Tuesday, June 14, 2011

From WWII to the Cold War

Today was our first detailed look at the city of Berlin. First, we visited the House of the Wannsee Conference, which was used from 1941 to 1945 by the SS. This is the location in which Hitler and his elite group of men discussed the “final solution” to the “Jewish problem.” It is hard to believe that such a cruel and evil decision could have been made at this beautiful place. This building is now set up like a museum and a memorial so people can be educated on and learn from the decisions that made life as horrible and gruesome as it was for the Jews. While visiting this memorial, we also learned about the Zionist organization that helped Jewish people of all ages immigrate to other countries where they could escape persecution. One of the exhibits displayed quotes from sons and daughters of holocaust victims and SS officers alike. If walls could speak, this one did. One quote that really stuck out to us was from the son of an SS officer: “I try not to think about what horrible things my father could have been involved in.”

The second part of our tour brought us to the Allied museum. Here we learned about the Berlin Airlift. Every 65 seconds, a plane loaded with supplies would land with food, medical supplies, even coal. This was an amazing effort by the Allied forces that overcame the Soviet blockade of Berlin while avoiding a nuclear confrontation. For the first time, we began to understand how World War II led to the Cold War. Also at the museum is the original Checkpoint Charlie—the booth that admitted people into East Germany from the American sector, one of the French planes used during the airlift, and a piece of the Berlin wall. Some of the students watched a sixteen minute video describing in detail the Berlin Airlift. We then arrived at the hotel early, which gave the students ample time to souvenir shop and enjoy some of the local foods.

Posted by Ethan Wilson and Jessica Leyva

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