Waxwork Hitler ready for viewing in Berlin show
The Berlin Madame Tussaud's museum opens on Saturday, hosting a now controversial statue of Adolf Hitler
Berlin -- Facing down political and media criticism, Madame Tussaud's has defended its inclusion of an Adolf Hitler statue in a waxworks show set to open in Berlin on Saturday.
German politicians have voiced outrage at the return of the evil Fuehrer to Berlin, though his image does appear regularly in German television history programmes and school textbooks about Nazi war crimes.
Opening its third waxworks museum in Europe, the British-based company, part of Merlin Entertainments, said it was not glorifying Hitler but showing him as a "broken man" on the eve of his Second World War defeat and suicide.
"We are showing him behind a desk in a darkened bunker shortly before his suicide," said Katrin Froemsdorf, a spokeswoman for the Berlin private museum on Unter den Linden boulevard.
The original Madame Tussaud's in the British capital has the Nazi dictator with his fist raised and clenched, staring firmly into the distance with his piercing blue eyes and clearly at the height of his dark powers.
Berlin Mayor Klaus Wowereit wrote to the museum earlier to say he would prefer a wax museum without the Nazi leader.
Historian Johannes Tuchel, who heads the German Resistance Memorial Centre, which is dedicated to remembering those who opposed the dictator, queries whether a waxwork exhibition is the right place for serious history. "It's tasteless," he said.
Lea Rosh, who led the campaign to build Berlin's Holocaust Memorial, denounced the use of Hitler in a form of public amusement.
But Stephen Kramer, general secretary of the Central Council of German Jews, said a wax Hitler could help with demystifying the dictator. Airbrushing the German wartime Fuehrer out of history was "counterproductive," Kramer said.
Tussaud's says it has included explanatory panels of facts about Hitler's misdeeds and a waxwork nearby of one of the Germans who resisted him, Munich university student Sophie Scholl who was executed for distributing anti-Nazi leaflets.
Photos with Hitler and touching of the statue will be prohibited.
"The whole display will be barred off. He will be behind his desk," said Froemsdorf.
The opening of the 75-figure museum has been moved forward from the original date, next Wednesday, to this Saturday.