Friday, October 14, 2011
Atop a hill overlooking a city still rebuilding after its near-destruction more than 65 years ago stands a once-staid former armory now slashed in half by a giant shard of glass and steel.
The Museum of Military History in Dresden, redesigned by the American architect Daniel Libeskind and set to open to the public Saturday, is the first war museum to open in Germany since the country's reunification and a study in contrasts appropriate to a nation grappling with its violent past.
The radical $85-million overhaul of the museum, run by the Bundeswehr, the German armed forces, has drawn criticism from all sides, civilian and military alike, with some complaining of excessive antiwar sentiment, some of insufficient attention to the victims of organized violence, and others simply of misguided aesthetics.
Central to the controversy, and the new museum, is the 99-foot, 14,700-ton wedge of steel and glass that cuts through the old arsenal like an enormous piece of shrapnel. The museum was one of the few major buildings to survive the February 1945 firebombing of Dresden by Allied forces, which leveled 80% of the city, and to some of its residents, its dramatic bisection by the modernist wedge is a step too far.