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Roads not taken. Or: Things Could Have Turned Out Differently. German Caesuras 1989–1848

The authors of the companion volume, like the exhibition visitors, pass through German history from 1989 to 1848 – backwards, as it were. In the individual chapters the essays provide detailed examinations of the political entanglements, personal connections, and unexpected occurrences during, for example, the building of the Berlin Wall, the Cold War, the assumption of power by the National Socialists, the revolution and the democratisation of Germany. In the book it was possible to devote more room than in the exhibition to the question of the alternative outcomes that were available at these turning points in history. These possibilities are discussed with the aid of historical documents and additional research, thus opening the way to a new assessment of what actually happened.

This original approach to history, a departure from the straight line, sharpens our consciousness of the historical judgements we make. For this fine line between reality and possibility stimulates a reflection on history, on the relevance of every individual action that was taken at the time, and the ramifications it had for the future. Precisely when faced with current socio-political developments, this can be a useful tool in assessing the relevance of occurrences, questioning the actual facts of the situation, and evaluating the various ways of interpreting it.

EN ISBN: 978-3-40680-095-5

DE ISBN: 978-3-40680-094-8

Published by: Fritz Backhaus, Dan Diner, Julia Franke, Raphael Gross, Stefan Paul-Jacobs und Lili Reyels in the name of the Deutsches Historisches Museum

2023, 288 pages, C.H.Beck