Controversial Hitler Museum Exhibit Opens in Berlin

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Deutsches Historisches Museum

A major new exhibition in Berlin displays bronze busts of Hitler, various items with swastikas and even toys modeled on the Fuehrer. But officials of the German Historical Museum say the controversial show is not about the dictator but rather about the society that created him.

"We don't want to focus on Hitler as a personality," Hans-Ulrich Thamer, curator of the exhibition, "Hitler and the Germans – Nature and Crime," told reporters at a media preview.

"We want to look at the rise of the regime, how it operated in power and how it fell, and the tremendous destructive potential that National Socialism unleashed," he said.

The show comes more than 75 years after the Nazis took control of the country.

It is housed in a modern annex behind the main museum, on a street named for its linden trees, which Hitler himself ordered torn down. There are no advertisements for the exhibit because German law forbids the display of Nazi symbols.

But inside there is, as The Associated Press describes it, "a world of propaganda" that even includes cigarette packets with swastikas and collectible Nazi cards.

Controversial Hitler Museum Exhibit Opens in Berlin

Deutsches Historisches Museum

The exhibit shows the construction of the Nazi state, including "folksy" celebrations of Hitler, with displays reflecting "growing racial hatred and discrimination," AP says.

Museum-goers move on to displays of the yellow stars the Nazis forced Jews to wear and striped concentration camp uniforms worn by some of the 6 million Jews who died in the Holocaust, including a child's uniform.

The show also chronicles Hitler's downfall. And then its gets into a post-war discussion of Nazism in German society, including a mention of the fascination of neo-Nazis with Hitler memorabilia.

Asked whether the museum expected the exhibit to attract neo-Nazis, an official said those sorts of people don't go to museums.

Such an exhibit would have been inconceivable a few years ago, says Reuters. But Germany has become more comfortable about confronting its Nazi past -- with a spate of films, exhibits and plays on the subject in recent years.

Even so, museum head Hans Ottoemyer admits even now, "displaying Hitler is viewed as delicate."

More items from the exhibit:
Controversial Hitler Museum Exhibit Opens in Berlin

Deutsches Historisches Museum

Controversial Hitler Museum Exhibit Opens in Berlin

Deutsches Historisches Museum

Controversial Hitler Museum Exhibit Opens in Berlin

Deutsches Historisches Museum

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