The Royal Belfast Academical Institution

History/ German Munich Trip October 2023

It was a privilege to travel to Munich and Nuremburg with the History Department. The 34 History A level pupils and their teachers, Mr Woods and Mr Gamble, were able to see at first hand the History of their classroom textbooks with insightful trips
29-November-23
RBAI students visit to Munich 2023

It was a privilege to travel to Munich and Nuremburg with the History Department. The 34 History A level pupils and their teachers, Mr Woods and Mr Gamble, were able to see at first hand the History of their classroom textbooks with insightful trips to the Munich Beer Hall; Dachau Concentration Camp; Munich Olympic Stadium; the Nuremburg Rally Grounds and Nuremburg Trials Memorial. We had also had the opportunity to visit the sites of two of Germany’s biggest success stories with the BMW Museum and Allianz Arena- the home ground of Bayern Munich. While it was wonderful to be once again in a German-speaking country, it was the impeccable conduct; genuine interest and good humour of the boys and staff that made the trip so memorable.

Mrs M Matchett

If you would like to read more about the trip please read the account from Year 13 pupil, Oliver Mercer.

Munich Trip 19-22 October 2023

Recently I, along with 33 other 6th form pupils were able to embark on a four-day trip to the province of Bavaria in Germany. Through this tremendously educational experience I was able to further explore the rich culture and history of Germany.

We experienced a range of aspects of German culture, from visiting the beer halls of Munich to the historical Munich city hall. We were given free reign to explore the Munich Olympic Stadium complex and to see on full display the world-famous efficiency with which all of Germany is built. A personal highlight of the trip was wondering at the technological marvels of the BMW museum; seeing the history of the evolution of cars fascinated me endlessly. It was with particular interest that I visited the exhibit on the history of BMW in Formula 1 racing, with models of a real Formula 1 and Formula E caron display along with a driving suit from Nick Heidfeld.

We also were able to experience the incomprehensible scale of the grand Allianz Arena, with our tour guide taking us through the ultra-modern innovations that go on behind the scenes to make one of the biggest stadiums in Europe run smoothly; we of course were also able to kick about a football for a while. We also spent our Saturday night enjoying the German-made sport of bowling. All in all, I remain a steadfastly great admirer of the German culture and its deep sense of order and efficiency which allow such engineering marvels to be achieved.

As I mentioned earlier, we also visited many historical sites of great significance, and from which I learnt many great lessons that helped to colour the picture of German history that I have been delicately crafting as a history student and to put into perspective some of the more difficult to comprehend statistics that invariably arise when the history of Germany is discussed. We saw the site9 of the announcement of the ’25 Points’ which defined the Nazi ideology and political strategies that would eventually lead them to power, and we saw the siteof the conflict following the Munich Putsch in 1923 when the Nazis first attempted to seize power by force.

However, perhaps the most sombre and poignant moment of the trip was our time in the Dachau Concentration Camp Memorial. To stand in the courtyard11 where so many stood, and where so many fell, was a stark reminder of the chilling horrors of not-so-distant history. It was here that one particular memorial stood out to me, a chain12 encrusted with the infamous triangular markers signifying the so-called ‘Untermensch’ or ‘lesser man’; with different colours denoting alleged ‘crimes against the state’. Red for communists, yellow for members of the Jewish community, among others. Yet one colour was notably absent. Green. Signifying members of the Roma Community. You see, even in 1960 when this memorial was built, the architects were habitually selectively condemning the holocaust and affording exoneration for aspects of one of the most heinous humanitarian catastrophes in all of history.

For a great while this concerned me, it revealed that the hatred that the Nazis exploited still permeated some sects of society, lying dormant like a predator, waiting to strike. But of course, there is hope. Our visit to the Justice Palace13 showed this to me, these people who perpetrated these crimes on an unimaginable scale were not above justice. They were not above that deep-seeded human instinct for what is good and kind and decent, something I imagine could not be said of them.

There remains, of course, those who wish to subvert our freedoms in the modern world. But in the same way, the decency of humanity will prevail when there are those who are willing to stand up to that which runs counter to their intuitive sense of justice and righteousness; and there stands one demographic upon which this burdensome task is laid, upon whom the weary head of democracy may rest. Young people. In the modern day we look to countries like Poland where over 70% of young people aged 18-24 turned up to vote out a government set on the subverting of their freedom and their future, and they won. The populist PiS party will not be able to form a government, so for the time being, human decency has prevailed.

My main take away from the rich history of Germany is this, when the time comes and all that is good and right in the world looks to you for salvation, you cannot afford to stand by and watch. You must be proactive in the pursuance of a better future, of a better world.

Oliver Mercer

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