Written by Bill Zahurak Class of 2014
The best way to learn about German History is to experience it first-hand. While some students were originally less than enthused about taking a German history course, we discovered by the end of our trip that the Berlin semester was a once in a life time experience to not only learn a about new culture but to also be in the midst of it. One of the most anticipated trips during the semester was our visit to a Hertha Berlin soccer match held at the Olympiastadion, home of the 1936 world Olympics.
Driven by the ambition of Nazi Germany, this stadium was built as a demonstration to the world that Germany was a rising global super power. The monumentality of the stadium and its surrounding development intended to invoke in visitors the idea that Germany produces the best architects and the best athletes. Although both the 1936 Olympics and the Hertha Berlin Soccer team are usually remembered as upsets in German sports, our trip to the stadium is remembered as one of our favorites.
After a short train ride outside of the city of Berlin, we arrived at the stadium and were given short a tour of the 1936 Olympic Site. We were awestruck when we realized how large everything was. From the Olympic Ring towers to the upper roof of the stadium, which covers 37,000 square meters and covers 77,000 people, everything is built to a monumental scale we weren’t used to experiencing.
During the trip we also got a chance to see Le Corbusier’s Berlin Unité, located conveniently within walking distance of the stadium. Our history course covered a lot of ground in terms of both material and field trips. We found these field trips incredibly helpful because we were able to learn much more about a building we had studied after seeing it for ourselves.
What really made the trip for many of us was the soccer game itself. Most of us stopped by the sports memorabilia stand to buy some Hertha colors and then went right to the food stations and beer tents to prepare for the match. Aside from everything we learned in class, being in Berlin was a great opportunity to experience a new culture.