This special show at the German Historical Museum has been extended by popular demand until February 27th 2011. It opened nervously in October 2010 expecting a great influx of neo-nazi fans due to the large number of memorabilia and documents about Adolf Hitler. Fortunately those fears were unfounded.
The show couldn’t publicly advertise due to laws restricting the portrayal of imagery connected to the persona of Hitler but nonetheless it has broken every expectation in terms of the number of visitors. It contains 600 exhibits and hundreds of photographs, numerous film clips and documents. It’s the first time in Germany that the show isn’t centred on the Nazis but rather in the figure of Hitler and his relationship to his people.
Part of the story gets underway in southern Germany in 1920 right after the end of the European War. We find a society in an extreme situation of instability. It could be said Germany was perhaps more unstable and in crisis than during the war years. It’s a people who yearn for a saviour, for a leader to get them out of the mess of their present situation and a leader who can give a fresh perspective on the previous war years and on the real future owed to the German people. And voila appears Adolf Hitler as the “drummer” (a common folk figure who announces the imminent arrival of good news) presaging a better future for the German people. He finds some support in the elites of Munich but above all amongst common folk. At first Hitler clearly sees himself and is seen as a mere harbinger, an ordinary folksy guy calling for the appearance of a great German leader and saviour.
Until 1933, the struggle for the political spheres, mind set, national values, public spaces, religiosity and destiny of the German nation has largely been won by the National Socialists and Adolf Hitler has now achieved a supreme role as the Fuehrer of the German nation. One could say the National Socialists achieved this *‘coup’* by permanent street work, political action, cajoling, sometimes bullying and murdering but above all by a combination of accidents and/or stepping outside the very formal and law abiding character of German society. Hitler himself proclaims that *“it has been very fortunate of Germans to find me amongst millions and for me to find them.”*
Interestingly from 1933 on we can witness how Adolf Hitler and his inner circle very intentionally begin to completely satisfy, bombard and manipulate every single external and internal sense with various kinds of slogans, ideas, money, communal soup kitchens, newspapers, icons, radio programs, music, fashion, foods, drinks, physical activities, games, etc. and begin to provide very specific roles for German men and women. They very intentionally begin to show wonderful future images of the great worldwide empire of *“Germania”* with its capital in Berlin. They slowly take over the mind set, societal values and religiosity of the German people. They manipulate every single sentiment in an extremely destructive and differentiating direction. They carry out their mission in a very cohesive way. Those who object are persecuted from positions of power and entire groups of people are identified and exterminated. From the pulpits you can hear the whispers once again of the Jews as the *“murderers”* of Jesus. According to the exhibit’s curators during the 1930s about a third of Germans support Hitler, a third is indifferent and contented and the rest is terrified. Only six years later and after a night of vigil, semi- fasting consuming only fresh fruit juices Adolf Hitler sends his beloved nation over the abyss. It’s September 1st, 1939 and many of us have grown up aware of this war perverse imagery and it’s abysmal horrors.
Fast forwarding to 1945 this second European War and its unmentionable human disaster is rapidly coming to an end and the curators obtained rare Soviet footage of Adolf Hitler’s body outside the bunker surrounded by Red Army soldiers having a cigarette, sharing tall tales and clearly enjoying the fact that their most prized trophy is lying dead in front of them.
Towards the end of this story we arrive at the year 1970 and after many previous secret exhumations, forensic tests and re-burials Adolf Hitler’s body is finally incinerated and his ashes scattered at a secret location.
With this act perhaps it’s believed that the persona of Hitler is banished and we’ve have all learned to distance ourselves from the purveyors of nightmarish reveries but we must also wonder if there are many places in our world outside of Germany with similar situations of instability and wether the protagonists of the present or future changes will undertake a positive direction in the construction of truly human world. If anything this show tell us to be *“very awake”*.