The date of 8 May 2020 marked the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Europe from Nazi tyranny and the end of World War II in Europe. The project "75th Anniversary of the End of World War II" invited the public to embark on a digital journey through time to Spring 1945 – a journey that remembered the tyranny of the Nazi regime and its lasting consequences and acknowledged the achievements of the Allies in liberating Europe.
The digital project "75th Anniversary of the End of World War II" was staged throughout the anniversary week of 2 – 8 May 2020, spanning the day of Berlin's surrender in 1945 through to the Allied victory over Nazi Germany on 8 May. The project featured a virtual exhibition, a series of podcasts and an augmented reality app. Complemented by a citywide awareness campaign, this content reached several hundred thousand people. The 8th of May, which the State of Berlin declared a one-off public holiday in 2020, presented an opportunity to take an unequivocal stand against fascism and war and to call for peace. On the evening of 8 May, the Brandenburg Gate was illuminated with the words "Thank you" in several languages. This message from Berlin to the world expressed our gratitude to the Allies for liberating Europe from the tyranny of National Socialism.
Due to great demand, the virtual exhibition "To Berlin and Beyond" will be available online through to 2 September 2020, the day marking the official conclusion of World War II, and can be experienced on www.75jahrekriegsende.berlin. The podcast series "To Berlin and Beyond" and the augmented reality app "Augmented Berlin" will be available online indefinitely via Spotify and Apple Podcasts or can be downloaded from the Google Play Store and Apple App Store. The podcast is available in German only.
The contents of the exhibition, its main themes, essays and images can also be found in the published publication „Nach Berlin. Das Ende des Zweiten Weltkriegs – Alltag, Politik, Folgen“. On 248 pages with 189 mostly large-format pictures, experts describe what happened in Berlin and Europe during the last days of World War II and how the end of it became a central reference point for global political order and the culture of remembrance. The chapters are accompanied by the voices of contemporary witnesses.
The anniversary was also marked in Berlin by a poster campaign that contrasted images of the city's devastation in 1945 with the headlines: "It began with an election", "Do you want what you're voting for?" and "One election and its consequences". The posters highlight the fact that it was democratic elections that paved the way to the Nazi dictatorship and that we all bear the responsibility to ensure that history does not repeat itself.
In view of the coronavirus crisis, Kulturprojekte Berlin opted to take its creative content not to the streets, but to where people now spend most of their time: their homes. Using innovative formats, the project fostered dialogue and public debate around the end of World War II, making history accessible to all even in this difficult time.
This project was a collaboration of Kulturprojekte Berlin with the Foundation Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe and the German-Russian Museum Berlin-Karlshorst and was supported by the Senate Department for Culture and Europe. It was developed in cooperation with various partners, including the Topography of Terror Foundation, the Allied Museum, and the German Resistance Memorial Center. Funding for this project was provided by LOTTO-Stiftung Berlin and Berliner Sparkasse.