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Students take a trip through time on Cold War trip in Eastern Europe

Four students and two teachers spent spring break traveling in Eastern Europe. This group took the opportunity to learn in much more depth the Cold War and what surrounded it.

Social studies teacher Lindsey Ehret and science teacher Megan Menne accompanied junior Elliot Murray and sophomores Chase Hatch, Lucas Hayden, and Cyrus Ranek. The guide for the trip was Petar Ljubich, a Croat who is both a tour guide and historian.

The group met early Friday morning at St. Louis-Lambert Airport before leaving for Berlin. They arrived in Berlin early Saturday morning, and wasted no time checking into their hotel before leaving for Checkpoint Charlie, an old checkpoint between East and West Germany. The group also went to the Bundestag, the German Parliament building. Close to the Bundestag is the Berlin Holocaust Memorial and the Brandenburg Gate, both of which were also visited. 

The following day the group toured a Stasi prison; the Stasi was the oppressive State Security Service of East Germany. They also saw what remained of the Berlin Wall and the East Side Gallery, a long strip of Berlin Wall filled with murals. The group then ventured on to a war memorial church. At dinner that night they met with Duncan Allen ’16, a graduate student at Hertie School.

(Left to right) Elliot Murray, Megan Menne, Cyrus Ranek, Lucas Hayden, Chase Hatch, Lindsey Ehret at the East Side Gallery in Berlin. photo | Petar Ljubich

After seeing Berlin, the group departed by van the following day to see Potsdam, where the Allies discussed how to handle a post-WWII Germany. They then went to the building where the conference was held, and the group also was able to see Sanssouci Palace. After seeing Potsdam, the group left by train for Gdynia.

On their first day in Poland, the group visited one of SLUH’s partner schools, Zespól Szkót Jezuitów. ZSJ was having a “European day,” where classes gave presentations on countries. SLUH students first gave their own presentation on SLUH and then were able to grade the ZSJ projects. The group also visited a WWII museum before getting some free time to explore.

“I would have to say my favorite part was the World War II museum in Gdańsk,” said Ranek. “Seeing the war from the Polish and Eastern Front perspective was eye opening, and was much more detailed than what we learn (in classrooms).” 

The next day, both groups from SLUH and ZSJ visited the Solidarnosc museum, which focused on Polish independence.

After leaving the museum, the group departed for Kraków via train. The only event on the itinerary the following day was a tour of Auschwitz and Auschwitz-Birkenau, making this by far the most solemn day on the trip. 

The day after that, students met with a second SLUH partner school, called Kostka High. Here students were given a tour of the school before being able to participate in classes and ate lunch at Kostka before departing by train for Prague.

A large portion of the next day was devoted to exploration around the city. The group visited the Prague astronomical clock, and walked around much of the city before being allowed to go and find lunch somewhere and shop. The following morning at 4:30 a.m. the group left for the airport, flying to Frankfurt and then direct to St. Louis. They arrived at 3:00 p.m. on Sunday, right before the school week started up.

“I would definitely recommend this trip to others, along with any other SLUH Global Education program,” said Hatch. “Traveling abroad is one of the most important things for Americans, especially to stay aware of other cultures and world news.”






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