BERLIN – The former Berlin headquarters of notorious East German Stasi secret police, which is now a museum, will host from Thursday an exhibition examining the post-war personality cult that Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin wielded over the communist authorities in the now-defunct German Democratic Republic, authorities said.
A huge statue of Stalin that once stood in East Berlin, propaganda materials, photography, films and books curated for the “The Red God: Stalin and the Germans” special exhibition, provide an insight into how the man who ruled over the Soviet Union with an iron fist between 1922-52 was, perhaps ironically, revered in the GDR.
“He is one of the worst mass murderers in history, but in the GDR he was worshipped as the ‘greatest genius of our era,’” Visit Berlin, the city’s official tourist office, said in a statement.
Hubertus Knabe, scientific director of the Berlin-Hohenschönhausen Memorial, the documentation center and museum at the former Stasi prison, said the idolatry invested in a genocidal overlord was incomprehensible from today’s point of view, but it “demonstrates the capacity for the manipulation of the masses.”
Knabe said that from 1949, four years after the defeat of Nazi Germany, the cult of Stalin being cultivated and exported by Moscow’s propaganda machine was adopted by GDR officials without hesitation and that its legacy extended far beyond the dictator’s death in 1953
“Mass marches, Stalin monuments and larger-than-life portraits of the dictator on the walls of the house formed the instruments of a centrally orchestrated propaganda,” the statement said. “Industrial plants, numerous streets and an entire town bore Stalin’s name,” it added.
Before being officially presented at the exhibition, Stalin’s statue was to spend a short time erected in the Berlin street where it once stood.
The sculpture, a work by Soviet artist Nikolai Tomski, disappeared from Berlin after it was removed but and was re-discovered in Mongolia, where it was refurbished and brought back to Germany.