Several headlines have gone out over a proposed plan to place the truck used in the December 19 attack at the Berlin Christmas Market on display at the House of History museum in Bonn, and to no surprise the news has left many feeling a bit stunned at the idea of plans being considered so soon.
“too early to give a definitive answer”
The debate started after Hans Walter Hütter, historian and president of the Haus der Geschichte Foundation in Bonn, was asked during an interview with German press agency DPA whether he would consider placing the attack weapon on display once the investigation was complete.
Hütter’s answer was not a clear yes, in fact he stated that it was “too early to give a definitive answer” and that “to be able to make the right choice, one needs a passage of time”. The response was far from making any serious decision to even fully consider the idea.
After the interview, press outlets were quick to report that decisions were already underway with little evidence to back up that notion. Berlin’s own mayor, Michael Müller, spoke out in criticism of the very idea, calling the consideration of displaying the truck in the museum undignified in an interview with Tagesspiegel on Thursday.
Fewer than ten percent of respondents to an online poll conducted by Svn.de approved of placing the truck on display. But are all of these concerns backed by any real plans?
I went back to the source, the interview held with Hütter on January 4th, to find out just how serious the consideration might be, but the take away was far from what the media has reported. Any report of actual plans should fall into what the media likes to call “fake news”, and we urge readers to actually consult the interview in which this story originates from.
Some key sections of the interview have been translated below with every effort to keep the answers true to their original meaning. Check out the full German interview currently published on the Tagesspiegel website.
Q: Mr. Hütter, will the House of History try to put the truck used to carry out the Berlin terrorist attack on display?
A: It is still too early to give a definitive answer. There is still an investigation underway. And in order to make the right decision, you also need the passage of time. The entire truck would probably be too large. Instead, one would have to consider only showing a certain piece. For example, we show in the museum the door of a Bundeswehr military vehicle, which was shot in Afghanistan.
Q: Most people probably can’t even understand how one could even think of placing such a horrific tool for murder in a museum. Is this not glorifying the actual murderer?
A: The question that we consider is always the same: do the perpetrators as a result reach what they want, namely permanent public attention? So the following considerations are very important for us: the event must not be presented solely from the point of view of the attacker, which would be wrong. But if that topic is of social relevance, and in this case it would indeed be so, then it is part of our history whether we like it or not. If it is our mission to preserve the material heritage of the past, then such topics as this also belong to it. But it must always be in this context. And one always needs a temporal distance in order to properly assess the real facts and consequences that fully surround the event.
Q: What are you thinking? [in response to the comment: In what way the current IS (Islamic State) terrorism entering into Germany will be integrated into our collection is still to be discussed]
A: We have to take various aspects into account: the act itself, the perpetrators and the tools they used, the victims, their relatives and the social consequences that followed. So you need a full collection of the informative objects, documents, photos, and audio/visual contributions.