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A waltz around Vienna

7 February 2020

A number of our social scientists have visited Vienna to explore topics related to their A Levels in the city that was Freud’s home, until he fled Nazi persecution.

Spending several days in Austria’s capital allowed our sixth formers to discover Vienna’s diverse range of museums, exhibitions, activities and historical sites. Highlights from their educational trip were a visit to the Jewish Museum and Judenplatz Holocaust Memorial, a Sigmund Freud walking tour, and a guided tour of iconic mental health institution, the Narrenturm.

Ms James, Head of Social Sciences at Westminster City School, explains: “The Jewish Museum and Judenplatz Holocaust Memorial are key to Vienna’s modern history. Our visit provided an excellent opportunity for our A Level Psychology students to reflect on how mass obedience takes place, while our A Level Sociology students looked at understanding how the Holocaust, and other state crimes, happen.

“Our tour of the Narrenturm asylum was both fascinating and horrifying. One of Europe’s first and most forward thinking treatment centres for those with psychiatric disorders, the building and old treatment rooms now hold the world’s largest collection of pathological anatomy. We were shown some real examples of disease and pathology, which we have learned to treat over the last century.”

As Vienna was the home of Sigmund Freud, the founder of psychoanalysis, until he fled the Nazis for London, our students also enjoyed Freud walking tour. This was led by a representative from the Sigmund Freud Museum, who talked about Freud’s life and places of interest to him. During this tour, our students also saw a bust of Karl Popper, who studied in Vienna and remains one of the twentieth century's most influential philosophers of science.

Of course, no trip to Vienna would be complete without a slice of its famous chocolate cake - sachertorte! Our students enjoyed a Viennese afternoon tea in the famous Cafe Central, which had been the favourite haunt of the Viennese intellectual scene. Regular visitors in the past include Freud, Marxist theorist Leon Trotsky, and numerous writers and poets, like Polgar, Zweig and Altenberg. It remains one of Vienna’s most attractive coffeehouses, ensuring our sixth formers enjoyed a hot drink and piece of cake within a great setting.

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