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During the Easter break, a group of students in Years 10 to 12 travel across Europe to visit key historical sites and deepen their understanding of their HSC study units.
Our group visits sites in Italy, Germany, Belgium and France over 18 days, including WWI battlefields, the Colosseum and famous museums.
Here we follow their adventure of learning well beyond the bounds of the classroom.
Though a difficult part of history to reflect on, a visit to Dachau concentration camp on Day 8 and the Nuremberg Rally grounds on Day 9 of the tour proved invaluable to Year 12 Modern History students studying Nazism and its propaganda.
Student Sammy, in Year 12, shares details of the experience on the tour's first stops in Germany.
"The group landed in Munich and went to Dachau concentration camp. Dachau was the first concentration camp established in 1933 for Hitler’s political opponents, particularly communists and socialists and was the only camp that existed throughout the entire 12 years of Nazi rule. By the end of the war, the camp covered over 1.5 square kilometres. The camp now consists of a self-guided museum where we learnt about why it was established, what type of prisoners were there, the living conditions for prisoners and the set up of the camp.This was very useful for the Year 12’s study of Germany and Nazism in power. We then had a chance to walk around the grounds of the camp, which consisted of several memorials.
"One of the memorials was impactful with the statement “May the example of those who were exterminated here between 1933 and 1945 because they resited Nazism help to unite the living for the defence of peace and freedom and in respect for their fellow men.” This was a very difficult afternoon but incredibly important for the girls to understand.
Students outside Courtroom 600 in Nuremberg.
Friday 14 April: Propaganda and power
"The following day the group went to the Nuremburg Rally grounds, where annual Nazi rallies were held for propaganda purposes to showcase the strength and power of the regime. The rallies were first held in 1927, and the grounds covered an area of 11 square kilometres. Most of the buildings were still under construction and never used as construction was stopped due to the outbreak of war. One of the most important areas of the grounds was the Zeppelin field where military marches and Hitler’s infamous speeches were held.
"A significant part of the Zeppelin fields had been deconstructed, including the large golden Swastika, during the Allied victory parade in 1945, to make the world aware of the end of Nationalism Socialism (Nazism). We then went to the Documentation Centre within the rally grounds where we learnt about the rise of Nazism and Nazism in power. This was incredibly useful for the Year 12s studying Germany and Hitler’s film propagandist Leni Riefenstahl.
"The group then went to the Palace of Justice and visited Courtroom 600 where the Nuremburg Trials were held after the war. In the courtroom museum we learnt about the impact of these trials on the development of international law, particularly war crimes and crimes against humanity. We also learnt about the trial process and were able to examine the effectiveness of the trials in achieving justice."
The Zeppelin Tribune.
The gate at Dachau.
Year 12 students Georgia and Isabel share their appreciation on Day 7 of the tour for the town rich in ancient Roman history preserved by the volcanic matter that spelled tragedy for its inhabitants in 79 AD.
"Today we went to Pompeii, which for all the Ancient girls was the most exciting stop of the trip. We were lucky enough to have Dr Berry, an archaeologist who had worked on the site, take us around the ruins of the ancient city.
"We started at the paleastra, the sports grounds of Pompeii, which had a temporary exhibition of the finds of a villa near Pompeii. We learnt about the four styles of paintings from this, which help date the construction and decorations of villas in Pompeii. We then visited the Pompeii amphitheatre, significant as it is the oldest in Ancient Rome, where a multitude of gladiator games took place as often as every few weeks.
"After lunch, we had the chance to walk down the street of tombs and ended with an exploration of the Pompeii Forum, the social hub of the society that played an important economic, political, legal and religious role in society. We saw the Temple of Apollo, the oldest temple in Pompeii and saw a warehouse with tens of thousands of artefacts discovered onsite.
"After the amazing insight into Pompeii and exploring the site, we took a train to Sorrento for the afternoon. Here we had time to get gelato and do a bit of shopping for presents. Afterwards, we had dinner at a pretty restaurant with a garden and fairy lights. Ms Clarke described this as her favourite dinner yet! We then hopped back on the bus to Vico ready for our next day of travel."
The head of a statue at the Pompeii Archaeological Site.
Ancient History students in the group found great value in their Pompeii visit.
Isabel of Year 12 shares some of the highlights of the group's visit to Herculaneum on Day 6.
"After breakfast, we set off to explore the ancient ruins of Herculaneum, the prequel to every ancient historian's dream site. According to Ms Clarke, this is the “Noosa” of Ancient Rome, and following the earthquake of 62AD experienced some growth and change before the eruption of 79AD.
"We saw the boat sheds that marked the start of an exciting new process of excavation within Herculaneum, which holds models of the 300 lost lives that were discovered here, alongside a significant wooden hull of a boat from this sea-port town.
"We were able to witness the pyroclastic surge layers in the rocks, alongside the meeting point of the shoreline pre 79AD eruption. Moving further into the town, we headed to the house of the Telephus Relief, which evoked a sense of awe in all the keen historians and teachers. We continued to explore the villas and latrines with some model demonstrations from students - Our personal favorite being the villa of the mosaic of Neptune and Amphitrite which is extremely beautiful and well known throughout the archaeological community.
"From Herculaneum we stopped for lunch and received delicious fresh pasta and a nutella dessert that was to die for. We then moved onto the Villa of Oplontis which is thought to have been inhabited by Poppaea, Nero’s 2nd wife. This is also the largest villa found since the excavation began in this area. Witnessing this in person was an amazing experience as we saw the beautiful atrium, the enormous garden and also the swimming pool, which as our guide told us, is sometimes transformed into a concert venue during the summertime.
"After the tour of this villa, we travelled to the Antiquarian at Boscorelae, which was a farmhouse in ancient times. This was also attached to a museum, full of archaeological finds and revelations on life in the ancient cities, such as an oil press, a grain processor and even carbonized bread. Today was such an amazing insight into the lives of those who lived in the cities, alongside the impact of the eruption on the towns. We can’t wait to explore Pompeii tomorrow."
Days 4 and 5 of the tour take students including Sarine and Talia, both in Year 12, from Vatican City to Naples.
"On Day 4 we visited the beautiful Galleria Borghese and viewed an amazing collection of art by masters such as Bernini. We also learnt that the word 'nepotism' comes from the fact that the Pope at the time arranged positions of influence for all of his 'nephews'!
"After a walk through the lovely gardens of the Villa Borghese we made our way to the Spanish steps for a spot of people watching. We even found some time to squeeze in some all-important shopping!
"After a dose of retail therapy we headed to Vatican, stopping at Augustus' Altar of Peace and the imposing Castel Sant Angelo along the way. Upon reaching the Vatican, we joined the crowds to jostle our way towards St. Peter's Basilica in what sometimes felt like a full contact sport! However, the effort was made well worth it as St. Peter's Basilica was simply breathtaking."
Naples 'allowed us to view the artefacts we had talked so much about in class'
"After such a busy Day 4, we were quite relieved to rest the legs and start Day 5 with a four-hour bus trip to Naples. It also gave us a chance to test out the pipes with a repertoire ranging from Queen to Britney Spears. Ilaria, our tour manager, complemented us on our singing voices. However, Ms Clarke remained unconvinced.
"We finally arrived in Naples to visit the amazing National Archaeological Museum. This was a particular treat for the Year 12 Ancient girls as it allowed us to view up close many of the artefacts we had talked so much about in class. These included the beautiful frescoes taken from the villas of Pompeii.
"We then made our way to our home for the next few nights, the charming Vico Equense (despite Mr Gooley being convinced we were in Sorrento). After viewing a beautiful seaside sunset we rounded of the day by having dinner at the 'University of Pizza'. And yes, it was as good as it sounds! We are all excited about our visit to Herculaneum tomorrow, which should be one of the highlights of the tour!"
Rose and Caitlin, of Year 11, share their impressions of day three of the tour which included a look at ancient architecture.
"Today mainly focused on Ancient Rome. This morning we set out for the Colosseum. We had a guided tour with Agnes and among the many things we were taught, we learnt that the Colosseum is actually a nickname from a statue that used to be outside of it called the 'Colossus'. We then went to the Roman Forum and gained a greater insight into life in Ancient Rome through its ever evolving architecture. We also observed the change throughout Roman history through this architecture - the removal of marble and demolition of old temples into Christian churches.
"We also went to the Santa Maria Degli Angeli Church. Here we saw the beginnings of the preservation of Ancient Roman buildings through Michelangelo. This was one of the first buildings that was repurposed rather than completely destroyed and rebuilt. We then walked to the Palazzo Massimo, a museum dedicated to Ancient Rome. Overall, the day was busy but fascinating and the food as always was fantastic. Gelato three times a day is bound to make any tour good!"
Photo time in the Colosseum.
The group took in the Pantheon, Trevi Fountain and other sights on an evening walking tour on April 7.
A view of the Roman Forum.
Crowds gather outside the Colosseum.
Inside the Colosseum, which served as Rome's entertainment centre for more than 450 years.
The Wenona History tour hit the ground running upon its arrival in Rome, says History teacher David Gooley.
"After dropping our bags off at the hotel, we undertook a walking tour of the city. This involved passing through the colourful markets of Campo de Fiori and the magnificent Piazza Novana. Two of the real highlights of Day Two were the visits to the awesome and inspiring Panthenon and the beautiful Trevi Fountain. By the end of the day we had 22 tired, but very happy girls returning to the hotel, geared up for Day Three."
This afternoon, our team of history students caught a flight to Rome to begin their European history tour. Buon viaggio!