On 4th October, 2018, we (Q2 E G3) interrupted our sequence on young audiences‘ interest in Shakespeare for a day to go back to the postwar period of the Second World War. After Germany had lost the war, it was divided into four parts: The west was occupied by the British, the east by the Soviets and the south was occupied by the Americans and the French. During the Cold War, the Soviets became the enemies of the British and the Americans. There were a lot of airforce stations in Germany at that time.
We visited the Royal Air Force base or rather the museum which informed us about the history of that place. The museum took us on a trip through 45 years of Royal Air Force presence in Laarbruch, Weeze and the Lower Rhine area. The aim of the museum is to document the history of the former military airbase. At times of the military airbase the building of the museum used to be a church. Now it is a big room full of photos, military aircrafts and many other reminders of the old times. A couple of years ago, the museum got bigger. Now, there is also the former cinema with a giant aircraft in it.
We were guided by former Squadron Leader Rod Hawkins who was based at Laarbruch for 31 years of his career. He told us about the genesis of the Royal Air Force station, the life there, the friendships between the British and the Germans that developed there, and, of course, about the military equipment at Laarbruch. Moreover, we had the possibility to see some aircrafts in their real sizes which was quite exciting since most of us had never seen something like that before, e.g. a Hawker Hunter, and the first Canberra PR7.
All in all, the trip was a great success. Rod Hawkins made the guided tour that interesting that it felt like a journey back in time. For everyone who is interested in British and German history the Royal Air Force Museum is the right place to widen their horizons.
Finally, we would like to say thank you to Heinz Willi Knechten of the museum for the uncomplicated arrangement of our visit, Rod Hawkins for the tour which also gave us the chance of some authentic listening (and a bit of speaking) practice, and our aid association which supported this trip financially.
Text: Maja Aengenvoort