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Rift through Europe. The consequences of the Hitler-Stalin Pact


Opening: 11th of April, 6 p.m.

in: Gerhard Hauptmann Haus Düsseldorf 

Exhibition runs from 12th of April to 28th of June 

On August 23, 1939, the German Reich and the Soviet Union signed a non-aggression treaty with a secret additional protocol. This treaty is known in history as the Hitler-Stalin Pact or the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact named after the two foreign ministers who signed it. However, it is not only the name that differs, but also the importance attached to the treaty in Western and Eastern Central Europe. This makes the pact a controversial historical issue to this day. As a result of the secret additional protocol, East Central Europe between the Baltic Sea and the Black Sea was divided into a German and a Soviet sphere of interest. Between the signing in 1939 and the German invasion of the Soviet Union on June 22, 1941, both parties brutally enforced this division. While the National Socialist terror spread across Poland and large parts of Western and Northern Europe, a large part of East Central Europe became subject to Stalinist terror. Both parties started wars, annexed territories and killed, deported and expelled people. In Western Europe, the Stalinist terror resulting from the secret additional protocol is little known. In Central and Eastern Europe, however, the consequences are a central event in the confrontation with one's own history. In the last fifteen years, these contradictory meanings have also been reflected at the level of European politics.

The exhibition is a cooperation project between the Chair of Eastern European History at HHU Düsseldorf and the Museum Berlin-Karlshorst. It brings the historical events and processes in East Central Europe between the 23th of August 1939, the signing of the Pact, and the 22nd of June 1941, the beginning of the German invasion of the Soviet Union, as well as their memory, closer to a broad public. It gives a wide public access to the historical-political debates on the Second World War about memories, which have taken on a new intensity especially as a result of Russia's invasion of Ukraine in violation of international law.

Curator of the Exhibition:

Research Assistant

Christoph Meissner M.A.

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