Holocaust Studies Tour, 2024, Day 1

Arriving in Berlin, Getting Familiar with Alexanderplatz

On this first day we gathered everyone from the airport and made our way to our hotel, sitting in the heart of the city – Alexanderplatz. This impressively-sized square was the primary city center of the former East Berlin. Its’ most prominent feature is the towering Fernsehturn, the Soviet-built TV tower built in the late 1960’s made to both invoke Sputnik and to dwarf any similarly-shaped church steeple – a comment on an imagined future, one that bespeaks of the Soviet claim that technology is the true savior of humanity; a realization that they, and not the west, were bold enough to embrace. There was not much we experienced today in terms of a direct connection with our tour’s theme, but we did stop by the East Side Gallery, the Rosenstrasse Protest Memorial and Bebelplatz. Tomorrow we will be able to finish our walking tour of downtown Berlin, taking in such places as the Topography of Terror Museum, The Aktion T4 Memorial, and the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe. Today was mostly about getting everyone to the hotel and learning a bit of our immediate surroundings.

Today was a very strong first day. The students fought through jet-lag well, are wonderfully bonding with each other, already gaining confidence to move about and interact, and (most importantly) asking very good questions. I’m thankful we are off to such a good start.

[The pictures below reflect a sampling of those taken by students, my sister-in-law Juli Barker (who is the other non-student adult traveling with us this year), and myself. Enjoy!]