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  • Writer's pictureDr Julien Drouart

Allied Museum: Approach to the American Colony

Updated: Jun 24



The Allied Museum is a reminder of the strategic importance of the Allied presence in West Berlin during the Cold War. It is a bit old-fashioned, but nevertheless a beautiful discovery.


The Museum is Worth a Visit


While museums and memorial spaces dedicated to the former East Germany have multiplied in Berlin since German reunification, following a well-structured agenda, the existence of West Berlin hasn't attracted the same level of interest and has surprisingly faded from the national narrative.


Yet, the western sectors of the city had chosen an abnormal normality during the Cold War, specifically the choice to live encapsulated within a foreign and hostile territory. By embracing the Western model, West Berliners cultivated a different perspective on the presence of the American, British, and French occupying forces, which gradually came to be seen as protective; the 1948/49 Blockade being a seminal episode. Despite the challenging 1970s, this friendship endured.


The departure of the allied troops in 1994 paved the way for official recognition, and the Allied Museum was inaugurated in the heart of the former American sector.


A Diverse and Complementary Museography


The Museum is situated within the original buildings of the American community. The Outpost cinema hosts an exhibition dedicated to the immediate post-war years, tackling the issues of denazification and the democratization of German society, using high-quality artifacts and iconography.


These themes quickly give way to the grandiose depiction of the Berlin Blockade. Unfortunately, the museography proves somewhat chaotic and ultimately difficult to navigate, as information is presented without a clear guiding thread. In the other building, a second exhibition discusses the Allied presence from 1949 until the troops' departure. Again, despite certain curiosities, the whole lacks intuitive structure.


The main interest and real value of the Museum lie outside, where larger exhibits are displayed. Visitors will see a watchtower from the fourth phase of the Berlin Wall's construction, a French military train carriage, the actual Checkpoint Charlie, and notably, a British air force aircraft that took part in supplying West Berlin during the Blockade. Access to the interiors of these outdoor exhibits is only available on guided tours.



A Museum for Understanding West Berlin Yesterday and Today


Off the typical tourist trail, the Allied Museum reminds visitors of the importance of the Allied presence for the very existence of West Berlin and, by extension, all of West Germany. It's easy to comprehend the significance of an event like the Blockade, which perhaps forms the fundamental building block of the West German state. In this context, the title of the permanent exhibition, 'How Enemies Became Friends,' clearly signifies the challenges of the era and those of today.


Though the museum's arrangement suffers from complex accessibility, this can be quickly remedied by opting for a guided tour, keeping in mind that admission to the museum is free.


Above all, the absence of a one-sided approach is commendable. The narrative of West Berlin isn't built on disparaging the Soviet model; instead, it enhances the West Berlin identity by emphasizing the Allied presence. Ultimately, the Museum is crucial for visitors wishing to understand West Berlin.


Reasons to Visit

  • The history of West Berlin finally highlighted

  • The impressive collection of larger exhibits

  • Trilingual information

Reasons to Skip

  • An outdated and inaccessible exhibition

  • Large exhibits only accessible with a guided tour

  • Location is quite remote and difficult to reach from Mitte

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