Tourguiding in Berlin

Berlin is a city with an incredible complex history. There are corners on which you could stand for an hour explaining the different layers of history that shaped this town. The biggest challenge for every tourguide is to find a way to explain this background without boring people and losing their interest.

I faced this problem for the first time when I decided to give guided tours in the former concentration camp of Sachsenhausen north of Berlin. I wanted to explain to my guests not only what happened in this awful place, but also why it could have happened in the first place, what led to the Third Reich and the Holocaust and what effect this has on German society nowadays.

Even more I wanted people to be able to remember what I told them during the tour for a longer time.

 

I had been to a concentration camp for the first time in my life at the age of 15 with my class. We visited Bergen-Belsen, the place that Anne Frank had died in, on a school trip. In the memorial site we had a guided tour of two hours that showed us what was left of the camp. When looking back to that tour I only remember one thing the guide had said: „Most people here died of diseases and starvation.“ That was all that remained with me after those two hours. I wanted to make sure that this would not happen after my tours as well! 

 

Telling a story

I already knew that the human brain remembers best when it has an emotional connection to a memory. I also knew that it is hard to build this up just for dates and facts. We need a story, a personal experience to have a lasting impression. This was the first time I came up with the idea to structure all of my tour around a single storyline, telling the life story of a former prisoner to tell the history of Germany and the concentration camps. The feedback of all clients was incredible!

I got mails from teachers more than a month after our tour telling me that the kids, teenagers of 15 or 16 years, still remembered names and details from the tour and had started to show an active interest in this part of history! 

All that had been needed was a face and a story.

 

A new kind of tour

Soon I started to apply this simple approach to more of my tours, reading biographies and personal memories, transforming those into tours about the Third Reich, the divided Berlin and many more. 

I became the Berlin Storyteller.

If you decide to come on a private tour with me I will share this wealth of knowlegde and personal stories with you whenever possible. No matter whether you are a history buff or hear about German history for the first time, I promise that the stories of Harry Naujoks, Martin Niemöller, Harald Jäger, Stella Goldschlag and others will open your eyes to a completely new level of tourguiding!

 

 

©2020 Berlin private tours by Dennis Behnke

Berlin, Germany