil. In 1876, the Grocer’s Company divided
the School into two parts; Laxton Grammar School, primarily for the inhabitants
of the town, and Oundle School, primarily for pupils from further afield. In
2000, the Grocers’ Company reunited the two schools under the common name of
Oundle School and retained the name of Laxton for the day House.
At the beginning of the 20th
century, Oundle was put firmly on the map of leading English public schools by
its most famous headmaster, F W Sanderson, who established Oundle’s reputation
as one of the great science and engineering schools, a reputation still
renowned today. In 2007, SciTec - a major and ground-breaking new science
complex - opened, housing 16 state-of-the-art laboratories. The School is now
embarking on a large SciTec Campus development project which will see a new Mathematics department constructed adjacent to SciTec as well
as a significant upgrade to the Design and Technology department within the
Patrick Engineering Centre. Due for completion in September 2016, the
development will unite Science, Mathematics, Design, Technology and Engineering
and philosophically, enabling pupils to
move seamlessly from theory to practice and from pure science to the
achievement of a workable technology. A concurrent Sports Masterplan will
upgrade sporting facilities across the School over the next few years,
including a new 1st XI cricket pavilion due to open April 2015.
There are currently 1110 pupils
on roll at Oundle School, with 850 boarders and 250 day pupils. Also within the
Corporation of Oundle School is Laxton Junior School, a day School for children
aged 4 to 11.