Posts Tagged ‘obsession’

Germans are ‘bewildered’ by British obsession with the Second World War, director of British Museum says

September 27th, 2014

In an interview with the Radio Times, MacGregor disclosed the aim of the series is to examine “what else” happened in Germany, detailing the “new country” which has emerged since the fall of the Berlin Wall.

Speaking of the German people, he said: “They have huge admiration for the political traditions, the political stability, huge admiration for the way Britain fought the Second World War, fascinated and delighted by the sport…

“But very dismayed that when they come to Britain, they’re greeted with Nazi salutes!

“Bewildered that Britain doesn’t want to appear to know about Germany now, but wants to freeze the relationship as it was 70 years ago.”

He added the image of German history being centred on the Second World War is “constantly reinforced” in Britain “in a way that it isn’t in other countries”, including those which have “far more reason to be obsessed with German evil, having been occupied”.

“It’s one of the tragic things of the 20th century that 100 years ago everybody like us would have known so much about German culture and history,” he said. “We’d all have read German at school or university, we’d expect people to read German, we would know about Germany – and all that stopped after 1945.”

Speaking of the current political and cultural situation, he told the magazine: “Germany wants allies. One of the things they’ve learnt from the past is not only that power is dangerous, but acting alone is also dangerous.

“So they want counsel and friends and they would be very happy for Britain to play that role. Whether Britain wants to play that role, and whether Britain sees itself as wanting to be Germany’s friend, I don’t know.”

The new BBC Radio 4 series follows a successful partnership with the British Museum for A History of the World in 100 Objects.

The Germany series will now be told in 30 episodes, focusing on around 70 objects from the VW Beetle, Meissen porcelain, and the art of Richter, Durer and Holbein, to the Reichstag and Brandenburg Gate. An accompanying exhibition opens at the British Museum in October.

MacGregor said: “The point of the series is not so much to put the history of the 20th century in a bigger context, but it’s also saying, ‘What has Germany done since 1990?’ This is a new country, and a new country needs a new history.”


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