On Telegraph Blogs there is a very interesting post from Guy Walters on the new Hitler exhibition at the German Historical Museum in Berlin. It is the first such exhibition in Germany's Post War history; there have been many on the Holocaust, Nazi crimes, the lives of individuals, but never on the man whose name more than anyone else's has become synonymous with 'evil' and the events of the early 20th century. The fear has always been that any such exhibition will stand as a rallying call for Neo-Nazis, which prompted the exhibition's directors to talk of their nerves in Der Spiegel a couple of weeks ago.
Walter's final conclusion, that the British still have longer to go to come to terms with the war than the Germans, is absolutely true; we have a relationship with the war that other nations would not believe possible. However, his description of the apathetic German isn't far from the truth. I will be heading to a lecture this evening with a holocaust survivor, at which I reckon there will be four, perhaps five people under the age of 40 out of an audience of thirty people. Of them, I will possibly be the youngest. The issue is not that the Germans must 'get over' the past, it is that they have not yet dealt with it fully.
There is a huge effort on the part of a few to face the past in a meaningful way, and they constantly hit a mental wall built by the German people in the 1950s and 60s of denial and ignorance. I would suggest that there is very limited interest from the youth of today in the Nazi era, perhaps because it belongs to the previous generation.
According to Spiegel Online,
"Over one hundred journalists from all over the world came [to the opening], including thirty camera teams, for of which came from Japan alone. All waited nervously for something to happen".All the fuss over the Hitler exhibition makes little sense to my British mind, partly because if such a thing happened in the UK no one would bat an eyelid. I wonder if the German organisers of the exhibition are concerned not just with how Neo Nazis will react to the exhibition, but how the rest of the world will react too.