Robert Hopkins: Munich still haunted by Nazi-era buildings

Roundup: Talking About History

Robert Hopkins lives in Munich.

Last Sunday, I was walking from the main station in Munich to the Neue Pinakothek art gallery. But I never got there. On the way, I discovered a new detailed information board with a map showing the location of many former Nazi buildings in the area known as Maxvorstadt, to the north of the city centre, and I decided to investigate.

This showed both existing buildings and the sites of buildings destroyed in the bombing raids on the city during on October 2 and 3 1943 and on January 7 1945. Nearby is another information board with details of the new Documentation Centre for the History of National Socialism, planned to open at the end of 2013 on the site of the former so-called Brown House, the Nazi Party HQ in the city.

Naturally, such a centre will inevitably attract neo-Nazis but it is good that this did not stop those who initiated the project to go ahead, allowing people interested in knowing exactly what happened in the city in the dark days of the Thirties and Forties as the Nationalist Socialist German Workers’ Party took control of the country.

Indeed, it will also be a symbol of the country’s new confidence. Germany has more than proved itself after more than 60 years as a democracy and it remains an economic powerhouse that single-handedly absorbed 17 million East Germans in 1989. It seems increasingly likely, too, to have to help bail out the faltering economies of its weaker eurozone partners....

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