Hathershaw College

Amsterdam History Trip

Amsterdam History Trip

The Hathershaw Humanities faculty took 40 students on a three day residential trip to Amsterdam in February. Students had an amazing time taking in the views, exploring and experiencing the city’s past. They chose to visit Amsterdam as the city was occupied (alongside Netherlands) during WW2 by the Nazis. Many Jews had fled to the country in the early 1930s to escape Nazi persecution but found themselves once again hiding from the Nazis. This tied in nicely with the units students were studying in History.

Their journey started by travelling down to Dover to catch the Ferry, with a bit of Geography on the coastal erosion. As they crossed the English Channel, students were reminded that their Ferry journey would have been nothing like the journey William I made in 1066 when they crossed the Channel to conquer England.

The first place they went to visit was Kamp Vught. This is a purpose built concentration camp which was used to house Jews and other ‘undesirables’. Students were taken on a tour of the camp and shown the facilities. They were also told stories about some of the people who were imprisoned there, the food they ate, the clothes they wore and the work they did. In the Kamp, there is a memorial to children who were transported to the camp and taken to Sobibor. The monument lists 1,269 names of children who were murdered in Sobibor, the extermination camp in occupied Poland, in June 1943, some of them, only a few months old. Students took some time to ponder on the horrors that took place at the camp and what people had to experience.

They also visited the Amsterdam dungeons, where they were whisked back into the Netherland’s perilous past, to look at how crime and punishment has changed in the city. The dungeons tour teaches how punishment has evolved from mutilations with a purpose to retribute and deter, and also how there were changes to criminality. Students had a thrilling time learning about (and experiencing!) the different punishments in the interactive rooms.

During their visit, students explored the city, and went on a walking tour along the canal to Anne Frank House, where they were able to experience the culture of the city today and visit various souvenir shops. In the evenings, students enjoyed some friendly competition at a local bowling alley. It was an incredible and unforgettable experience for all, with students getting to taste the historic events of the city.