Museum probes Hitler's power

2010-10-14 13:39
Berlin - A major Berlin museum is launching an exhibition that seeks to explore how Adolf Hitler won and held mass support among Germans for his destructive regime.

"Hitler and the Germans - Nation and Crime", which opens on Friday at the German Historical Museum, juxtaposes the Nazis' propaganda images and artefacts such as 1930s Hitler busts with footage and documentation on the regime's brutality and Germans' involvement in it.

Germany has seen many exhibitions exploring the events of the Nazi era, but this one puts Hitler himself more squarely at the forefront. It comes more than 75 years after the Nazis took control, as Germans increasingly look at Hitler not just as a one-dimensional tyrant, but as a man who enjoyed vast popularity before plunging the country into war.

The aim is to explore "how this power and influence, this domination of Adolf Hitler can be explained, and to make clear that one of the factors was the readiness to approve and the readiness to go along (with) large parts of society", said curator Hans-Ulrich Thamer.

It "tries to explain the functioning, mass support and destructive strength of the regime," Thamer, a historian and professor at the University of Muenster, told reporters during a tour of the exhibition.

Enemies excluded

The collection of some 600 exhibits, along with 400 photos and posters, takes visitors chronologically through the life of the regime. Nearly three-quarters of the material comes from the museum's own extensive stores.

It portrays the Nazis' dual approach of making the German masses feel included in their movement - illustrated by a case full of various Nazi organisations' uniforms and a Nazi rally flag - while excluding those whom they had identified as enemies, such as Jews.

The latter is underlined by photos of Jewish deportations and of hospital patients being taken away for euthanasia - exhibited alongside an order signed by Hitler for the "incurably ill" to be granted "mercy death" -along with a note from a German company about equipment being supplied to the Auschwitz death camp.

Such exhibits underline the fact that "the persecution of political opponents, the persecution of Jewish fellow citizens, the deportation of Jewish citizens took place in front of everyone's eyes", Thamer said.

Hitler had little charisma

The exhibition shows Hitler's ubiquity in Nazi-era German life in everything down to playing cards, yet the curator steered clear of securing any personal belongings of the dictator.

He argued that that would have little explanatory value and said he didn't want to "support the peculiar fascination" that such items might exert.

Hitler himself had little natural charisma - "all he could do was speak and agitate, but he (got) his charisma above all from expectations", Thamer said.

"Other people presumed that he was the one who could bring salvation and national healing."

Germany easing up about Hitler

That led to growing support as Germans hit by the economic misery of the 1920s looked for a strong leader and sought scapegoats, "and Hitler offered them that in stigmatising enemies, above all the Jews and Marxism," he added.

Thamer said he doesn't expect the exhibition to generate controversy and isn't worried that fringe far-right groups might try somehow to take advantage.

Germany has become increasingly comfortable with confronting the phenomenon of Hitler's rule directly over time.

In recent years, Hitler has been the subject of one German film portraying his final days, Downfall, and another portraying him as a comical idiot - Mein Fuehrer: The Truly Truest Truth about Adolf Hitler.

He also has appeared as a waxwork at the Berlin branch of Madame Tussaud's.

The general secretary of Germany's Central Council of Jews, Stephan Kramer, said he hadn't yet seen the exhibition and couldn't comment.

Read more on:    germany
NEXT ON NEWS24X

SHARE:

Read News24’s Comments Policy

Inside News24

 
/Sport
 

Middle-seat kids: Why are they special?

Limited legroom, a siblings on each side... the middle seat has long been considered the short straw in a car but does it have a secret?

 

Stay safe

Middle-seat kids: Why are they special?
Juvenile pillion riders? Play safe...
First-aid kit: What you need in YOUR car
Hey, lazy! Get outta the disabled bay!
Traffic Alerts
Horoscopes
Aquarius
Aquarius

The energy today is expansive and philosophical. It is easy to see the bigger picture, but you can end up getting lost in it, so...read more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.




Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.