In the 20th century Berlin saw the rise of Nazism, the devastation of war, the segregation of their country and city by competing world powers manifested in a wall which divided communities and families by force. In Berlin we find a story which resonates with every place experiencing conflict and we will also hear of Christians past and present who inspire with their approach to faith.
Those who come on the trip will visit Bonhoeffer’s home, now a museum, and meet with some of the people who work there. We will make a parallel visit to the Niemoller house, the lead pastor of the Confessing (anti-Nazi) Church, and hear how the ordinary church goers stood up against the horrors of that time. We will also visit some of our sister communities in the Community of the Cross of Nails which SCM has just been accepted into. These communities, like SCM have a legacy of working for peace and continuing the work of reconciliation today. We will visit the Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial church, destroyed by Allied bombing in WWII and rebuilt integrating its ruins, much like Coventry Cathedral. It is an architectural gem, but more than that it is a place where the wrongs of the past are remembered, and the redemption of God is manifested in both building materials and in people. Later in the trip we will stop at the Chapel of Reconciliation at the Wall, another destroyed and rebuilt church from the time of the Berlin Wall, rebuilt by the youth of Europe from the mud and rubble of the death strip where victims on both sides of the wall are remembered every day.
We also hope to meet with Christian Students from Germany to spend time together and share stories of living faith today.
What is included in the cost? The participation fee will include bed and breakfast accommodation, train travel from London to Berlin, and travel around Berlin. Other meals and expenses will need to be covered by participants.
Is a bursary available? Yes, Project Bonhoeffer invite participants to apply to their bursary fund. Full details will be sent to you on reserving your space.
Do I need to speak German? – No, though it will be lovely if you do. Several people on the trip have some German and Berliners are very generous in their willingness to speak English.
Do I need my own travel Insurance? – Yes.
I’m not a member of SCM can I still go? – Yes, if you are eligible to be a member (i.e. you are a student or recent graduate). Why not become a member at the same time?
What is expected of me? – You won’t need to do any preparation, although we will suggest some things to read or watch which will enrich your trip. Our intention is that this will be an enjoyable trip which is stimulating and thought provoking, rather than like work! You’ll be expected to be courteous with and supportive of the rest of the group and those hosting us at the various sites. There might be some visits you might wish to miss, and this will be fine, it will just be helpful to let the group leaders know. If you are joining a visit, you’ll be asked to keep well to time to make sure we arrive at our destinations as planned.
What will a day in Berlin look like? We will have breakfast at our accommodation and head out together to the underground. When we get to one of the sites we will be visiting we will usually meet a host and been shown around the church or museum and have a talk about its significance. There will be chance to ask questions and for some interpersonal chat and some time to look around on our own. In some places we might be offered refreshments and if not, we will make sure there is lots of time for snacks and coffees. We will have some time off, time to rest/reflect/sightsee and gather again for a second visit in the afternoon. In the evening, after a break for rest and a meal we will hopefully meet up with German students for some socialising. Whilst group members are free to come and go there will be a group to join to go back to the accommodation together.
Why are we going on the train? Travelling by train will help us to keep the carbon footprint of the trip to a minimum, it will also be a great chance for the group to get to know each other as we travel. (Though if you want to have your headphones in all the way we won’t stop you!)
How much walking/how will we get around Berlin? There will be a fair amount of walking - imagine a day in a big city using public transport to get to various sites. We estimate that most stretches of walking will be no more than 20 minutes at a time. Berlin has a great underground system and a travel card will be provided which will cover the whole visit as part of the cost.
What will the accommodation be like? We are expecting to book a budget hotel, and these kinds of hotels in Berlin are almost identical to those you would find in cities here. If you are willing to share a room it will keep costs down, however if you would prefer your own space, we expect to be able to accommodate that. Please note your preferences on the booking form, including room sharing requests.
What if I sign up and then change my mind? If you have paid your trip balance then this will be reimbursed providing we can find someone to take your place. Deposits are non-refundable.
Is there any commitment after the trip? If you take up the bursary from Project Bonhoeffer they will ask for some follow up, for example for you to share your reflections with students via the SCM and Project Bonhoeffer blogs, in Movement magazine or at an event.
What about food? During travel we will all personally either bring food with us or buy it on the way. In Berlin we will have breakfast provided and buy ourselves other meals during free time. Berlin is well served for food outlets, so we anticipate all dietary requirements being met.
I have another question not answered here. Please get in touch with the office and we’ll do our best to answer any other questions you have.