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16952
Germany

Berlin: Two Pasts, One Present

Immerse yourself in Cold War history in Berlin while learning about the Bundestag, speaking with Berliners about reunification and discovering cultural monuments like the Berlin Wall.
Rating (4.67)
Program No. 16952RJ
Length
9 days
Starts at
3,599
Flights start at
1,100
Germany

Berlin: Two Pasts, One Present

Immerse yourself in Cold War history in Berlin while learning about the Bundestag, speaking with Berliners about reunification and discovering cultural monuments like the Berlin Wall.
Length
9 days
Starts at
3,599
Flights start at
1,100
Length
9 days
Rating (4.67)
Starts at
3,599
Flights start at
1,100
Program No. 16952RJ

Your well-being is our #1 priority

To make your experience as safe as possible, we require all participants to be fully vaccinated. See our Safety Roadmap

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Price will update based on selection
Prices displayed below are based on per person,doubleoccupancy.
DATES & starting prices
PRICES
May 12 - May 20, 2023
Starting at
3,599
Jun 16 - Jun 24, 2023
Starting at
3,599
Sep 8 - Sep 16, 2023
Starting at
3,599
Oct 6 - Oct 14, 2023
Starting at
3,599
DATES & starting prices
PRICES
May 12 - May 20, 2023
Starting at
4,039
Jun 16 - Jun 24, 2023
Starting at
4,039
Sep 8 - Sep 16, 2023
Starting at
4,039
Oct 6 - Oct 14, 2023
Starting at
4,039

At a Glance

In November of 1989 the Cold War tensions were beginning to thaw. With the Tiananmen Square protest and the democratic elections of Eastern Europe fresh in their minds, the leaders of East Berlin’s Communist Party announced it was finally time to put an end of the Berlin Wall. Almost instantly, thousands of German citizens flooded the streets, shouting “Tor auf!” (“Open the gate!”) until the wall tumbled down and loved ones were reunited for the first time since 1945. Alongside experts, experience the living memory of a divided city that is once again united as a cultural and political power of Europe. Delve deep into the political life and mentality of modern Germany with political and historical experts as you remember and reflect on this important time in world history.
Activity Level
Keep the Pace
Walking up to two miles per day on mostly flat city sidewalks. Standing for up to 1.5 hours a day. Stairs in historic buildings. Use of public transportation. Some program days may require walking up to three miles in a day.
Small Group
Small Group
Love to learn and explore in a small-group setting? These adventures offer small, personal experiences with groups of 13 to 24 participants.

Best of all, you’ll…

  • Venture behind the scenes of German politics during a field trip to the Reichstag building - the seat of German Bundestag.
  • Meet with an expert on German-American relations at the Allied Museum.
  • Experience an excursion to Sanssouci Gardens and the New Palace — the representational Baroque palace of Frederick the Great, King of Prussia.

General Notes

Program includes independent time to explore the city and several meals on your own. Group Leaders will provide directions for self-directed excursions. Suggestions for free-time activities provided in preparatory materials.
Featured Expert
All Experts
Profile Image
Burkhard Heyl
Burkhard Heyl has performed in films, television and radio play productions both internationally and in his home country of Germany. He studied acting at the Folkwang School in Essen, Germany, and has authored numerous screenplays and short stories. A decorated excursion leader, Burkhard accompanies explorers on highly personalized adventures through Berlin and Potsdam while sharing his expertise and passion for the region’s history.

Please note: This expert may not be available for every date of this program.

Profile Image of Burkhard Heyl
Burkhard Heyl View biography
Burkhard Heyl has performed in films, television and radio play productions both internationally and in his home country of Germany. He studied acting at the Folkwang School in Essen, Germany, and has authored numerous screenplays and short stories. A decorated excursion leader, Burkhard accompanies explorers on highly personalized adventures through Berlin and Potsdam while sharing his expertise and passion for the region’s history.
Profile Image of Wolf Refardt
Wolf Refardt View biography
An expert on the military history of the 19th and 20th centuries, Wolf Refardt enjoys sharing his knowledge during his lectures and classes on the events of the Cold War. Wolf has published papers on themes that range from Sepulchral culture in enlightened absolutism to the development of public welfare in Brandenburg, and to the history of battles that took place during World War II.
Profile Image of Andrea Mehrländer
Andrea Mehrländer View biography
Andrea is Berlin native and has been working as Executive Director of the Academy of Transatlantic Academic Studies since 2014. She studied History, English, Sociology and Psychology and received her Ph.D. from Ruhr-Universität Bochum. Andrea has taught American Studies at Martin-Luther-Universität and served as Executive Director at Checkpoint Charlie Foundation, where she successfully raised 1.7 million euros for ongoing projects. Andrea is also a historical consultant for American movie productions and has consulted for the films like Pearl Harbor and National Treasure: Book of Secrets.
Profile Image of Ulrich Brückner
Ulrich Brückner View biography
Ulrich Brückner studied political science, German literature and history at the University of Würzburg and the Freie Universität Berlin. He specialized in European integration and his PhD thesis focused on the role of the European Commission in the policy-making of the EU. He has been a lecturer at the Freie Universität Berlin, Szczecin University and an active member of the European Union’s Jean Monnet Programme. His current fields of interests are institutional developments in the EU, external affairs and Eastward enlargement.
Profile Image of Vera Blumenthal
Vera Blumenthal View biography
Vera Blumenthal studied Egyptology and Classical Archeology at the Humboldt University of Berlin where she obtained her PhD degree with a thesis about the Egyptian Old Kingdom. For more than twenty years, she has worked as a freelancer for the Berlin State Museums, concentrating more and more on cultural education. She is an expert in the history and architecture of Museum Island at Berlin and one of the founders of the agency ARIADNE, specializing on organizing high quality group education in the museums of Berlin.
Visit the Road Scholar Bookshop
You can find many of the books we recommend at the Road Scholar store on bookshop.org, a website that supports local bookstores.
March Violets
by Philip Kerr
Freelance detective Bernie Gunther works on the mean streets of 1930s Berlin, where Nazi excesses are never far from the surface.
Berlin Now: The Rise of the City and the Fall of the Wall
by Peter Schneider
Over the last five decades, no other city has changed more than Berlin. Divided in 1961, reunited in 1989, it has morphed over the last twenty-five years into Europe's most vibrant melting-pot of artists, immigrants and entrepreneurs. Pieces of the wall are collected around the world. Blending memoir, history, anecdote and reportage, this legendary Berliner takes us behind the scenes - from wrenching stories of life under the Stasi, to the difference between East and West Berliners' sex-lives, to a present-day investigation of its arts scene, night-life, tumultuous politics and hidden quirks - revealing what makes Berlin the uniquely fascinating place it is.
The Berlin Wall Story
by Hans-Hermann Hertle
Where did the Berlin Wall actually stand? Why was it built? How did people keep managing to escape across it – and how many died in the attempt? Why did it come down in the end? Numerous previously unknown photographs document the construction of this barrier system of barbed wire, alarm fences and concrete. Spectacular escape stories and shocking deaths are chronicled here in words and images, as are the dramatic events surrounding the construction and the fall of the Wall. A stunning survey of the Berlin Wall – the central symbol of the Cold War.
Book of Clouds
by Chloe Aridjis
Chloe Aridjis's beautifully evocative novel is set in today's Berlin; a young Mexican woman flees her family only to find a city that cannot escape its past.
Germany: Memories of a Nation
by Neil MacGregor
From Neil MacGregor, the author of A History of the World in 100 Objects, this is a view of Germany like no otherFor the past 140 years, Germany has been the central power in continental Europe. Twenty-five years ago a new German state came into being. How much do we really understand this new Germany, and how do its people now understand themselves?
Five Germanys I have known
by Fritz Stern
The "German question" haunts the modern world: How could so civilized a nation be responsible for the greatest horror in Western history? In this unusual fusion of personal memoir and history, the celebrated scholar Fritz Stern refracts the question through the prism of his own life.
The Innocent
by Ian McEwan
After England, the cold war Berlin of 1955 is like no place Leonard Markham has ever experienced: surreal, complex and dangerous.
Alone in Berlin
by Hans Fallada
In 1940, in the heart of Hitler's capital, Otto and Anna Quangel are alone in Berlin with a breathtaking campaign of resistance.
Stasiland
by Anna Funder
Not surprisingly the fall of the Berlin Wall caused panic at the Stasi headquarters, as described in Anna Funder's riveting portrait of East Germany's secret police and how it controlled a nation.
Berlin: Imagine a City
by Rory MacLean
A city devastated by Allied bombs, divided by a Wall, then reunited and reborn, Berlin today resonates with the echo of lives lived, dreams realised and evils executed. No other city has repeatedly been so powerful and fallen so low. And few other cities have been so shaped and defined by individual imaginations. Through vivid portraits spanning five centuries, Rory MacLean reveals the varied and rich history of Berlin, from its brightest to its darkest moments. We encounter an ambitious prostitute refashioning herself as a princess, a Scottish mercenary fighting for the Prussian Army, Marlene Dietrich flaunting her sexuality and Hitler fantasising about the mega-city Germania. The result is a uniquely imaginative biography of one of the world's most volatile yet creative cities.
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9 days
8 nights
14 meals
7 B 5 L 2 D
DAY
1
In Transit to Program
In Flight
DAY
2
Arrive Berlin, Check-in, Orientation, Welcome Dinner
Berlin
D
Maritim proArte Hotel Berlin

Activity note: Hotel check-in available from 3:00 p.m. Luggage can be stored at the hotel if you arrive early. Remember to bring your nametag (sent previously).

Afternoon: Orientation: 4:30 p.m. in the hotel meeting room. The Group Leader will greet everyone and lead introductions. We will review the up-to-date program schedule, discuss roles and responsibilities, logistics, safety guidelines, emergency procedures, and answer questions. We will review COVID-19 protocols and will adhere to applicable requirements and guidelines throughout the program. Please note that in Germany it is often expected to pay for using public restrooms with small change; we advise to carry 50c pieces with you during field trips. Periods in the schedule designated as “Free time” and “At leisure” offer opportunities to do what you like and make your experience even more meaningful and memorable according to your personal preferences. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions. Program activities, schedules, personnel, and indicated distances or times may change due to local circumstances/conditions. In the event of changes, we will alert you as quickly as possible. Thank you for your understanding.

Dinner: At the hotel restaurant.

Evening: At leisure. Continue getting to know your fellow Road Scholars, settle in, and get a good night’s rest for the day ahead.

DAY
3
Berlin Past-Present-Future, City Motorcoach Field Trip
Berlin
B,L
Maritim proArte Hotel Berlin

Activity note: Getting on/off a motorcoach several times; short walks to and standing at field trip sites; cobblestones. The specific sites seen during our motorcoach field trip will depend on schedules and local conditions at the time of the program.

Breakfast: In the hotel dining room.

Morning: A local historian will join us to give a presentation on Berlin’s problematic past, its vibrant present, and potential future. We’ll then board a motorcoach with another expert for a field trip to see some of the city’s highlights including the Berlin Wall Monument, Checkpoint Charlie, Gendarmenmarkt Square with the restored Konzerthaus and the French and German churches, Paris Square and the Brandenburg Gate, the Reichstag, Holocaust Memorial, Potsdamer Square (the new and old), Memorial Church, and new architecture.

Lunch: At a pleasant spot during our field trip, we’ll stop and have packed lunches.

Afternoon: Our expert-led field trip continues aboard the motorcoach with stops at key sites. Upon our return to the hotel, we’ll adjourn for the day.

Dinner: This meal has been excluded from the program cost and is on your own to enjoy what you like. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
4
Hohenschönhausen Memorial, Bundestag
Berlin
B,L
Maritim proArte Hotel Berlin

Activity note: Getting on/off a motorcoach. Walking up to 2 miles; extensive standing at Hohenschönhausen and Bundestag and climbing flights of stairs.

Breakfast: At the hotel.

Morning: We will board the motorcoach for a field trip to the Berlin-Hohenschönhausen Memorial. In 1945, the building was converted into a Soviet Secret Police prison for detention and interrogation in East Germany. In 1951, the East German Ministry of State Security (Stasi) took over the prison, added a new prison building in 1961 and, until 1989, used the site as its main remand center. Thousands of political prisoners passed through this jail, including nearly all the prominent figures opposing the GDR regime. The site formed a kind of headquarters of communist repression in East Germany.

Lunch: We will take the motorcoach back to the city and have lunch at a restaurant near the Bundestag.

Afternoon: We will take a walking field trip this afternoon to one of the city’s most famous landmarks, the former Reichstag building that is now the seat of the Deutscher Bundestag, the German Federal Parliament. As we see and appreciate the magnificent architecture, we will also learn more about Germany’s turbulent political past — and that mysterious 1933 fire! — before ascending to the recently rebuilt glass cupola. From here, you can enjoy spectacular views of the parliamentary and government district and Berlin’s sights. We’ll then have an opportunity to venture behind the scenes of German politics and discuss current issues with a political expert.

Dinner: On your own to enjoy local fare.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
5
Kreuzberg, Jewish Quarter
Berlin
B,L
Maritim proArte Hotel Berlin

Activity note: Getting on/off public transportation. Walking up to 2 miles, cobblestones, climbing flights of stairs.

Breakfast: At the hotel.

Morning: We will ride by public transport to Kreuzberg – a borough of Berlin – to explore the modern day Berlin. Kreuzberg has developed from one of the poorest boroughs of West Berlin to a cultural and artistic hotspot of the city. During the division, it was faced on three sides by the Berlin Wall; after reunification, it went through a significant gentrification process. We will explore the borough with a local expert and learn about the history and current topics of the borough.

Lunch: We will take the motorcoach to eat at a local restaurant.

Afternoon: We will continue our expert-led walk through the Jewish quarter of Berlin.

Dinner: On your own to enjoy what you like and sample local fare.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
6
Museum Island, Free Time, Performance
Berlin
B,L
Maritim proArte Hotel Berlin

Activity note: Getting on/off a motorcoach. Walking up to 2 miles; cobblestones. Walking and other free time activities according to personal choice.

Breakfast: At the hotel.

Morning: We will begin the morning with a lecture by a knowledgeable local expert who will introduce the history of Berlin's famous Museum Island. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Museum Island complex is home to five internationally acclaimed museums. After the lecture, we will go to Museum Island by motorcoach and see one of the exhibitions led by the local expert.

Lunch: At a restaurant near Museum Island.

Afternoon: Free time. You are welcome to remain and continue exploring the treasures of Museum Island.

Dinner: On your own to enjoy what you like and sample local fare.

Evening: We will attend an evening performance.

DAY
7
Potsdam, Sanssouci Gardens, New Palace, Cecilienhof Palace
Berlin
B,L
Maritim proArte Hotel Berlin

Activity note: Getting on/off a motorcoach; driving about 50 miles, approximately 4-5 hours riding time with short stops along the way (not including the expert-led walks and lunch); walking up to 2 miles, standing around Sanssouci Gardens and the New Palace, climbing stairs.

Breakfast: At the hotel.

Morning: Our morning field trip via motorcoach takes us to Potsdam and the amazing Sanssouci Palace that has been called the “Prussian Versailles” for its magnificent architecture, rich decoration, beautifully landscaped gardens, and lavish waterworks. An expert will lead our exploration of the splendid park surrounding the palace that served as Frederick the Great’s summer residence and relaxing getaway from the protocol of his royal court in Berlin. Sanssouci means without concern, i.e., carefree, in French. It was built from 1745-47 above a terraced vineyard following the King's own ideas and sketches. The palace is considered a major work of Rococo architecture in Germany.

Lunch: At a local restaurant.

Afternoon: We’ll take the motorcoach and continue our explorations at the Cecilienhof Palace, the last palace built by the ruling Hohenzollern family from 1914-17 for Crown Prince William and his wife, Cecilie von Mecklenburg-Schwerin. World history was forged when Allied leaders Truman, Churchill, and Stalin met here for the Potsdam Conference in 1945 to discuss the partition of Germany. We’ll then return to Berlin.

Dinner: On your own to enjoy local fare.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
8
Allied Museum, Free Time
Berlin
B,D
Maritim proArte Hotel Berlin

Activity note: Getting on/off a motorcoach. Walking up to 2 miles and standing in the museum. Walking and other free time activities according to personal choice.

Breakfast: At the hotel.

Morning: We will learn about how friends became enemies during a field trip via motorcoach to the Allied Museum. First, we’ll assemble in a room at the museum for a lecture on German-American relations from 1945 to the present by an expert. After this, our expert will lead us through the exhibition. Dedicated to the 50-year Allied presence in Berlin, we will explore the museum's permanent exhibits with a focus on the large-scale objects such as the Hastings plane, the French military train and the original Checkpoint Charlie. We also check out the espionage tunnel of "Operation Gold". We'll then return to the city center.

Lunch: On your own.

Afternoon: Free time.

Dinner: We’ll take a walk from the hotel to a popular restaurant in the vibrant center. Share favorite experiences and enjoy camaraderie with new Road Scholar friends during our farewell dinner.

Evening: At leisure. Prepare for check-out and departure in the morning.

DAY
9
Program Concludes
In Flight
B

Activity note: Hotel check-out by 12:00 Noon. See your program’s “Transportation Information” regarding transfers.

Breakfast: At the hotel. This concludes our program.

Morning: If you are returning home, safe travels. If you are staying on independently, have a wonderful time. If you are transferring to another Road Scholar program, detailed instructions are included in your Information Packet for that program. We hope you enjoy Road Scholar learning adventures and look forward to having you on rewarding programs in the future. Don’t forget to join our Facebook page and follow us on Instagram. Best wishes for all your journeys!






Important registration tip:
If you want to attend the live lecture, please do not wait until the last minute to enroll.
If you enroll after a lecture is complete, we’ll send you a recording of the event.