History School Trips to Berlin, Germany
The city that is modern Germany, where the street still bear the marks of history.
Originating in the 13th century, Berlin became firstly the capital of Prussia and, with the formation of the Germanic Empire in 1871, the capital of Germany. It is now a major world city, recognised as the leader in the promtion of humanities, science, music and finance. It is also a city which is full of history, with iconic sites dating from Martin Luther to the reunification of a divided country.
You’ll uncover a piece of the past with every corner turned. The streets and palaces tell the story of Berlin and Germany’s rise to importance; the public buildings lead students through the First World War and the poignant museums and memorials address the horrors and persecusions of the Nazi era.
Bring history to life
A helping hand from a History Tour Guide.
Expert knowledge, an understanding of your students’ educational and social needs and in-the-field assistance are just three of the benefits of opting for a History Tour Guide. We have carefully selected a handful of guides who specialise in various areas of history including WWI, WWII and the Holocaust.
“Historically superb, spiritually and socially important.”
“I have worked with Rayburn several times and found them utterly efficient, reliable and approachable - this was the case yet again, thank you!”
“A fantastic educational experience that brought to life German history.”
“Planned and executed to perfection.”
“This was a jam-packed, educational tour of Berlin which offered good value for money for the students, and brought their GCSE studies to life.”
What other history teachers thought of Berlin…
100% of our clients said they would recommend a Berlin History Trip with Rayburn Tours to another history teacher, rating their overall touring experience at 4.9 out of 5. Terri Hull from The Bishops High School described Berlin as “the perfect study visit for any student of History.” She went on to say, “whichever way you turn there are legacies to German history everywhere.”
Did you know?
The East Side Gallery is the longest open air gallery in the world and also has the longest surviving stretch of the Berlin Wall at 1,316m? The section was painted by 118 artists from 21 countries with 101 works.
Berlin formerly used to end at the Brandenburg Gate? This historic city limits can still be recognised in a number of places, from street names such as Wallstraße, Mauerstraße, Linienstraße or Palisadenstraße. The former city gates are mainly preserved in U-Bahn station names.
Our quick, online quote form allows our specialists to provide you with a bespoke quotation for a trip tailor-made to your group’s individual requirements.
Berlin Fact File
All secondary school students
Flight or coach
Schönefeld Airport and Tegel Airport
- The formation of Germany
- Imperial German history
- The First World War
- The Weimar Republic
- The Second World War
- The Holocaust
- The Cold War
- The EU and modern Europe
Berlin History Study Visits
Berlin is brimming with visits for students looking to deepen their understanding of WWII, the Holocaust and the Cold War, so much so that it is hard to choose which visits to build in to your tailor-made itinerary. Here you can discover just some of our most highly recommended visits.
Insider Guided Walking Tour
Take the famous walk with the Insider Tours Company. They provide thorough, humorous and informative English speaking guides for a walking tour of all major landmarks making them the perfect choice to introduce history students to this endlessly fascinating capital city.
Students of 20th Century History will learn about the rise and fall of the Nazi regime and the city’s divide by the Berlin Wall. Groups will begin their tour at the Hackescher Markt station. The guide will start by leading the group to the spectacular cathedral and to museum island. You will then take a walk down Unter den Linden to the site of the infamous Nazi book burning ceremony on Bebelplatz before crossing through the intersection of Checkpoint Charlie and the former SS headquarters. Pass over the line of the Death Strip, the exact location above Hitler’s Bunker, through the Memorial for the Murdered Jews of Europe, past the Reichstag Parliament, crowned with Norman Foster’s glass dome, and finish next to the Brandenburg Gate.
This particular walk is a must do for any group and tours can last up to four hours and can be tailored to meet the needs of your group exactly. They can also be focused more specifically on a certain topic area such as Jewish Berlin, Third Reich Berlin or the Cold War. The guides can also be booked for a specific visit such as the Sachsenhausen concentration camp.
These guides come highly recommended by all of our groups and we are pleased to have such a good relationship with them being able to offer you great value tours.
Topography of Terror
This excellent free indoor exhibition opened in May 2010 on the authentic site of the former Gestapo, SS and SA headquarters on Prinz Albrecht Strasse. It contains documents illustrating the terror and crimes of the SS and police during the “Third Reich”.
Students will learn how this deadly military unit managed taskforces, concentration camps and finalised the plans laid out in the Wannsee Conference. They will be visiting an exhibition which differs from many memorials across the city as it focuses on these Nazi perpetrators and the crimes they committed across Europe. A previous smaller outdoor exhibition has now been developed into a detailed indoor exhibition illustrating the terror and crimes of the Nazi era. The exhibit is shown in both German and English displaying many photos, information boards and listening posts. Groups may wish to visit at their own pace or book a guided tour of the exhibition. There is also a current temporary exhibition, ‘Berlin 1933 – The Path to Dictatorship’ which runs until 13th October 2013.
Sachsenhausen Concentration Camp
Located in Oranienburg, a district to the North of the city, the Sachsenhausen Memorial was a Nazi concentration camp from 1936-1945. Today, students can walk through the installations of the camp which are preserved in their original state.
Sachsenhausen was first used to intern political prisoners but later they were joined by Slav prisoners of war and other prisoners considered ‘racially inferior.’ It is thought that between 40,000 and 90,000 prisoners died here. In 1945, the SS removed prisoners to avoid them being liberated by the Russians and thousands died on the so called ‘death march.’
Like many Nazi concentration camps, Sachsenhausen did not close in 1945; instead it became a Soviet disciplinary camp up until March 1950.
There are exhibitions throughout the memorial. A particular exhibit of interest will undoubtedly be the new museum building, which details how the SS stormtroopers formed the concentration camp from a disused brewery and various film clips, artwork and artefacts illustrate the history of the site up to present day memorial. The infirmary barracks is a chilling exhibit detailing the medical experiments and murder suffered by prisoner patients. Groups can hire an audio guide or explore the various points of the camp with their teacher. Alternatively we would very much recommend hiring the Insider Tours guide for this visit.
Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe /
The Underground Information Centre
This prominent German Holocaust Memorial, located close to the Brandenburg Gate, consists of the Field of Stelae and the underground Information Centre. This memorial receives nearly half a million visits each year in remembrance of up to six million Jewish victims of the Holocaust.
Spread over 19,000m², the 2,700 stalae each have a depth of 0.95cm and a width of 2.38m and vary in height. Students can wonder through the concrete Stelae which should provoke much discussion as to the intended interpretation of the site.
The information centre is free of charge and exhibits a chilling and very thought provoking history of the Nazi persecution and execution of Jews across Europe. Various multimedia and lighting effects in the underground exhibit are sure to make a profound impact.
Most school groups choose to visit without a guide but there are audio handsets and guided tours available on request.
After its closure in 1938 by the Nazi regime, the Jewish Museum re-opened as a separate department of the Berlin Museum in 1978, and as an independent institution in 2001. The museum gives students a chance to learn more about German and Jewish history over the last two millennia.
One of the most intriguing things about this visit is the building itself which was designed to give visitors a somewhat “entrapped” feeling. With its cold concrete interior, it only occasionally offers irregular and small views to the outside world through strange incongruous windows.
The exhibitions inside are modern, multi-media presentations into the fate of German-speaking Jews from as far back as 1750. The entire story is gathered together with help from a huge range of documentary material and evidence – from personal photographic collections to paintings to ceremonial objects and furniture. Daniel Liebeskind, who was recognised for his strange architecture, designed the museum, and it is now very popular with both international tourists and the native Berliners.
A guided tour of the ‘Jewish Response to National Socialism’ is a definite must when studying the Holocaust and its impact on the lives of the Jewish population.
House of the Wannsee Conference
Wannsee villa makes for a disturbing backdrop to scenically beautiful surroundings as the location where the chilling final solution to exterminate the Jews of Europe was planned. The museum gives an insight into Nazi politics and methods, ghettos, death camps and life in concentration camps.
In 1992, when the house commemorated 50 years since the conference took place, a memorial site was opened in the villa which is still seen there today over 70 years on. There is a permanent exhibition on display titled “The Wannsee Conference and the Genocide of the European Jews as well as many temporary exhibitions which change on a regular basis.
The villa is best seen with the help of an excellently guided tour, which includes the room where the Wannsee Conference took place. Booking is essential for a free guided or unguided visit.
Checkpoint Charlie was the most well known border crossing point between East and West Berlin and was the scene of many demonstrations and escape attempts. One such event was on 17th August 1962 when after an unsuccessful escape attempt, Peter Fechter was left to bleed to death before the eyes of the world in no-mans land.
Nearby is Haus am Checkpoint Charlie, a museum which documents the history of a divided Germany, the wall and the numerous escape attempts. The museum also contains many original objects such as the original checkpoint sign as well as items used in successful escapes, including converted cars, hot air balloons and kites. Students will no doubt find the stories on display here extremely fascinating.
Did you know that the original Checkpoint Charlie was removed after the German reunion in October 1990? The guard house is actually on display in a museum in Berlin Zehlendorf.
Hohenschönhausen Memorial and former Stasi Prison
This memorial is essential for any student studying the Cold War. Formerly a detainment and transit camp called ‘Special Camp No. 3’, it was founded as a memorial to those politically persecuted under Soviet occupation in 1994. In the former GDR the camp was the central remand prison for the Ministry of State Security.
On arrival, you will be shown to a room in which your group will see a fascinating introductory film. You will then be collected by your guide(s) for an extremely insightful tour of the prison. One of the most intriguing things about the guided tours is that your guide could potentially be a former prisoner of the camp themselves – a truly insightful tour indeed! A fact that shocks most students is the thought that this prison was still active until 1989, only a decade before many of them were born.
Any student who has watched ‘The Lives of Others’ film will be particularly fascinated by this visit.
The Reichstag was built between 1884 and 1894 by Wallot and has been the seat of the German parliament (Bundestag) since 1998. Its iconic glass dome, designed by Sir Norman Foster, is one of the main reasons that this building attracts so many visitors each year, looking to enjoy the spectacular 360˚ views of the city. However, did you know that you can no longer visit the dome of the Reichstag without prior registration?
Beyond the glass dome there is plenty that can be gained from a visit ot the Reichstag. A very informative historical guided tour can be arranged through the building which includes a walk past Angela Merkel’s office and gives you a chance to sit in the balcony seats of the plenary chamber. The roof terrace and glass dome are open until approx 10pm each day so can work as a day or evening activity to fit in with the rest of your bespoke itinerary.
Story of Berlin Museum
The interactive multimedia format of this museum allows visitors to see, hear and smell 800 years of history in under two hours. 23 themed rooms span 6,000 square meters offering students the chance to delve in to the life of the people of Berlin throughout the different eras.
The highlight of this museum is a guided tour through the authentic nuclear bomb shelter, which was built in the 1970s to protect residents against the effects of a nuclear attack. The bunker is situated next to the museum on the Kurfürstendamm and could still be used at any given time if needed.
Whilst the museum can be explored independently, a guided tour can help your students focus on particular eras that connect to their studies, namely the time of the Second World War and the Cold War. For groups who do wish to go it alone, the museum website offers some questionnaires that can be downloaded and handed out to your students prior to their visit.
Berlin Bunker Tour
Explore the underground world of Berlin by booking an underground tour with Berliner Unterwelten. All tours start from their office close to the Gesundbrunnen S-Bahn station. There are a number of tours on offer including the popular ‘Dark Worlds’ tour; a tour through one of the few remaining bunkers from the Second World War will give great insight into the life of Berliners during the airraids whereby 80% of the city’s centre was destroyed. Students will put on their hard hat and explore untouched passages, rooms and artefacts.
For students studying the cause and effects of the Cold War in Berlin, the alternative ‘Subways and bunkers in the Cold War’ is another extremely popular excursion which explains the preparations made for potential nuclear attacks.
The Berlin Wall Memorial and Documentation Centre
The Berlin Wall was the symbol of the Cold War in Europe. It divided families, being a representation of oppression to many and a route to freedom for others. When relations between East and West began to thaw, the wall was literally torn down to make way for a new Europe. At one of the key points of the wall there is now a memorial and the Documentation Centre keeps the records on that dark period.
On 9 November 2014 on the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Wall, a permanent exhibition was opened to explore its history and the people who suffered most by its presence. A visit here addresses the stark reality of a divided Berlin and is a must-see for anyone studying German history and the Cold War era.
The DDR Museum (Deutsche Demokratische Republik) is the history of the Cold War and the dominance of the Soviet Union in Eastern European after the Second World War. This museum presents an insight into the daily life of Germans behind the Iron Curtain, what their homes looked like, what television they watched and how they spent their leisure time.
This cultural and interactive museum draws out some of the quirky stories, as well as helps students to explore the everyday and the difficulties of East Germans’ lives during this short period of history. Although the restrictions and of life in East Germany are covered, the far more brutal elements of East Germany’s Soviet created police state are best explored elsewhere.
Berlin Sample Itineraries
Your bespoke itinerary will include the appropriate balance of educational visits and leisure excursions to fill your chosen duration and meet your aims and objectives. Your dedicated School Tour Coordinator will offer advice and recommendations with the sole aim of creating the perfect itinerary for your group, but just to get you inspired, we have outlined the itineraries created for two of our clients below.
Dates: 14th – 18th February
Departure airport: Manchester Airport
Passengers: 22 students and 3 teachers
Accommodation: The City Lights Hotel
Board Basis: Bed and Breakfast
Overview of visits: The Sachsenhausen Memorial, Soviet Memorial, Frank Meisler Memorial, Platform 17 Memorial, Museum Blindenwerkstatt Otto Weidt, the Flak Tower, the Berlin Bunker tour, the Victory Column, Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe, Cora-Berliner-Straße 1, the Olympic Stadium, the Brandenburg Gate, the Berlin Wall Memorial, the Ghost Stations Exhibition at Nordbahnhof Station, and the House of the Wannsee Conference.
The group travelled by air, on an early morning flight from Manchester into Berlin Schonefeld Airport. This was the start of a much anticipated historical journey for all 25 members of the travelling party. Upon arrival the group travelled by coach to check in at the modern three stars City Lights Hotel, ideally located close to Gesundbrunnen Station. This somewhat more luxurious base, would prove to be a welcome retreat for their planned four night stay. Despite their early start, the group was determined to make the most of their first day, and opted to spend the afternoon at leisure, while taking in the sights and the surroundings of the Brandenburg Gate. The group completed their day with an early evening meal in the vibrant surroundings of the Hard Rock Café!View the full day-by-day itinerary
After a hearty breakfast the group visited the thought provoking Sachsenhausen Memorial; this was accompanied by an audio guided tour. Lunch was enjoyed en-route as their coach travelled onto Treptower Park and the Soviet Memorial, followed by visits to the Frank Meisler and Platform 17 Memorials. The day came to a close with an early evening visit to the small museum Blindenwerkstatt, where students explored the fascinating story of Otto Weidt. With so much to reflect on, and emotions running high, it was apt that the group chose to wind down together by enjoying a three course evening meal at the Hackescher Hof Restaurant, a popular meeting place in this vibrant and bustling city. Arrangements had been made prior to the group arriving for a celebration birthday cake to be presented to a member of the party. This was the perfect end to what had been a jam packed, educational and enlightening day.
The day started with a leisurely walk to the Flak Tower, and a quick stop en-route to take part in the ‘Dark Worlds’ Bunker Tour. Next the group travelled on public transport to the Victory Column, followed by lunch around the Brandenburg Gate and an emotional visit to the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe. A light hearted end to the day was planned as they stepped back in time to dine at the Route 66, 50’s Diner! The remainder of the evening was spent at leisure, discovering the sites, souvenir shopping and of course soaking up the unique atmosphere of this bustling and vibrant capital city.
The last full day for the group and first on the agenda was a visit to the Olympic Stadium, followed by time visiting the Berlin War Memorial and the Ghosts Stations exhibition. There was just enough time for the all important hot chocolate and cake stop, before an evening meal and time at leisure.
After breakfast the group checked out of their hotel and stored their luggage before visiting The House of Wannsee Conference. Their itinerary came to an end, but a journey had been experienced and memories created that would stay with them for a lifetime. The group returned on a mid-afternoon flight to the UK.
Dates: 21st – 24th March
Departure airport: London Heathrow Airport
Passengers: 39 students and 3 teachers
Accommodation: A&O Hostel Mitte
Board Basis: Bed and Breakfast
Overview of visits: Walking Tour of Berlin, Brandenburg Gate, Alexanderplatz, Sachsenhausen Memorial, Olympic Stadium, House of the Wannsee Conference, Topography of Terror Exhibition, Berlin Zoo, Reichstag building and the Gedenkstätte Hohenschönhausen Memorial.
Starting with a 7am flight the group set off on what would be a busy 4 day itinerary! Upon arrival at their hostel luggage was put into storage before embarking on an engaging and informative Insider Walking Tour of Berlin; the perfect introduction to the city’s main historical sites. The tour was brought to a close under the backdrop of the Brandenburg Gate and a welcome opportunity for the group to discover the surrounding area. The group experienced the efficiency of the Berlin public transport system as they travelled on the S-Bahn. Students split off into smaller groups in search of their chosen eatery, and to discover the area at leisure, before returning to their hostel for a much needed nights rest!View the full day-by-day itinerary
After breakfast the group visited the Sachsenhausen Memorial, where they learned of the some 40,000-90,000 prisoners that were thought to have died here.
This was followed by a much less intense experience as they visited the Olympic Stadium, followed by a lunch at the Stadion-Terrassen restaurant located adjacent to the stadium. Eager to pack as much as possible into their itinerary, the group moved on to board their coach for the House of the Wannsee Conference. Here their knowledge and understanding of the final solution to exterminate the Jews of Europe was explored.
There was just enough time at the end of the day for the group to stop back at the hostel, freshen up, before heading out together for an evening meal and time to wind down over a somewhat competitive game of bowling!
The group started their day with the much anticipated visit to the newly refurbished Topography of Terror Exhibition. Here the students were able to engage in what is now a highly informative and interactive exhibit depicting the horrific terror and crimes of the Nazi era. After lunch the group planned a perfectly timed visit to the Berlin Zoo, where they were able to wind down and come close to a host of animals including tigers, pandas and gorillas; a welcome opportunity to relax and reflect after their time at the exhibit only that morning. Next the group took a guided tour of the Reichstag building, where from its glass dome rooftop terrace, breathtaking panoramic views of the city were enjoyed; Berlin by night light, perfect.
Not wanting the day to end here, the group made a quick stop at the hotel to freshen up, before heading back out for an evening meal in the bustling Alexanderplatz area, against a backdrop of its world clock and the second largest structure in Europe – the ‘Fernsehturm’ (TV Tower).
The group rose early to check out of their hotel, in anticipation of the experiences that lay ahead on this the final morning of their tour. The group visited the Gedenkstätte Hohenschönhausen Memorial for a two hour guided tour. This was the main remand prison for the detention of political prisoners in the Soviet occupation zone, authentically presented, many tour guides actually being former prisoners. The prison attracts some 330,000 visitors annually, over half of which are students. This was the final visit of their tour, all that remained was for the group to collect their luggage and head back to the UK on the 14.30 hrs Berlin to London Heathrow flight.
We have a number of hotels and hostels in and around Berlin which are perfectly suited to school groups. Here are just a few of our favourites:
A&O Hostel Mitte
The largest of the A&O hostels in Berlin, the Mitte has 371 rooms and is centrally located to allow easy access to public transport links and all Berlins major attractions. The hostel has a large lounge and TV room as well as karaoke facilities, wi-fi and table football.
A&O Hostel Friedrichshain
This excellently located hostel is situated close to the central inter-city Ostkreuz train station in the popular student district of the city; this provides easy transport links to all of Berlin’s key sites.
“Clean, friendly and helpful. Good variety and quantity of food”
Recently refurbished, this modern hostel has 233 rooms along with a TV lounge, Wi-fi lounge, table football, karaoke facilities as well as a playing field and lawn with volleyball and basketball courts.
Generator Hostel Berlin – Berlin East
The Berlin East has over 890 beds and is located in the centre-east of Berlin. It is ideal for school groups with free wi-fi available in chill-out zones across the hostel as well as a main chill-out area where students can relax and watch TV. Students can be housed in either private triple or quad rooms, twin rooms or communal dorm rooms with shared bathrooms or twins/triple/quads with private bathrooms. All have modern private showers on each floor and there are private rooms for group leaders.
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