On the evening of 8 May, the 75th anniversary of the end of World War II, the Brandenburg Gate was illuminated at 11.30 p.m. for 30 minutes, showing the lettering “Danke” (Thank you!) in different languages. 75 years ago on 8 May 1945, in the late hours of the night, the Wehrmacht surrendered unconditionally. With the projection, Berlin has sent a signal, a message and is thanking the Allies for the liberation of Europe from Nazi tyranny. At the same time, it marks the end of the digital theme week “75th Anniversary of the End of World War II” – though its content continues to be available: the virtual exhibition “To Berlin and Beyond” will be online until 2 September, the international day of the End of the War, on www.75jahrekriegsende.berlin. The app “Augmented Berlin” and the podcast series “To Berlin and Beyond” can be downloaded in the Google Play Store or Apple App Store and on Spotify and Apple Podcasts respectively.
The theme week, including the city-wide campaign, reached several hundred thousand people over the past few days. "This makes us proud and is at the same time consolation for the cancelled events on 8 May", Moritz van Dülmen, CEO of Kulturprojekte Berlin, sums up.
For the anniversary, Kulturprojekte Berlin commemorated the tyranny of the Nazi regime and its its lasting consequences with the project “75th anniversary of the end of World War II” as a digital theme week from 2—8 May, thus acknowledging the achievements of the Allies in liberating Europe from Nazi rule. Visiting locations across Berlin – including the Brandenburg Gate and Pariser Platz – the project "75th Anniversary of the End of World War II" highlights the contemporary relevance of this historical event.
The centrepiece of the project's three digital components is the virtual exhibition "To Berlin and Beyond" – an invitation to learn about and experience the final days of the war and the liberation of Europe from National Socialism in May 1945. Visiting four key locations in and near Berlin – the Brandenburg Gate, the Reichstag, Alexanderplatz and the former concentration camp in Sachsenhausen. 360-degree panorama views, immersing users in the devastated landscape of Berlin through pictures, animated elements, sound clips and interviews with eyewitnesses. The exhibition also sheds lights on the ruptures and continuities of the post-war period, explores the ambivalence of the concept of "liberation" and engages with contemporary issues.
The podcast series "To Berlin and Beyond" takes listeners to six historical locations in Berlin, exploring a different topic and location in each episode and grappling with historical events and their significance today – from anti-fascism to moral courage. Furthermore, prominent personalities such as Shermin Langhoff, Raul Krauthausen, Klaus Lederer, Daniel Hope, Daniel Barenboim, Juna Grossmann or Fetsum are giving statements to demonstrate their points of view. You can listen to the podcast on Apple Podcats, Spotify or on www.75jahrekriegsende.berlin.
With the app „Augmented Berlin“, the past is resurrected through Augmented Reality technology. Beginning on 8 May 1945 amidst the ruins of Berlin's Pariser Platz, the app takes users on a journey through time to the year 1933, before covering the events of the intervening years to end again in 1945. Users will witness the gradual exclusion of Berlin's Jewish citizens from public life, through to their deportation from 1941 onwards. The stories are based on interviews and autobiographies and are brought to life visually. The app provides a platform to showcase AR content covering a variety of topics related to Berlin, and more content will be added to in the future. “Augmented Berlin“ can be downloaded in the Google Play Store or Apple App Store and is already in the Top 50 of Apple App Stores education section.
The digital offers received increased attention during the theme week, thus demonstrating that dialogue and public debate around the end of World War II is even possible during the Corona crisis and in times of Social Distancing. The digital project, which was originally planned as an open-air exhibition and public event, was also made possible by the extensive participation of numerous partners.
This project is a collaboration of Kulturprojekte Berlin with the Foundation Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe and the German-Russian Museum Berlin-Karlshorst and is supported by the Senate Department for Culture and Europe. The project was developed in cooperation with other partners, including the Topography of Terror Foundation, the Allied Museum and the German Resistance Memorial Center. Funding for this project is provided by LOTTO-Stiftung Berlin and Berliner Sparkasse.
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