Hitler's Globe Highlights German Historical Museum's Exhibit

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The globe Adolf Hitler gazed upon while contemplating world domination is in remarkably good condition but for one blemish the bullet hole directly through Berlin, inflicted by a Soviet soldier after the Nazi dictator's defeat in 1945.

The oversized orb is just one highlight of the more than 8,000 artifacts in the German Historical Museum's new permanent display on the country's 2,000-year history, which seeks to help Germans rediscover their identity.

With World War II and the Nazi genocide still in living memory, many Germans have shunned the study of their own past. Museum director Hans Ottomeyer hopes the exhibit can contribute to changing that.

"It is a history that has been shaped by dramatic wars and long periods of peace," Ottomeyer said. "We attempt to show what strategies are used to generate hate, to vilify others, and start wars. On the other hand we show how reasonable policies form the basis for prosperity and times of peace."

Though the 12 years the Nazis were in power makes up one of the largest sections of the exhibit, Ottomeyer said the museum also wanted to make sure to put the era in perspective to show "that there is also another history than the one which found its terrible fulfillment in the 20th century."

The more than 80,000-square-foot exhibition, being officially opened Friday by Chancellor Angela Merkel at the museum on the Unter den Linden boulevard, spans long corridors posted with "milestone" markers in English and German that tell the story of each era. Visitors more interested in a certain period can head off the main path for side exhibits at every stop.

The journey starts in A.D. 9, when Germanic tribes ambushed and destroyed three Roman legions in the Battle of the Teutoburg Forest. The defeat ended Roman plans to extend their power beyond the Rhine River.

Alongside bones from the battlefield is the eerie iron mask from a Roman's helmet dug up at the site in northwestern Germany.

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