Saturday, June 6, 2009

German Historical Museum

The Deutsches Historisches Museum; one corner of it

Kant, in the Enlightenment section

88mm cannon, in anti-aircraft configuration

V2 rocket combustion chamber

Hitler kept two of these over-sized globes, one in Berlin, one in Berchtesgaden; this is the globe Chaplin satirized in The Great Dictator

"You mean....Springtime know who?" The museum had relatively few images of Hitler, but they did have this one bust...all the museum's other busts, I believe, are in white

Thursday we decided to ignore our electrical problems as well as other needs, and just go in and see more of the city. Rain was forecast (correctly), so we decided to do our sightseeing indoors at the German Historical Museum. It is, as one might imagine, a long and interesting stroll through German history, from Stone Age to Celts to Romans and then into the dark ages, emergence of the Holy Roman Empire, Middle Ages, Reformation, etc., right up to the present. Rather more attention is given to more recent history, especially the founding the nation in the 1870s, WWI, the Depression and rise of National Socialism, WWII, partition, and reunification. The period 1919-present occupies almost the whole main floor. The emphasis is on political, technological, religious, and military history. Sadly, Germany's great artists, writers, philosophers, composers, etc., get very short or no shrift. (No mention of Bach, Beethoven, Brahms, nor, alas, even Wagner). Oh well. Kant did get pride of place on a little display about the Enlightenment, and there was a bust of Goethe. Thomas Mann gets mentioned only in the context of his BBC broadcasts during WWII.

Anyhow, having had interests in German history and culture that go back a long way...theology, philosophy, language study, WWII, Wagner...I found the museum fairly absorbing and spent virtually the whole day there (but also walking the Unter den Linden a bit, visiting the national holocaust site, the German Staats Oper, Humboldt University, and more. Also peeks at the Reichstag, the Brandenburg Gate.....

The museum's treatment of Hitler and National Socialism, both Vicki and I thought, was forthright, open, and pulled no punches. His coming to power, conflict with the Marxists, the ruthless nature of Nazism, the Holocaust, and so on, were evidenced in every conceivable way. I could go on at great length about all this (and have lots of pix). I doubt that any museum has a more difficult story to tell, and the DHM takes on its task with all the grace and candor that is possible. It is a terrible and unforgivable story.

After dinner, we drove over to the KulturForum area to see the museums there and principally the Gemaldegalerie. It is a huge collection of European painting; the 400 works lost in WWII hardly diminished its importance, it is said. Personally, I was not overwhelmed. It has hundreds of works by the masters, yes, but no masterpieces, no signature pieces. IMHO. But, hey, we got to chalk up another Michelin 3 star site. We “camped” again at the Avus Rasthaus in SE Berlin.

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