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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 (4.8)
Program No. 16952RJ
Length
9 days
Starts at
3,199
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
3,199
Flights start at
1,100
Program No. 16952 RJ
Prefer to enroll or inquire by phone? 800-454-5768
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DATES & starting prices
PRICES
May 13 - May 21, 2022
Starting at
3,199
Jun 17 - Jun 25, 2022
Starting at
3,199
Sep 9 - Sep 17, 2022
Starting at
3,199
Oct 7 - Oct 15, 2022
Starting at
3,199
DATES & starting prices
PRICES
May 13 - May 21, 2022
Starting at
3,599
Jun 17 - Jun 25, 2022
Starting at
3,599
Sep 9 - Sep 17, 2022
Starting at
3,599
Oct 7 - Oct 15, 2022
Starting at
3,599

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 – followed by a discussion round with a political expert.
  • Meet with an expert on German-American relations at the Allied Museum and discover how enemies became friends.
  • 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 Janet Kempf
Janet Kempf View biography
Janet Kempt studied art history, Spanish and history in Berlin, Madrid and Munich. She has worked in both the curatorial and pedagogical fields of museums since 2006. One of her favorite works of art is Donatello's “Putto with Tambourine” in the Bode Museum, which presents the beginning of the Renaissance in Italy in an extraordinary way.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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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
Arrival in Berlin, Check-in, Orientation, Welcome Dinner
Berlin
D
Maritim proArte Hotel Berlin

Activity note: Hotel check-in from 3:00 p.m. Luggage can be stored at the hotel if you arrive early.

Afternoon: Orientation: 4:30 p.m. The Group Leader will greet everyone with a warm welcome and lead introductions. We will review the up-to-date program schedule and any changes, discuss roles and responsibilities, logistics, safety guidelines, emergency procedures including contact numbers for key staff, and answer any questions you may have. Please note that in Germany it is often expected to pay for using public restrooms with small change; we advise carry 50c pieces with you during field trips. We have set aside some free time in the schedule for your personal independent exploration. Please note that program activities, schedules, and personnel may need to change due to local circumstances. In the event of changes, we will alert you as quickly as possible. Thank you for your understanding.

Dinner: At the hotel restaurant, enjoy a plated meal featuring a starter, main course of meat, fish, or vegetarian options, and dessert, plus a welcome drink and water; other beverages available for purchase.

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 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, the breakfast buffet offers choices such as breakfast meats, egg dishes, fruit, cheese, yogurt, bread, croissants, plus milk, juice, coffee, tea, water.

Morning: Our Group Leader will continue the program introduction as we’re joined by an expert, a local historian, who will give a presentation on Berlin’s problematic past, it’s vibrant present, and potential future. We’ll then board a motorcoach with our 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 local restaurant during the city field trip

Afternoon: Our expert-led field trip continues aboard the motorcoach with stops at key sites.

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: Walking up to 2 miles, extensive standing at Hohenschönhausen and Bundestag and climbing flights of stairs.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet.

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. We’ll have a 2-course plated meal including water; other beverages available for purchase.

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. The group leader will be happy to offer suggestions.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
5
Discover modern Berlin in Kreuzberg and the Jewish Berlin
Berlin
B,L
Maritim proArte Hotel Berlin

Activity note: Walking up to 2 miles, cobblestones, climbing flights of stairs.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet.

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 Berlin. During the division it was faced on three sides by the Berlin wall and after reunification it has gone through a significant gentrification process. We will explore the borough with a local expert and talk about the history and current topics of the borough.

Lunch: At a local restaurant.

Afternoon: We will go by public transport to the Jewish quarter of Berlin and we will have guided walk through Jewish 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: Walking up to 2 miles; cobblestones.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet.

Morning: We will begin the morning with a walk to Museum Island where we will meet 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 and see one of the exhibitions led by the local expert.

Lunch: At a restaurant near the Museum Island we will enjoy a 2-course plated meal with water included; other beverages available for purchase.

Afternoon: Free Time. Take this opportunity to see and do what interests you most. You are welcome to remain and continue exploring the treasures of Museum Island. Please note: The heart of the museum, the Hall of the Pergamon Altar located in the central structure of the building, the North Wing, and gallery of Hellenistic art are closed for renovations. The South Wing, featuring the Market Gate of Miletus, the Ishtar Gate and Processional Way from Babylon, and Museum of Islamic Art remain open during that first phase of the renovation. The plan is to reopen the north wing and Pergamonsaal in 2019. After that, in a second building phase, the south wing will be renovated and the fourth wing built.

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

Evening: 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; walking up to 2 miles, standing around Sanssouci Gardens and the New Palace, climbing stairs.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet.

Morning: We’ll board our motorcoach with a local expert for a field trip to the city of Potsdam, capital of the German federal state of Brandenburg. We’ll also have experts lead us through the palaces. First are the fabulous Sanssouci gardens and a visit to the New Palace, the last great Prussian Baroque palace build by King Frederick the Great starting in the year 1763. Potsdam, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, was the summer home of the Royal Hohenzollern Family since the 17th century. King Frederic the Great was particularly interested in art, architecture, and music and commissioned several palaces, including Sanssouci palace and gardens which means “without a care.”

Lunch: We’ll ride to a local restaurant in Potsdam for a 2-course plated meal with water included; other beverages available for purchase.

Afternoon: We’ll 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 Germany. We’ll then return to Berlin.

Dinner: On your own to enjoy local fare. The group leader will be happy to offer suggestions.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
8
Allied Museum, Free time, Farewell Dinner
Berlin
B,D
Maritim proArte Hotel Berlin

Activity note: Walking up to 2 miles and standing in the museum.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet.

Morning: Learn about how friends became enemies during our field trip via motorcoach to the Allied Museum. First, we will assemble in a room at the museum for a lecture on German-American relations from 1945 to the present by an expert on German-American relations. 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: Take this opportunity for personal independent exploration to see and do what interests you most. Please refer to the list of Free Time Opportunities at the end of the daily schedule. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions and give directions.

Dinner: We’ll take a walk from the hotel to a popular restaurant in the vibrant center of Berlin and enjoy a 3-course plated meal, plus a farewell drink and water; other beverages available for purchase. Share your favorite experiences with new Road Scholar friends.

Evening: At leisure. Say farewell and prepare for departure in the morning.

DAY
9
Program Concludes
In Flight
B

Activity note: Hotel check-out by 12:00 p.m. See the Travel Information section regarding transfers. If you are an independent traveler (POP status), see “Ground Transportation from Last Location.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet. This concludes our program. We hope you enjoy Road Scholar learning adventures and look forward to having you on rewarding programs in the future. Please join our Facebook page and share photos of your program. Visit us at www.facebook.com/rsadventures. Best wishes for all your journeys!






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