The New Zealand Academy of Highland and National Dancing

Highland Dance Company of NZ Germany Trip - Day 7 - 31st Jan 2014

The Highland Dance company awoke to a delicious buffet breakfast that included the usual range as well as the added bonus of hot chocolates. With full tummies and our minds set for today's activities, we ventured out into the bitter cold of Berlin only to find that we just missed our bus. Fortunately for the team the buses ran every 20mins so we were soon back on track. From here we caught a train to meet our tour guides for the Concentration Camp Tour. To our disappointment we missed the Hogwarts express of 9 3/4 but settled for the double decker train on platform 8.

Three trains and two buses later, we arrived at Sachsenhausen Concentration Camp. Our exceptional tour guides explained to us the history behind this camp and incites into how horrifying life at the camp was. Sachsenhausen was set up for mainly political prisoners however was soon used to house Jews and many others. After the WW2 it was also used by the Soviets. It is said that over 200000 men were imprisoned here under the nazi regime.

For us, this experience/ visit can be summed up by one word; Chilling.

Firstly, just walking and being in such a place as this really shakes you to the core. It really contextualises what we have read about in books. actually seeing their conditions and facilities was very shocking.

Secondly, we were exposed to the real cold of Berlin for the first time. With a tempeture of about -5 and a freezing wind, we were struggling to stay warm. For many of us it was the first time we had been in such freezing conditions. On reflection we were also ill prepared and it was decided more layers and better shoes would be needed to endure the weather here in Berlin.
However we found that the cold conditions helped us to grasp one aspect of how horrid it would have been for the men here.

Upon returning to Berlin we headed straight to the mall for some much needed retail therapy to lift our sprits and escape from the cold. Show and tell later, confirmed that many purchases were made. Coats, scarfs and Zara featured heavily.

After eating dinner in the food court, we started our trek home. The first hiccup on the way was when our train stopped at a station for an uncharacteristically long time. We obviously sat in our carriage which had been disconnected as only the front half of the train was continuing on. thankfully we were informed in time. The next issue we faced is that it turns out the the map with the walking route from the station back to hotel lead through a park with was covered in snow as well as the astrics marking the hotel was no where near where the hotel actually is located. in short, we got lost. having walked down a dead end to a rest home, waving down a car for directions and calling the reception twice, finally a hour and a half later we found our way home to the hotel. I have never been more thankful for heating.

Sarah and Nicole

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