School history trips to other cities around the world immerse students in the destination: its buildings and monuments, its present culture and its history. Essential to any itinerary is at least one museum, where students have a chance to see objects and entire preserved or reconstructed spaces that cannot be seen at school. History trips to Berlin are spoilt for choice where museums are concerned, with highlights including the German Historical Museum, the DDR Museum, the Stasi Museum and the Jewish Museum.
German Historical Museum
The German Historical Museum is a museum of German history in an international context, and one of the most visited museums in the city. It is an essential stop for students on school history trips to Berlin. Its collections include works of art, documents, military items, posters and items from everyday life, spanning Germany’s history. The many thousands of items in the collection will give students an excellent insight into German artistic and material culture, with plenty of opportunities for focused study on aspects of culture – such as propaganda or items from particular periods.
The DDR Museum is an interactive museum in the part of central Berlin that formerly belonged to East Berlin. Most students will know about the city’s divide during the Cold War, but the DDR Museum gives them an insight into everyday life for East Berlin’s citizens. Students can tour a typical prefab estate to see how people lived, look for objects in replicated living spaces, and experience being bugged by a covert listening device. The DDR Museum exemplifies the benefits of school history trips to cities like Berlin by giving students an experience they couldn’t have in the classroom.
Students can continue their exploration of the former East Berlin by visiting the Stasi Museum, which is located in the original headquarters of the Stasi (the Ministry for State Security of East Germany). It explores the political system of the nation and gives young learners a glimpse of what the building was like at the time.
The Jewish Museum in Berlin displays two thousand years of Jewish history in Germany. It begins by describing Jewish life in medieval settlements along the Rhine, and then moves into the early modern period with subjects such as the life of Glickl bas Judah Leib (1646-1724), who wrote of her experiences as a Jewish businesswoman in the city of Hamburg. The museum moves into the modern era with an exhibit about Nazi Germany and the Shoah, and then finishes with the more recent history of the migration of 200,000 Jews to Germany from the former Soviet Union. Visiting the Jewish Museum on school history trips is a valuable way for students to expand their understanding of the long and complex history of Jews in Germany.