Student View

An Unforgettable Learning Journey

By Lauren Salisbury
March 21, 2019

ullstein bild via Getty Images (Berlin Wall)


The narrative nonfiction feature in the April issue of Scope tells the story of one teen’s harrowing escape from East Germany in 1966 and offers a powerful glimpse into the Cold War era. After reading the article, explore the resources below to keep the learning going.

Essential Questions:

  • Why is it important to learn about the past?
  • How do humans respond to adversity?
  • What is oppression?


4 resources to keep your students' learning going:

Animated Video Explaining the Rise and Fall of the Berlin Wall

Watch this short and engaging TED-Ed video to help students visualize and reinforce key ideas and details from the article while building new knowledge about the Iron Curtain, postwar Germany, and life in East and West Germany.

The rise and fall of the Berlin Wall

Watch News Coverage of the Fall of the Berlin Wall

Watch this video of Peter Jennings reporting live as celebrations erupt as the Berlin Wall comes down.

robert wallis/Corbis via Getty Images (man attacking Berlin Wall)

Read About More Incredible Escapes from East Germany

Swimming across a canal, as Hartmut Richter does in “Escape to Freedom,” is just one of the many creative and dangerous ways that people escaped East Germany. This article describes how one family escaped in a homemade hot air balloon. It also features a slideshow of other great escapes, including a family that used a small rubber boat to cross the sea and the many tunnels that were dug to sneak East Germans under the border. 

Zentralbild/AP Photo (policeman in secret tunnel)

Read an Article and Watch a Video: President Regan's Historic Berlin Wall Speech

Read this article about President Ronald Regan's now historic speech in front of the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin in 1987, during which he called for the end of a divided Germany. Then watch a video of the speech itself.  (The iconic line “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!” is at minute 11:58.)

Ira Schwartz/AP Photo (president Reagan)

4 engaging activities to choose from:

  • Make a timeline of key events in “Escape to Freedom,” starting with the end of World War II and ending with the fall of the Berlin Wall.
  • Explain why the Berlin Wall is considered a symbol of the Cold War. Your answer may be in the form of an essay or a slideshow. Support your answer with information from “Escape to Freedom,” as well as one additional source.
  • Write the dialogue for an imaginary interview between a journalist and Hartmut just after he gets out of the hospital after his escape. Optionally, create a video of the interview.
  • Make a drawing, a painting, or another work of visual art showing the Berlin Wall. Rather than creating a realistic depiction, use color and imagery to show how the wall affected people’s lives and what it represented.
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