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Berlin’s Deutsches Historisches Museum closed: three great alternatives

The DHM in Berlin is closed until 2025. A superb look at the gradual rise of Hitler and the NS party’s takeover of power is available in Munich’s Documentation Centre for the History of National Socialism exhibition. It clearly demonstrates and documents in photos, video, audio and descriptive text the week by week political and judicial events that allowed the Nazis to first, take over, and second, impose a series of racially charged laws that would eventually deprive whole segments of the population of all their rights, leading to taking of their property and finally their lives. Another great exhibition—this one about the sophisticated techniques of Nazi propaganda —is available in Nurnberg, at the Nazi Party Rally Grounds. (Some directories say this sight is permanently closed but in fact you can still see the vast majority of the sprawling complex, including this phenomenal exhibit.) See the photo of the Bavarian Adolf Hitler in lederhosen—an image the Party suppressed because its subject appears too provincial and effeminate in it. Learn how the images we grew up seeing (in our history books) of adoring crowds weeping with love for Hitler were themselves staged propaganda events. And finally, in Leipzig, visit the free Forum for Contemporary History museum for an exceptionally thoughtful exhibit showing life in the DDR (lots of fascinating objects from everyday life in the DDR are on display, with excellent commentary in German NDA English) and how East and West Germany’s media portrayed themselves and one another. Especially enlightening is the section devoted to two long-running TV crime dramas—one made in West Germany (Tatort) and the other in East Germany (Polizei 110). How did each show talk about and portray their respective societies? In each show, what crimes are—and are not—portrayed? What is identified as a cause of crime? What motivated the perpetrators? What purpose do such programs serve for people? The answers are a wonderful lens through which to view and understand the two systems.

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I second the suggestion about the Documentation Centre exhibition - it was superb. I planned to spend an hour and ended up not leaving for 4 hours, there was so much to see and absorb. Very thought provoking.