History

Replica of part of Hitler's bunker sparks controversy in Berlin

Interior view of a replica of the living room and office of Adolf Hitler pictured in a high-rise bunker, not the original so called 'Fuehrer's-Bunker', in Berlin, Germany, Thursday, Oct. 27, 2016. The room is part of an exhibition, located in a World War II high-rise bunker, which offers an overview of the history of Hitler's bunker and the end of the war.

Interior view of a replica of the living room and office of Adolf Hitler pictured in a high-rise bunker, not the original so called 'Fuehrer's-Bunker', in Berlin, Germany, Thursday, Oct. 27, 2016. The room is part of an exhibition, located in a World War II high-rise bunker, which offers an overview of the history of Hitler's bunker and the end of the war.  (AP Photo/Michael Sohn)

A private Berlin museum has sparked controversy after it unveiled a replica of part of the bunker where Adolf Hitler spent the final phase of World War II. 

The replica of Hitler's office went on display Thursday in a former air-raid shelter some 1¼ miles from the site of the real bunker demolished long ago. Hitler killed himself in the bunker on April 30, 1945.

Curator Wieland Giebel says the Berlin Story Museum isn't staging a "Hitler show."

Giebel tells new agency dpa that the replica only can be seen on a guided tour beginning in a shelter that was meant for 3,500 people and by the war's end housed 12,000, a contrast with the comparatively spacious Fuehrer bunker.

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The nearby Topography of Terror museum, which documents Nazi crimes, criticized the reproduction as showmanship.

"We explain history, document it, and stick to the facts. That is why we cannot support such productions," Kay-Uwe von Damaros, a spokesman for Topography of Terror museum, said according to German publication The Local. "Sensationalism isn't our thing."

The Berlin Story Museum’s reproduction of the part of the bunker contains a grandfather clock, an oxygen canister, and a picture of Frederick the Great, according to The Local. Photography there is banned.

An information board with text and a schematic marks the site of the actual “Fuehrerbunker.”

Adam Kerpel-Fronius, of the Berlin Holocaust Memorial, told The Local that while there had been a concern that the information board would lure neo-Nazis, that hasn’t happened.

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“Everyone who comes to Berlin and is interested in history knows that the “Führerbunker” existed. They would be surprised if they could only find a car park at its location,” Kerpel-Fronius said.

This is not the only controversy in Germany regarding the topic of Hitler in recent years, an issue that has at its core the question of how best to explore the country’s history.

At the beginning of 2016, Hitler’s infamous treatise, "Mein Kampf," was re-published in an annotated edition after the copyright expired— the idea being that analyzing the anti-Semitic book critically was better than banning it.

“Actually reading it, rather than regarding the book as dangerous and seductive, takes away any power from a text that is clearly nothing more than an incoherent and badly written rant,” Damien McGuinness wrote for the BBC in January.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.