This is my last (required) blog post for the World War Two Study tour as I am now in Berlin; I can’t believe the trip has gone by so quickly!

Being in Berlin has been an amazing experience thus far; I’m sad that I only have tomorrow (Sunday) and Monday left with the group!

Culturally, Berlin has been a learning experience.  As opposed to Paris or London, I haven’t been in as many places where I have felt rushed or in an area with overwhelming numbers of people (of course, I’ve been in some relatively busy areas, but none of them have ever felt quite as crowded).  Everything also feels much newer than any of the other places I have been in; this contextually makes quite a bit of sense because of Berlin’s history, especially in relation to the Cold War and the Second World War because so much was destroyed.  Being on the Reichstag and seeing all the cranes building new things added on to the idea that something new is constantly coming up here.

Going off this, it was interesting to see the history of Potsdamer Platz.  I saw a lot of photos with descriptions in one of the subway stations; though Potsdamer is now a major commercial area of the city, this was not really the case until recently because so much of it was destroyed during the Second World War (it had previously been a bustling area in the 1920s).  This explains why everything is so new and modern.

The amount of English spoken also surprised me a little.  While I wasn’t worried about being able to get what I needed in Berlin, I was surprised that I seemed to be greeted in English more than I was greeted in German.

Considering other aspects of Berlin’s culture, I find Germany’s remembrance of its events within everyday life to be interesting as well as humbling.  The Holocaust remembrance stones, for example, were not thrown at my face; neither were other monuments and signs all over the city.  Their presence, though, was still enough to remind me of what happened; hopefully these reminders are still very visible to those that live in Berlin day in and day out.

Today, we went to Sachenhausen.  It was difficult for me because I ultimately was not sure of how I should feel: feeling sad about it didn’t seem to be quite enough for the place we were in.  All I really can say is that I know I will never be able to completely understand what happened because I was not there; because of this, all I can really do is to respect the lives that ended there and try to learn all that I can.  (I will say, however, I thought it was pretty disrespectful that there was a coffee shop there, just as one of the other students mentioned.  I don’t think that it’s right to make money off a concentration camp, especially because it was a place where many people starved to death).

As much as I want to go home, I’ll definitely miss being in Germany.  It’s been a great experience and I certainly would want to visit again! Until next time, I suppose.

Edit: On my free day, I also went to a flea market with several other students on the trip.  It was an interesting thing to go to because it was a cool way to see something Berliners would go to in modern life.  It was a pretty large market; there were several hundred people there just walking around and taking everything in.  There were all sorts of vendors with lots of different types of food (German foods, of course, but many other things, like Indian food and even falafel, my favorite food).  It was really neat because a lot of older items were being sold as well (old electronics, old pins from the East German government, etc.); it was like a window to the past in its own way.  It was fun to do this because it was a way to participate in something modern, and of course, the shopping was great.



Paris is a beautiful yet hectic place to visit; as much as I loved my visit, I don’t know that I could live there.

The subway system was fun to navigate and relatively easy to follow, but I always felt rushed, more so than I had in London; I was also surprised at how dirty some of it was.  The rest of the city, however, did not feel this way.  In many of the areas I walked in, people were enjoying themselves and taking their time.  I saw so many people relaxing in the grass, or enjoying an ice cream.  It was also neat to see the locks on all the bridges of people who had fallen in love. (On the flip side, however, I’ve been told that these locks are ruining the bridges because they weigh them down so much).

Of course, the food in Paris did not disappoint.  All the foods at the Latin quarter were great, and I also had falafel by the Memorial, which was absolutely amazing.  I probably should have had more traditional French food than I did, but the ethnic food I often had was often great.  One day I and some others went out to get hot chocolate because we had heard it was very good.  It turned out to be one of the best things I’ve ever had; it was essentially a melted Hershey’s bar (but better). In the meantime, all one had to do to get good food was to stop by any of the creperies all over the city.  Additionally, I really liked that eating was not usually rushed; we were always encouraged to stay, relax and talk.  It was also great to be able to eat outside a few times especially because the weather was good.

One of my favorite experiences was spending time by and on the Eiffel tower, even though it was of course quite touristy.  Going up was especially beautiful at night; on the second floor of the tower, we had an amazing view of the city (and the light show)! It did, however, show a lot of the societal problems France (and certainly many other countries) must face.  There were plenty of people selling cheap items for purchase (cheap souvenirs, champagne at the tower, selfie sticks, etc.), as well as many beggars all over.  It was sad because selling these items were probably the only livelihood possible for these people at the time, but of course there was little I could do individually to help.

I spent some time in the Louvre as well; the works of art were breathtaking but so was the building itself.  This building, like many other buildings in Paris, such as the Notre Dame, may be standing now, but their existence tells of a history that can be hundreds or even thousands of years old.  I find the history of these buildings to be fascinating because they give Paris its elegant feel; this feeling is simply not present in many American cities as they simply have not seen the history that cities like Paris have existed through.  Because of its age, many interesting buildings, sidewalks, churches, etc. can be found in Paris because this collective history and culture is what makes the city so special.

I’ve loved spending time in Paris overall, but am excited to see Berlin!


While in Bayeux, France, we went on a lot of day trips to museums, beaches, and other cemeteries in the area to understand and learn more about D-Day.

I found the French perspectives to be very interesting, particularly at the museum in Caen.  The museum covered many events I did not know too much about in detail, such as the German invasion of France.  It also, however, seemed to try to maximize its presentation on the French resistance and the role France played in the Allied victory, which at times appeared to be exaggerated.  The discussion on the bombings of France by allied forces by the exhibit were also interesting; at times the exhibit made it sound like the bombings were much more hurtful and unnecessary than anything else.  Of course, the subject in the first place is touchy, but it would have been best that the exhibit tried to cover all sides of the issues as why the bombings could have been bad or good and necessary or unnecessary, rather than use somewhat strong language saying the bombs were generally unneeded.

Additionally, I generally was not happy about the statues in the front of the museum because although they represent a historical event, they ultimately represent (and arguably glorify) sexual assault.  While there were captions present that discussed the controversy, this discussion would not necessarily be visible to those driving by; the photo the statues were based off, of course, have repeatedly been glorified in our society (I had no idea that the man grabbed someone he didn’t know until I happened to read about it a few months ago).

Otherwise, despite these biases in relation to the French perspective, I think the museum did very well in creating a context in its exhibition on the events before the Second World War.  It also made great connections to the present day with its Cold War exhibit.

I also found, however, the discussion of the ICRC and its goals of humanitarianism during war to be particularly interesting. In the exhibit, there were examples of what was said was acceptable in war and what wasn’t (for example, fighting other soldiers would be “okay,” while killing civilians would not be acceptable according to the rules).  It also displayed rights that people should have at times in war, which included the right to know what happened to family members, as well as the right to sustenance.

I find it a difficult subject because ICRC inevitably okays war though it condemns specific actions in particular though of course, it makes sense that what the group is doing is for the best because it does make sense to try to step in the right direction.  The discussion as to where the lines should be drawn is interesting but it can also be disheartening for this same reason; it is best that something as opposed to nothing is done to try to make war more civil, though it would be best that wars in general would cease to exist.

Ultimately, seeing Bayeux, the beaches of the D-Day landings, and the French perspective as a whole was a great experience! I can’t wait to see what the rest of the trip brings in Paris and Berlin.


Shhh this was written a while ago but like osu’s blog is confusing don’t judge me




While in London, I’ve learned a lot about the British portrayal of many aspects of the Second World War, especially in the Imperial War Museum and the Churchill War Rooms.  It’s been amazing to see so many things in one city that’s so unique.

First of all, I was surprised to see that there seemed to be relatively little coverage of aspects of the war for the Soviets and the Eastern front as a whole in the Imperial War Museum, which went into heavy detail about many other aspects of the fighting. Of course, I would not have expected them to have focused on the region because the museum was from a British point of view, but I was frustrated by how little I saw because the Eastern front was very important in both World War One and World War Two. This has often happened in American accounts and coverage of the war that I have seen over time, especially in the classroom as well as the World War Two Museum in New Orleans, which means I have wanted to spend more time in particular to learn about the Eastern Front, only to find similar coverage of the topic here.

A lot of the coverage of the fighting was based more on the aspects of machinery and fighting, and not so much on the human aspect of the war, which I found to be different from many American museums I have been to over time.  This is especially true in relation to the Holocaust Museum in Washington D.C., which focused on remembering the events.  In particular, there was a part of the exhibit that had a model of Auschwitz; this model demonstrated what would happen to those sent to the camps in a very methodical way.  It also had many first-hand accounts from survivors, which did attempt to add to the humanization of the victims, which I have seen many other accounts focus on.  Either way, both the Holocaust exhibit in the Imperial War Museum and the D.C. Museum were very good thought they did different things.

Getting to see a V2 rocket, a T34 tank, and many other war weapons in person was interesting; seeing them in pictures can help one visualize, but definitely not as well as looking at them in real life.   I had no idea that so many of the weapons were as large as they are. I also really liked that the Museum tried to incorporate newer technologies as much as possible to make the exhibits more interactive, as well as present more info on certain topics to those interested. It was really cool that the World War One Exhibit did what it could to make it appear as though visitors were going through trenches, and went into detail on what one would experience there, from the gas attacks, to the rats, and to the fear of death that those who fought had to deal with.

Overall, I found the museum to be amazing, but there was so much to see that there was no way I could have gotten to all of it in the course of one day.  London has been a great city to visit and I have learned quite a lot! I hope to have similar experiences in Bayeux, Berlin and Paris.