On June 20, 2012 the Exhibition Complex of the State Historical Museum at 2/3 Revolution Square (Ploshchad Revolutsii) will host an exhibition called “Russians and Germans: 1000 Years of History, Art and Culture”.
The exhibition opens the Crisscross Year of Russia and Germany 2012/2013 and is being held under the patronage of the Russian President Vladimir Putin and the German President Joachim Gauck.
The joint cultural and historical project combines in a single exhibition space over seven hundred exhibition items provided by 67 participants from Russia and Germany, as well as museums and archives in Austria, Switzerland, Italy and Latvia.
From the State Historical Museum, the exhibition will be moved to the New Museum in Berlin, where it will run from October 6, 2012 to March 13, 2013.
For the first time, the Russian and German public are invited to peruse a massive collection of museum pieces, archival photos and film footage designed to show the historical depth and diversity of the forms of contact between Russians and Germans and their influence on each other. The exhibition covers the 10th-20th centuries, from the Middle Ages to the era achievements and upheavals of recent times—a thousand years of the history of our peoples, with many pages in common.
The tragic events of the recent past still occasionally overshadow in everyday consciousness the entire rich peaceful experience of previous centuries. The history of relations between Russians and Germans demonstrates that military conflicts are not always the dominant element of these relations.
From ancient times, contact between Russians and Germans spanned a variety of spheres of human existence. The exhibition features items relating to different aspects of the historical life of the two nations and peoples: diplomacy, literature, economics, science, architecture, literature, commerce, cinematography, etc.The corresponding sections of the exhibition treat not only historical milestones, but also people’s lives and individual events.
The exhibition is unique in that more than half of the exhibition items are being displayed for the first time.
There are ancient manuscripts of great historical and literary value, such as the Izbornik (hand-written collected writings) of Prince Sviatoslav (1073) and the Egbert Psalter (circa 980), which present the first portraits of Russian-German families.
Of the many royal gifts on display, there are items from the Amber Room given by the Prussian king Friedrich Wilhelm I to Peter the Great, and a large portrait of the giant Russian soldier Svirid Rodionov, one of the giant grenadiers who served in the Prussian emperor’s garrison.
Visible traces of contacts between Russia and Germany include archeological finds from the territory stretching from the shores of the Rhine to Siberia.
Important artistic evidence of trade relations in the Middle Ages includes embossed wooden panels from the 14th century from the Church of St. Nicholas in Stralsund, one of the Hanseatic cities on the Baltic coast, depicting Russian hunters on the hunt for fur animals.
Opening the section of items that tell about the relations between the two countries is a magnificent portrait of the diplomat Baron Sigismund Herberstein, the author of the famous Notes on Muscovy, which became a bestseller in Western Europe in the 16th-17th centuries.
Among the items pertaining to the history of the anti-Napoleonic coalition are swords awarded to the generals M. Platov and G. Blucher, portraits of Major-General I.I. Diebitsch and Lieutenant-General H. Yorck, who signed the Convention of Tauroggen in 1812.
Literary relics include the notebook of F.M. Dostoyevsky with draft notes of the novel The Possessed, created in Germany, autographs of Goethe, Schiller, FI. Tyutchev and A. Bely.
Paintings by A. Ivanov, O. Kiprensky, F. Overbeck, K. Friedrich and others give the viewer an idea of the artistic cultural ties between Russia and Germany.
Materials relating to the design and construction of the Cathedral of Christ the Savior and the Cologne Cathedral are evidence of philosophical parallels in architecture.
Scale models, photographs and drawings tell of how the German architects O. Klenze, E. Mendelson, E. May and others were hired to help design and build the New Hermitage building in the city of Magnitogorsk, the Red Flag textile factory and others.
Three centuries of scientific ties are illustrated graphically in materials related to M.V. Lomonosov, T. Miller, I. Berkhanom, T. Geissler, P. Pallas, N.V. Timofeyev-Resovsky and others.
The exhibition includes landmark international agreements of recent history, including the Rapallo Treaty (1922), under which Soviet Russia and Germany recognized each other as equal partners, and the Non-Aggression Pact between Germany and the USSR (1939).
While we remember the past, it is so important that all of us—in Russia and Germany—concern ourselves with the future. A future without wars and upheavals. A future in which historical and cultural experience will be able to save us from tragic mistakes.
The motto of the official Year of Germany in Russia and the Year of Russia in Germany 2012/2013 is “Germany and Russia: Building the Future Together”