A new image for Germany
"It's one of the tragic things of the 20th century that 100 years ago everybody like us would have known so much about German culture and history; we'd all have read German at school or university; we'd expect people to read German; we would know about Germany; and all that stopped after 1945," Neil MacGregor, director of the British Museum, said in a recent interview with Radio Times.
Seventy years after the Second World War, Britain still has an image of Germany that is defined by that period in history. This image, says MacGregor, is being "constantly reinforced" in Britain much more so even than in countries that Germany had occupied.
He now aims to correct that in a 30-part radio series that began on Monday, 29 September on BBC Radio 4. Germany: Memories of a Nation will use around 70 objects, including landmarks and works of art and literature, to revisit 600 years of German history. The programme is a collaboration between the BBC and the British Museum.
"The point of the series is not so much to put the history of the 20th century in a bigger context," says MacGregor, "but it's also saying, 'What has Germany done since 1990?' This is a new country, and a new country needs a new history."
The BBC is airing five episodes a week — one each day, Monday through Friday. The programme is available on the BBC's website, both as a podcast and using the embedded media player.
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See also: Britain's fascination with Germany