Wednesday, December 13, 2017

The History of Cold War in 100 Objects

The Museum of the Allies - Alliirte Museum - in Berlin hosts until the 28th of January 2018 an exhibition aimed at telling the history of the Cold War in the divided city through 100 objects. 
The museum in itself - which can be visited for free - is an interesting testimony of the post-WWII times, with interesting stories and artifacts told through an interactive, well documented exhibition which includes movies and extensive documentation. In the case of this exhibition, the accompanying leaflet was extremely heavy, at least 100 pages - explaining every artifact in English, German and French - the main languages of Western Berlin during the Cold War. 

Only one quarter of the artifacts are part of the permanent exhibition. As a historian of the mentalities, I am always fascinated by the small stories told by every single simple object, even as humble as a road sign. Or the small pocket shaped piece of paper with the credo of the American soldiers in Berlin. Both the West and the East are covered in the exhibition, which make it a full picture of those times, through the small daily things in life.
You can write perfect Cold War novels by only matching some of the objects. The famous tunnel discovered in the 1990s in the Pankow area of Berlin, aimed at being used as a listening station or for sending spies to the East, is part of the permanent exbition at the Museum and it has its well deserved place among the other 100 Objects of the Cold War. 

For me, it was very interesting to notice how each of the three communities stationed in this city - French, British and American - settled, by the re-creation of their home communities. The French, for instance, had Quartier Foch, which I visited a decade ago, after its residents left long ago. It looked like a ghost city, with its supermarket and street names in French abandoned in a rush, but still there to remember of the recent times. West Berlin was a city with many cities inside, and this exhibition outlines some of the physical - not only mental - border of the time. 
A must see for anyone interested in the Cold War history and histories and Berlin in general.

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