It's hard to find controversy in a wax museum. But with the Berlin version of Madame Tussauds set to open at the beginning of July, some are not overjoyed by the collection of famous Germans the museum is putting on display. Boris Becker won't raise any eyebrows. Neither will Albert Einstein. But some are questioning the need to put a wax model of Adolf Hitler on display.
Michael Braun, of the center-right Christian Democratic Union (CDU) told the Thursday edition of the Berlin daily Der Tagesspiegel it was "distasteful beyond comparison." Green politician Alice Ströver called the Hitler wax figure "tasteless, disgusting and in bad style," the paper reported Thursday.
Museum organizers have defended the decision, arguing that the Third Reich dictator was an important part of German history. Surveys have shown that a majority of Germans think he should be included.
Katrin Frömsdorf, a spokeswoman for the museum, told SPIEGEL ONLINE, that the context in which Hitler will be exhibited was very carefully chosen. "We took great care that Adolf Hitler was exhibited in an historically correct context," she said. "He is shown during his last days, looking rather dejected and raddled." The museum has not yet released pictures of the Hitler figure saying it is not quite finished.
The museum's organizers have also ensured that visitors cannot take souvenir photographs with the dictator: Hitler is the only wax figure people cannot touch or pose next to, as he will be exhibited in an area sealed off to the public -- standing behind a table in a war-time bunker.
Four years ago, the owner of a wax museum near Checkpoint Charlie set off an international protest by including a wax figure of Hitler. That figure, however, was displayed next to Winston Churchill and without sufficient historical commentary. Madame Tussauds' efforts to isolate Hitler in its exhibition have satisfied most observers and, despite some critical voices, condemnation this time around has been limited.
Other figures from Germany's history and present will likewise populate the museum. Visitors will find Germany's former chancellors, Pope Benedict XVI, the ever-popular Dalai Lama and Erich Honecker, a former leader of Communist East Germany.
Visitors who want to take a break after so much politics and history can lie down on Sigmund Freud's couch -- just one of many interactive exhibits people can have a go on themselves. Ludwig van Beethoven will also be there. Spokeswoman Frömsdorf said: "You'll be able to take an IQ test to see if you're more intelligent than Albert Einstein, play on an interactive piano or take a psychological test with Freud."
Among the other German cultural icons on display will be Marlene Dietrich, Bertolt Brecht, actress Romy Schneider and TV presenter Thomas Gottschalk. Visitors will also be able to get up close to German sports stars from the present and past: There will be wax figures of tennis player Boris Becker and footballers Jürgen Klinsmann and Franz Beckenbauer. Visitors brave enough can also take on recently retired goal keeper Oliver Kahn in a penalty shoot-out.
As well as famous German names, the exhibition on Berlin's Unter den Linden, will have a host of international stars: visitors can rub shoulders with the likes of Madonna, George Clooney, Justin Timberlake and Robbie Williams.
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