Berlin 'Hitler and the Germans' exhibition tackles Nazi history head-on

M&H online 22 October 2010

A controversial new exhibition ‘Hitler and the Germans: Nation and Crime’ opens today at the German Historical Museum in Berlin.

Workers mass producing busts of Adolf Hitler, 1937  Photograph © Süddeutsche Zeitung Photo/ScherlSixty-five years after the end of the Second World War Hitler and National Socialism still remain explosive issues.  Every generation poses similar questions: How was Hitler’s rise possible?  How could Hitler and National Socialism, which were responsible for war, crimes and genocide, count on widespread acceptance by German society until the very end?  Why were so many Germans willing to align their conduct with the ‘Führer’ and thus actively support the Nazi dictatorship?

The exhibition seeks answers to these questions by examining not only the phenomenon of Hitler, but also German society and its significance for the rule of National Socialism.

Poster for Hitler and the Germans exhibition © German Historical MuseumHitler’s power cannot only be explained by his personal traits, but also by the political and social conditions and sensitivities of the German people at the time.  The exhibition explores this idea, juxtaposing contemporary documents, pictures and everyday objects from the time with material showing the role of Hitler, the politics of the Nazi regime, and the involvement of German society.  Assertions by the Nazi propaganda machine are offset by counter images, and picture walls shed light on the negative dynamics and ambivalence of the politics of the Nazi regime.

Stunningly displayed in the museum’s new 1050m2 exhibition hall designed by architect I.M. Pei, ‘Hitler and the Germans’ also describes the conditions leading up to the dictator’s accession to power, the politics of domination and annihilation practised by the National Socialists, and the post-war period after 1945.

Hitler and the Germans: Nation and Crime
I M Pei Exhibition Hall, German Historical Museum, Berlin
15th October 2010 – 6th February 2011
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