The first week we'll be in Amsterdam, studying life during the Third Reich, under the Nazi occupation. We will learn both about the oppression of the Jews and the Dutch people's resistance activities, including staging strikes, destroying records, forging documents, publishing underground newspapers, sabotaging phone and rail lines, and hiding Jews. We'll visit the Dutch Resistance Museum (the best of its kind in Europe), the Jewish Historical Museum, and the Dutch Theater, the only performance outlet for Dutch Jews during the Nazi occupation, and the deportation point for nearly 100,000 destined for the concentration camps. We'll also see the Monument to the Women of the Ravensbrück concentration camp, and the Rescuers' Memorial, as well as touring the houses of writers Anne Frank and Etty Hillesum. We will end the week by visiting Corrie Ten Boom's home in nearby Haarlem, the center of an underground network of Jewish safe houses.
The second week we'll be in Berlin, the heart of culture during the Weimar Republic and the Third Reich, studying the Nazis' sinister planning and implementation of the Final Solution. We'll see firsthand what's left of the "1000-year Reich" today, including Goebbels' Propoganda Ministry, Goering's Air Ministry, the remains of Himmler's SS and Gestapo Headquarters, the "Topography of Terror" exhibit (about SS tactics), and tour the German History Museum. We'll visit the Wannsee Villa (where the infamous "Final Solution" was planned), and have the option of touring the Sachsenhausen concentration camp, just outside Berlin. A German guide will help us to understand how Germans today are coming to terms with their past, and will show us many of the memorials that have been erected throughout Berlin in the years since the Holocaust, including the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe, the Book-burning Monument, the "Places of Remembrance" in the Bavarian quarter, the various "Stumbling Stones" (cobblestone-sized memorials for individuals murdered by the Nazis), and Grunewald Station's infamous Track 17, the deportation platform for trains heading to Auschwitz and Theresienstadt. Other sights will include both Bauhaus and Nazi architecture, and the remains of the Berlin wall. In the evenings we will attend concerts, and sample some of Berlin's famous cabaret and jazz clubs. Finally, we will visit both the Tiergarten, where a British agent helped 10,000 Jews escape Nazi Germany, and the Museum of German Resistance.
The third week we'll be in Prague, studying the history of Jewish oppression, and visiting nearby Terezin, the Nazis' "model" concentration camp and, ironically, perhaps the most vibrant cultural center during the Third Reich (an unintended consequence of imprisoning the most famous Jewish artists of the day there). We will begin by touring the Jewish quarter, the best-preserved complex of Jewish historical monuments in Europe, including the oldest active synagoge (from c1100), the Jewish museum, and the twelve-layered Old Jewish Cemetery. We'll also visit the elegant Lobkowicz Palace, confiscated by the Nazis in 1939, and the stunning St. Vitus Cathedral at the Prague Castle (founded c880), the most important cultural institution in the Czech Republic, on a hill overlooking arguably the most picturesque city in all of Europe. The highlight of our week will be the Rafael Schächter Institute of Arts and Humanities at Terezin, including a moving re-creation of Verdi's "Defiant Requiem" in the same hall where, during the Third Reich, it was performed numerous times under Schächter's baton, before all of the musicians were sent to their deaths in Auschwitz.
In all three cities, plenty of free time is built into the itinerary for students to see sights on their own, including open-air markets, public gardens, shops, restaurants, breweries, night clubs, theater, and concerts, as well as to tool around on bikes and boats.