By Michael Petrou - Wednesday, January 30, 2013 - 0 Comments
Rescuing Germany’s history, one toothbrush at a time
Justinian Jampol created a museum because he had a storage problem.
A decade ago, the young Californian was a graduate student at the University of Oxford, researching visual culture from the Cold War Communist bloc. He worked his way through archives in Berlin and Moscow, but found that the material in them was limited.
“You realize two things,” says Jampol, speaking of the archival material. “They’re the voice of authority, and they’re paper.”
Museums had other flaws. “They’re there to tell you a particular story. There’s a beginning, a middle, an end, and a gift shop. You can’t really engage with it.” Continue…
By Michael Petrou - Monday, August 23, 2010 at 12:00 PM - 0 Comments
A site to commemorate displaced WWII Germans sparks controversy
“We have to throw them out,” said Wladyslaw Gomulka, deputy prime minister of Poland’s Soviet-backed provisional government, in May 1945. Gomulka was referring to ethnic Germans living on Polish land. There were millions of them. Some were colonists who had arrived during the war and took land previously belonging to now-slaughtered Poles. Some found themselves on newly Polish territory when borders were shifted west at the Potsdam Conference in the summer of 1945. Most had been there for generations. Almost all were “thrown out.”
And not only from Poland, but also Czechoslovakia, Hungary and elsewhere in Eastern Europe. More than 10 million Germans were ethnically cleansed as the war on the eastern front turned against Germany, and in the months and years following the end of hostilities. Many who were not thrown out were killed—as many as 700,000 between 1943 and 1947. Those who survived arrived in Germany poor and resentful. Today, almost 70 years later, they and their descendents, who constitute a powerful political lobby in Germany, have secured government support for a documentation centre to commemorate their plight at the German Historical Museum in Berlin.