When the official copyright of Hitler’s Mein Kampf expired in 2015, the possibility that the book would be legally circulated in its original format brought harsh criticism in Germany. Previously, an annotated version was published featuring 3,700 comments from expert historians to be used as an education tool, though everyone also didn’t support that.
Now, a new exhibit has opened in Berlin by the private initiative called Berlin Story Bunker depicting an exact replica of Hitler’s bunker – essentially where he spent his last days. Critics are claiming that it sensationalizes history, while others think it’s a good educational tool.
What does the exhibit include?
Located approximately two kilometers from the original bunker, the exhibit includes Hitler’s exact desk, couch, grandfather clock, portrait of King Frederick II on the wall and oxygen cylinder in the corner. The room is just a short walk from central Potsdamer Platz.
According to the exhibits curator, Wieland Giebel, the aim was not to “create a Hitler show”. Instead it is only accessible to visitors that are already participating in a private tour of a separate wartime shelter that was built for 3,500 people and ultimately provided refuge for 12,000 near the end of the war. In addition, photography is not allowed inside and visitors also can see the reconstruction of the entire bunker built between 1934 and 1944.
In the early days of 1945, Hitler retreated to his underground Fürherbunker as the Allied made gains into Germany territory and the Soviets moved towards the capital city. The complex also served as the headquarters to the Nazi regime. As well, it was the space in which Hitler committed suicide on April 30, 1945.
The original bunker was destroyed shortly after the war to erase all landmarks to the Third Reich. Today, the exact spot where the underground bunker stood is now a parking lot, with a small sign indicating its horrific past.
Opening to mixed reviews
Some critics, such as the nearby Topography of Terror Museum, say exhibition showing Hitler’s bunker is nothing but mere showmanship. Within their museum, they document the war crimes committed by the National Socialists. “We explain history, document it, and stick to the facts. That is why we cannot support such productions,” says Kay-Uwe von Damoros, the museum’s spokesperson.
While on the other hand, Adam Kerpel-Fronius, from the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe feels that the bunker replica “isn’t such a bad thing”. There is a big public interest in authentic historical sights. “There was always a fear that [the original bunker] would become a pilgrimage site for neo-Nazis. But that isn’t the case. Everyone who comes to Berlin and who is interested in history knows that there was a Führerbunker, and they’d be surprised to find only a parking lot at the site,” says Kerpel-Fronius.
Hitler’s birthplace will soon be torn down
What is becoming a huge problem is Hitler’s birthplace however. Hitler was born in 1889 in Branau am Inn, near the border with Germany. The Austrian government says they plan to convert or even possibly tear down the entire building so that it does not become a pilgrimage site for neo-Nazis.