At the end, people did what they could to destroy any evidence that they were part of the Third Reich. A lot was just squirreled away and forgotten. In the last decade, as old Nazis have died, their children — exploring old boxes hidden away in attics — have found lots of memorabilia from those times. They donate it to the big state museums, which then store it away. I asked the curator at the great German History Museum in Berlin why there was so little of the excessive pomp and grandeur of the Nazi regime on display. He said that they keep the vast majority of artifacts that might inspire neo-Nazi groups warehoused and out of sight.
Museum visitors can, however, get a glimpse of Germany in the 1930s through exhibits which display the darkest side of the Nazi regime. A poster shows the facial features of people who were part of what was considered “the master race” (and those that didn’t belong). Calipers and hair samples help government officials determine who was of the proper racial stock to be a German citizen. And a huge hall with a dome that would house 180,000 people was envisioned to celebrate a world where the individual is sacrificed for the greatness of the state.
It’s all chilling…and with angry, populist, nativist political movements on the rise in many countries — and with images like those from the deadly white-supremacist rally in Charlottesville in our own country — it’s even more chilling.