Posted by: sommecourt | 21/02/2011

Hitler Exhibition – German Historical Museum


Had an interesting visit to the Adolf Hitler exhibition in the Deutsche Historisches Museum in Berlin this week. The exhibition has caused quite a stir in Germany and has been so popular it has overrun it’s original dates.

The exhibition covers the early years of Hitler, his rise as a political leader and then the Nazi period. It utilises many rare and unique photographs, documents and objects, and much of the text is in English as well as German.

Part of the reason I went was as much to see who was actually visiting this exhibition as well as see what was in it. In Britain we are so used to seeing images and film of the Hitler era, one forgets how that is less frequent in Germany itself. It’s clear that the German audience was fascinated; I saw older visitors clearly old enough to remember National Socialist Germany look at things and shake their head. Those under thirty looked transfixed.

But part of me wonders, what do they really make of an exhibition like this? Is it an attempt to confine Hitler to the past and along with it those troubled years? The whole thing could easily have been an exhibition on a leader from a thousand years ago, rather than something in living memory. Is there now a desire to forget Hitler, when really Germany has hardly come to terms with what those years did, or what their legacy was?

Almost everything from WW2 is visibly absent from the streets of Berlin to the casual eye, except for direct references to the Holocaust. But the experience of that war goes way beyond what happened to the likes of my grandmother’s family in Auschwitz. With a keen eye, the traces of bullet marks and scars of battle can be seen on many Berlin buildings, memorials and street furniture. It lies there silent, like the story of more than a million Landsers whom Hitler sent to die in Russia. What Hitler’s regime did to Germany and the German people was in many ways absent from this exhibition. It seems the real story of Germany’s war is yet for the telling.


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