Given Germany’s history, the opening of a military museum was bound to be controversial.
But even the design of the newly-revamped building opening on Saturday in Dresden is raising eyebrows. The work of acclaimed US architect Daniel Libeskind, it features a massive wedge of steel, glass and concrete that cuts through the facade. Clearly, this is no ordinary visitor attraction.
Museum Director Colonel Matthias Rogg said the focus, unlike other military museums, is on “the human being. The human as a perpetrator, as a victim or just as a spectator of violent actions.”
Making a conscious effort not to glorify war, the museum tells its story through the ages right up to the current conflict in Afghanistan. One of the exhibits is a German jeep damaged there in an attack in which three soldiers were injured. Some say not enough is made of the Holocaust. Others argue that some exhibits are too brutal.
Bearing in mind its educational role, questions were asked as to whether the venue should feature cruel images of war, dying animals or humans in moving pictures, explained the museum’s Project Director Gorch Pieken. He said the conclusion was that it would be irresponsible not to show them “because otherwise you would leave this museum with the impression that war was something harmless.”
The horrors of nuclear warfare are highlighted at the museum by an art installation evoking the burned imprints of humans caused by an atomic atttack.