Friday, October 14, 2011

Germany's updated military museum


The Museum of Military History in Dresden, redesigned by the American architect Daniel Libeskind and set to open to the public Saturday, is the first war museum to open in Germany since the country's reunification and a study in contrasts appropriate to a nation grappling with its violent past.

The museum was built in 1873 as a military arsenal. Over the next 120 years, it served as the army museum for Saxony, as a Nazi military museum and as the museum of the East German National People's Army, until it was taken over by the Bundeswehr after reunification in 1990. Before it was closed for reconstruction 10 years ago, the museum presented German military history in a straightforward chronological manner — "very old-fashioned, very unspectacular," said Barbara Holzer of the architecture firm Holzer Kobler, which helped design the institution's interior.

The museum ends up being a strange hybrid: a military museum with a moderately antiwar bent, housed in a structure that combines the conventional and the strikingly modern, overlooking a city stuck between its bloody past and its rapid modernization.

Col. Matthias Rogg, the museum's director, says this unique combination is possible in a country only with such complex and conflicting attitudes toward the military: "This museum could only exist in Germany, because our history in the 20th century is so stark."

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Fixer said...

The Germans have seen too much war in the last century. They don't want to know from it anymore.

Gordon said...

That is wise seeing as how they lost nearly a whole century over it.