Winter in the city isn't pleasant, especially when it's too cold. Time to check what are the indoor possibilities and if I'm not in the mood for a movie, a museum is second on the list. And the German Historical Museum is one of those museums that I wasn't too keen to visit. Time for a change. The building is a combination between old style architecture of an old Arsenal building and the modern glass-and-steel touch added in the new wing by I.M.Pei.
The permanent exhibition is an introduction to the German history in images in artefacts. From the big lobby, where monumental antic statues are neighbouring an equally monumental Lenin. The museum is busy, with groups or individual tourists ready to spend at least 3 hours leaning more about the German history. Most explanations are both in German and English.
The historical excursus is not only presenting facts and chronologies, but is adding a variety of details from the daily life which may give a better picture of both the culture and civilization.
Through the centuries, it introduces the life style and the cultural habits, presenting the mentalities through the angle of what the French school of history used to call the 'long durée'. But the main focus is constantly maintained: the German lands and later on, Germany.
Symbols and economical developments, industry and architecture are well polished to enter the big narrative. One of my favourite corners are those dedicated to geographical discoveries, because this is how people are supposed to enlarge their horizons and turn into more tolerant - and human, after all - individuals.
The museum has a large collection of ads and slogans and old advertising, including of political nature. Same of them are presenting the mobilization ads during the First and Second World War.
The permanent exhibition also features the dark side of the European history: the WWII and the killing of 6 million Jews. This is a section that is presented through facts and photographies, going diplomatically through what you are expected to see, but without a clear outline of the roots of the phenomenon.
One of the main things I noticed during my history studies was that once in a while, after reading too much historical books, I should take a break. And it is what I was doing, after long hours of being exposed to references, lots of information and details. Life might be much easier without too much past, but it still offers many lessons to be avoided by future generations.