Three members of the Preservative Party, Leeds City Museum’s group for young volunteers, tell us about their recent trip to Berlin. The visit formed part of the ‘In the Wrong Place at the Wrong Time’ project at the University of Leeds.

Members of the Preservative Party were invited to Berlin as part of research with the University of Leeds into WW1 internment camps for British civilians in Germany and German civilians in Britain, focusing in on Lofthouse Park camp near Wakefield and Ruhleben camp in Spandau, Berlin. We were hosted in Berlin by JGW- the youth history workshop- a similar group to the Preservative Party.

During our weekend there, we saw an exhibition in the Spandau Citadel by German school pupils on the Lofthouse Park and Ruhleben camps, including their visit to Lofthouse Park, and spoke in a German school about the internment camps and the diary of Ruhleben internee Albert Stockwell which we have in the Leeds Museums and Galleries collection. We also visited the Berlin Wall and the military history museum on the site of the Berlin airlift and looked at some of the JGW’s other projects, such as placing stumbling stones as memorials for victims of the holocaust.

We visited the Air Museum in Berlin, which has a large collection of jets including some Russian fighter jets, and featured an interesting display showing that some civilians were bombed and went into shelters during the Second World War.

We learned a lot about the German uniforms and saw the uniform of Reichsmarschall Hermann Goering, who was a WW1 German Pilot and later became one of Hitler’s main supporters. Goering was sentenced to death at the Nuremberg trials in 1946.

We saw some modern jets like the Typhoon, the MiG-29 of Russia and the F-16 as well.

Getting to visit landmarks like the Berlin Wall and Gatow air base was great, and a favourite part of the trip was exploring Carl Friedrich von Siemens gymnasium.  It was really interesting being able to see how a European school ran: We went into an 8th grade (year 8) class and really enjoyed getting to talk to the teacher about our passions. As a group we discussed the Ruhleben diary with a smaller group of 15-16 year olds as well as talking with them about Brexit. It was good to hear different opinions about this current relevant debate. It was an amazing experience overall and we hope it can happen again!

By Eva, Callum and Ethan from the Preservative Party.

Find out more about Leeds City Museum, and discover our youth engagement programme.