Deutsches Historisches Museum (German Historical Museum)

The glass and steel encased spiral staircase of the Deutsches Historisches Museum (German Historical Museum) in Berlin, designed by the architect I M Pei

One thing that Berlin does not have a shortage of is world-class museums and back in May I got to see one of the very best, the Deutsches Historisches Museum (German Historical Museum) for free.

Sunday 20 May was International Museum Day and as part of the celebrations a number of Berlin’s museums offered free entry.

Architecturally, one of the most striking features of the museum is the spiral staircase of the new Exhibition Hall, designed by the architect I M Pei, which is encased in glass and steel.

It was in the Exhibition Hall that I saw the temporary exhibitions: Friedrich Der Grosse – Verehrt, Verklärt, Verdammt (Frederick The Great – Respected, Revered, Reviled) and Fashioning Fashion.

I was disappointed that there were very few English descriptions for the exhibits in the Friedrich Der Grosse exhibition so I quickly moved on to Fashioning Fashion.

On entering I was given a full brochure in English and I really enjoyed tracing the development of European fashions between 1700 and 1915 through the many garments on display.

This would be an ideal counterpoint for anyone in town this week for Berlin Fashion Week to the many catwalk shows and parties.

Unfortunately, photography wasn’t allowed in the temporary exhibitions.

The permanent exhibition housed in the Zeughaus (Armoury) covers German history between 100BC and 1994.

Whilst there were a number of interesting exhibits here, it was the sections covering the rise of Nazism, the World Wars and Cold War years that I found most interesting, probably because I have a better understanding of these events.

A bronze of Hitler on display at the Deutsches Historisches Museum (German Historical Museum) in Berlin

Uniforms with Swastika armbands on display at the Deutsches Historisches Museum (German Historical Museum) in Berlin

A model of the Grosse Halle des Volks, part of Albert Speer’s plans for Hitler’s Welthauptstadt Germania, which you can read a little more about in my Hitler’s Folly – Schwerbelastungskörper post.

A model of Grosse Halle des Volkes, part of Albert Speer’s plans for Hitler’s Welthauptstadt Germania, on display at the Deutsches Historisches Museum (German Historical Museum) in Berlin

I was fascinated by a model, by the Polish sculptor Mieczyslaw Stobierski, depicting the horror of the extermination chambers at Auschwitz.

A guard with a dog and prisoners in a model of Auschwitz by Polish sculptor Mieczyslaw Stobierski at the Deutsches Historisches Museum (German Historical Museum) in Berlin

Prisoners are marched into the death chambers in a model of Auschwitz by Polish sculptor Mieczyslaw Stobierski at the Deutsches Historisches Museum (German Historical Museum) in Berlin

Prisoners are put to death in a model of Auschwitz by Polish sculptor Mieczyslaw Stobierski at the Deutsches Historisches Museum (German Historical Museum) in Berlin

Amongst my favourite items in the other areas of the museum were a huge painting by Anton Alexander von Werner of the inauguration of parliament by Wilhelm II in 1888 and a bust of former British Prime Minister, Benjamin Disraeli.

A painting of the inauguration of parliament by Wilhelm II in the White Hall of the Berlin Palace in June 1888 by Alexander von Werner on display at the Deutsches Historisches Museum (German Historical Museum)

A bust of former British Prime Minister, Benjamin Disraeli, on display at the Deutsches Historisches Museum (German Historical Museum) in Berlin

The treasures of the Deutsches Historisches Museum aren’t limited to the exhibition spaces.  There were some wonderful statues in the foyer.

A statue of Lenin in the lobby of the Deutsches Historisches Museum (German Historical Museum) in Berlin

A statue in the lobby of the Deutsches Historisches Museum (German Historical Museum) in Berlin

There was far too much on display to take it all in in one visit so I will have to return to the Deutsches Historisches Museum, probably more than once, to learn more about German history.

7 thoughts on “Deutsches Historisches Museum (German Historical Museum)

    1. andBerlin

      Definitely not, though that was what I focused on. There is a specific exhibit dealing with ‘Hitler and the Germans’ but it’s just a fraction of what’s on display. I need to go back to really look at the time before that, prepared to read the item descriptions to understand the earlier history of Germany.

      Reply
  1. fotoeins

    You’ve done a great job covering the museum; your pictures show some of these pieces very well! I also think the DHM does a good job of trying to cover Germany’s history, its role in shaping Europe, and in turn, its evolution shaped by the developments around her in Europe.

    Reply
  2. Sarah

    that model of the people walking down the steps into the chamber and then the horror inside just made me burst into tears at my desk. Thank you for sharing.

    Reply
    1. andberlin Post author

      I’m the same Patrick and I’m pretty sure that a third visit won’t be enough to make me feel that I’ve seen everything.

      Reply

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