Germany breaks taboo with Hitler exhibition

  • Exhibition breaks long-standing taboo
  • Hitler has always been out of bounds
  • Fear of Neo-Nazi crowds pushed aside

AN EXTREMELY nervous Germany is preparing to stage the first exhibition dedicated to Hitler since the Fuhrer killed himself in his Berlin bunker in 1945.

The exhibition, Hitler and the Germans, opens Friday and breaks a long-standing taboo.

Since WWII, there have been dozens of museum displays on Nazi crimes, on the Holocaust, on slave labor, on the murdering doctors, cruel judges and massacring soldiers – and all triggered debates and protests.

But Hitler has always been out of bounds, in Berlin most of all, lest neo-Nazis start to swarm to the museum and pay tribute to the dictator of the Third Reich.

The emotional power of Hitler was shown two years ago when a wax model was put on display in the Berlin branch of Madame Tussauds. An enraged visitor pushed past security guards and ripped Hitler’s head off.

It seems, though, that times have changed.

“Neo-Nazis have not been known to cross the threshold of museums in the past,” said Hans-Ulrich Thamer, who is curating the Hitler show in the German Historical Museum.

Rudof Trabold, museum spokesman, said, “We should even hope that they do come and get to grips with what we are putting on show, and how we’re doing it.”

The museum is part of the old Zeughaus, scene of an unsuccessful attempt to blow up Hitler. Across the road is the Bebelplatz, where Nazis made a huge bonfire out of so-called decadent books. And a 10-minute walk away is the patch of green concealing Hitler’s wartime bunker.

The new exhibition tries hard to be unprovocative. None of Hitler’s many tunics are on display, and anything that could have been personally touched by the Fuhrer has been banished from the museum. Nor are there any bone fragments.

“Don’t worry,” said one historian, after getting a sneak preview. “They have made sure that you won’t come into contact with any of Hitler’s DNA.”

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