Chancellor Adenauer and President de Gaulle
Adenauer:  Staatsbesuch von Präsident Charles de Gaulle in Deutschland (4.-9. September 1962). Bundeskanzler Adenauer und Präsident de Gaulle stellen sich im Garten des Palais Schaumburg den Fotografen. Foto: Hanns Hubmann. Bildarchiv Preussischer Kulturbesitz.

Chancellor of the Federal Republic of Germany

Gerhard Schröder
 
The date 8th May 2005 commemorates the end of World War II sixty years ago. Even after so long a period of time, the consequences of this harrowing and inhuman war continue to effect us greatly. To mark the sixtieth anniversary of the end of the war in Europe, scores of museums, commemorative sites, cultural and academic institutes, embassies and political institutions will hold an extensive range of events dealing with the topic "Between War and Peace", to which Berlin has dedicated the year 2005. Taking the end of World War II as its starting point, the anniversary year provides an opportunity to approach Germany's post-war history in a balanced manner. Contributions from those who experienced the era and the use of original contemporary documents will not merely provide an account of the events which took place during the war, but, more importantly, they will enable us to obtain a clearer understanding of our recent past. I hope that the theme year "Between War and Peace", with its many interesting events, will see an exceptional degree of participation, and I hope that young people in particular will gain a greater insight into this era from the events which mark the anniversary. I am confident that the theme year will have a positive impact on our understanding of World War II and on our responsibility regarding its effects, which not only include how Germans live with each other, but also how we live with our neighbours.

 

Mayor of Berlin

Klaus Wowereit
 
Though the end of World War II is now sixty years behind us, interest in our recent history remains high. This is particularly true for Berlin, where museums, commemorative sites and countless traces throughout the city bring Germany's immediate past to life. This is one of the reasons why Berlin is so fascinating, both for those who come to visit the city and those who live here. The theme year "Between War and Peace" is an invitation to explore this history. Numerous exhibitions, talks and discussions provide a unique opportunity to approach the recent past from a variety of angles. A date of particular significance is 10th May. The inauguration of the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe is an event of singular importance: it is a symbol against forgetting and a symbol for a democratic and tolerant culture. The theme year is, however, not intended solely as a review of history. It is at the same time an opportunity for us today to clarify our responsibility regarding peace, liberty and democratic rights. The theme year is intended to encourage an active culture of remembrance and of democratic and tolerant civic life in a Berlin which is open-minded and cosmopolitan. I wish the greatest success for the events of the theme year.

 

Between War and Peace

More than any other region, Berlin and Potsdam formed the the focus of German history after World War II: the unconditional surrender of all German forces was signed in the Berlin suburb of Karlshorst on 8th May 1945; the victorious Allies decided the fate of Germany in Potsdam in the summer of 1945; the refugee camp in Marienfelde was for many the first stop on their flight from East to West until the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989; Schönhausen palace saw the final critical phase of the "2+4 Talks", which led to German reunification and ultimately to stability for Central Europe. In the 2005 theme year, original documents, works of art and reports from contemporary figures will provide an insight into the consequences of the war, into political conflicts and into the fates of individual people. The sites of the original events will often be utilised to vividly recount the stories of the victims and illustrate childhood in the post-war period. Choices made then continue to affect us today, and many of the people who survived persecution, war, flight and displacement have remained silent until today about their experiences. Sixty years after the end of the war, "Between War and Peace" provides one of the increasingly rare opportunities to engage in a dialogue with those who can tell us about the events from first-hand experience.

 

1945: the following 60 years

After the end of the war and before the start of peace; absolute victories and complete capitulation; an end and a new beginning; liberation and occupation; Cold War and peaceful revolution - the title of the theme year and this selection of topics from its extensive programme reveal the scope of the events organised to mark the sixtieth anniversary of the end of World War II in Europe. Over 300 museums, commemorative sites, cultural and academic institutes, embassies and political institutions will host numerous exhibitions, film events, concerts, readings and talks to illustrate how they see the state of flux "Between War and Peace" in the decades after 1945, as well as the conflicts caused by World War II and the effects they have had right up to the present day.

 

Remembering for the future

As early as April 1945, a handshake between Soviet and American soldiers on the destroyed bridge over the Elbe at Torgau symbolised the Allies' collective victory over Nazi Germany. Politicians from East and West sealed with handshakes the agreements and alliances which followed - politicians who created the tensions which led to the Cold War as well as those politicians who ultimately contributed to resolving these tensions, and so opened the way to a peaceful Europe. Within the context defined by agreements and treaties and by the actions of individual people, "Between War and Peace" brings memories and history to life in an unparalleled manner, thus contributing to a responsible discussion of Europe's recent past and giving the Europeans of today an opportunity to learn from the past to shape the future.
 


Museumspädagogischer Dienst Berlin,
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