Epoch tours

60 minutes
€ 75 per tour
max. 25 people plus admission

From Charlemagne to the Thirty Years' War (800–1648)

Beginning with Charlemagne, this tour examines the rule of the emperors of the Holy Roman Empire and the estate-based order of the Middle Ages. Original knight's armour and weapons, artefacts of communal self-government as well as sacred relics illustrate the different worlds of the medieval estates of the nobility, commoners and clergy. The printing press, exploration of other continents and the Reformation movement initiated by Martin Luther usher in a new era. Confessional and power-political conflicts lead to the devastating Thirty Years' War. The Peace of Westphalia weakens the power of the emperor and strengthens the position of the German princes and the influence of the European rulers on the Empire.

From Absolutism to the Enlightenment (1648–1789)

Terrific paintings and exquisite tableware demonstrate the wealth and power of absolutist rulers in Europe after the Thirty Years' War. Their recurring conflicts with the Ottoman Empire are symbolised by an impressive big tent from the time of the Siege of Vienna in the late 17th century. In the following decades, Prussia rises to become a great power in Europe, manifested through the building of the Berlin Zeughaus (arsenal) and further expansion of Berlin as a royal residence. An original uniform of Frederick the Great is the centrepiece of a consideration of the further expansion of the Prussian state and the royal conception of sovereign rule on the basis of “Prussian virtues”. The fundamental questioning of absolutist ideas of power by the champions of the enlightenment leads to epochal changes.

From the French Revolution to the First World War (1789–1918)

This tour through the “long 19th century” begins with the French Revolution and Napoleon's expansionary policy that came to an end at the Battle of Waterloo in 1815. A hat of Napoleon's and other preserved artefacts from these wars are a testament to the Berlin Zeughaus's (arsenal) long history of collection. The national movements in Germany and Europe that had been quelled in the aftermath of the Vienna Congress re-emerge in revolutionary revolts in 1848. This tour takes a look at the first democratic German constitution adopted by the Frankfurt Assembly. However, German unification only takes place under Prussian rule in 1871. Everyday articles give an impression of the renewed rise of social contrasts in the time of the German Empire. The tour concludes with an examination of colonial and naval policy and the advent of the First World War.

From the Weimar Republic to the Nazi Regime (1918–1945)

The disputes regarding Germany's role in the First World War, its defeat and the consequences of the Treaty of Versailles cast a shadow over the democratic renewal of the Weimar Republic. The situation stabilises after the turbulent year of 1923. A plethora of objects bear witness to the liberalisation of society and the changing leisure and consumption habits of the population in the “Golden Twenties”. The world economic crisis and the political radicalisation of the German populace lead to the demise of the republic. In 1933, Adolf Hitler is named Chancellor. Propaganda materials and artefacts of the early persecution of social minorities cast a light on the rise of the dictatorship. With the invasion of Poland and the start of the Second World War, the National Socialist policies of persecution and destruction intensify. The tour concludes with US film material that documents the scale of the devastation of German cities in the summer of 1945.

From a Divided Germany to Reunification (1945–1994)

After the end of the Second World War, the Allies determine the contours of the political renewal in Germany. Beyond the negotiations in pursuit of a common Germany policy, the first exhibit area documents the differing living conditions faced by the populations in the four occupation zones. The conflict between the Western powers and the Soviet Union comes into sharp relief through the introduction of the D-Mark in 1948 and the Berlin Airlift. Starting with a German Democratic Republic (GDR) border post, the tour examines the beginnings of the division of Germany. In the separate exhibit areas on the history of the GDR and the Federal Republic, the tour uses the Beetle and the Trabi as vehicles for a look at the different day-to-day realities of life in the West and the East. In 1961, the leadership of the GDR reacts to the rising tide of emigration and escapees by building the Berlin Wall, original sections of which are included in the exhibit. Original transparencies from demonstrations in Berlin show the Peaceful Revolution that heralded the end of the GDR. The tour concludes with the German reunification.