Germany’s Honesty

The museums in Berlin differed significantly from any of the museums we had seen before. First, The Topography of Terror is very clear in laying out Nazi Germany’s crimes. It has pieces about the persecution and execution of Jews and tries to bring attention to all the countries that suffered because of them. Most museums only focus on Poland and France when talking about nations that were invaded, but the Topography of Terror has information on Greece, Denmark, and many others. I also appreciated the Topography of Terror’s blunt and straightforward presentation. For example, there are few artifacts or objects to look at, but lots of information to read, for example on the Nazi rise to power and persecution of Jews. The information is clear and well organized, which makes it easy to understand. While the museums in London and Paris predominantly focused on their main leaders during the time, such as Churchill and de Gaulle, Germany’s museums discuss members of the Nazi party other than Hitler. It was helpful to learn about the other leaders because it clarifies how the Nazis exercised power. It was not only Hitler who murdered Jews and started WWII, but many others who worked with and followed him.

In contrast to other nations’ sites, Germany faces Nazi crimes honestly, as its own crimes. The museums in France and Krakow seldom mention collaboration with the Nazis or abusive treatment of Jews. They do not readily admit to their countries’ crimes like Germany does. France and Poland’s crimes were not as severe as Germany’s, but that makes Germany’s admission of guilt the more compelling. We also saw mentions of WWII outside of museums. We toured the Parliament building and our guide discussed how they carefully constructed parliament in the post-war era to prevent another party like the Nazi’s from accumulating so much power. On the ground floor, our guide showed us graffiti left by the Red Army when they took Berlin. It is proudly on display as a reminder of their dark past. Even the Berlin Zoo has a small note about which buildings were destroyed and which survived during the war. The horrors of the past are not avoided in Berlin, and they use their history to learn from it and be better in the future.