German Historical Museum
The German Historical Museum is Germany’s national historical museum. Located in Berlin’s historic district of Mitte, it sees itself as a place of active communication and discussion of history.
In Western Germany, by the end of the 1970s and during the 1980s, the idea of establishing a history museum that will focus on the national history, including a perspective of the German history after 1945, fired up the German society. Experts, historians, art-historians, politicians, and institutions debated on the relevance and feasibility of such a project within a federal state.
Meanwhile, in the Eastern part of Germany, the museum committed to the idea of German history from a socialist point of view initially, and eventually of the GDR history, was fully functional since January 1952 in East Berlin as the Museum of German History (MfDG). This was located in the former Armoury House ('Zeughaus') on Unter den Linden Street.
Officially presented to the public in 1987 as ‘a gift from West Germany to the people of West Berlin’, the founding of the German Historical Museum in Berlin, under Federal Chancellor Helmut Kohl's guidance, was part of the 750th commemoration festivities honoring the city of Berlin. Without a location of its own yet, nor a permanent collection, the concept of the national museum developed in strong opposition to its counterpart in Eastern Berlin. Its main goal was to present through innovative and modern techniques the German history within the European context and thus contributing to raising awareness about the historical past.
The proposed plan for the museum building of the architect Aldo Rossi was dismissed as soon as the events of 1989 enfolded with the outcome of MfDG's closure as of June 1990. This created the premises for the German Historical Museum to settle in the former Armoury building becoming in the course of the German reunification Germany's national historical museum, incorporating in its collections also the former collections of the GDR' Museum for German History, which became obsolete in the newly created political context.
Together with the library, cinema and exhibition space the German Historical Museum is actively involved in including and presenting the GDR history in various events, and permanent and temporary exhibitions.
Berlin Unter den Linden 2, Germany 10117
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Date of founding
Type of organisation
- public foundation
Author(s) of this page
- Demeter, Laura
Andrews, Mary-Elizabeth. “Memory of the Nation”: Making and re-making German history in the Berlin Zeughaus, Doctoral Thesis, Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences University of Sydney, September, 2014.
Ottomeyer Hans, Czech Hans-Jörg, Deutsche Geschichte in Bildern und Zeugnissen, Deutsch Historisches Museum, Edition Minerva, 2007.
Demeter, Laura. ‘Picking up the pieces: traces of the communist past in Bucharest and Berlin.’ In: ICOM International Conference: Museums and Politics, 9-14 Sept. 2014, St. Petersburg, Yekaterinburg, Russia pp. 323-334.