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Exhibition view in the Peenemünde Historical Technical Museum, 2023


The ruins of Peenemünde - Of the growth and decay of an armament landscape

Exhibition and publication project in collaboration with the Peenemünde Historical Technical Museum


February 2, 2023 to March 31, 2024 at the Peenemünde Historical Technical Museum


Coming soon at Quintus Verlag

About the project

The Peenemünde test sites, where the army and air force brought unmanned remote weapons with new types of propulsion to operational readiness during the Second World War, were a large-scale research facility with hundreds of laboratory and office buildings, workshops, test benches, production plants, 80 kilometres of rail network, roads, harbours, airfield, supply and disposal facilities, settlements and camps. These infrastructures made it possible for up to 12,000 people to live, work and realise highly ambitious projects in the previously scarcely populated north of the island. However, the war was not only prepared in Peenemünde, but also returned to the site through four Western Allied air raids. After the Wehrmacht had abandoned Peenemünde at the end of the war, the Red Army occupied the facilities, continued to use them for a short time, brought machines and entire building sections into their own country and blew up most of the remaining facilities. What was still usable was used to rebuild destroyed places in the region, and the rest disappeared into the green.
The new exhibition shows 47 large-format images by Berlin-based photographer Lorenz Kienzle, who captured the state of the ruined Peenemünde landscape in 2018/19 and 2022. They are juxtaposed with photos of the construction and operation of the facilities. On a third level, objects are on display - both structural relics and ground finds from the surroundings of these facilities, such as technical devices, tools, everyday objects or material witnesses of the war. The combination of these types of exhibits points to the value of Peenemünde's historical landscape for understanding history and makes visible the work and life of the thousands of people who did not work at exposed sites - and many of them under duress. In addition, the exhibition presents the cultural studies and archaeological approach to Peenemünde's history, which complements the historiographical methods. How do archaeologists research a place of modernity? What questions arise from a material approach, and what answers does it provide that written and pictorial sources cannot? The photographs of the ruins encourage reflections on how man has reshaped the landscape and how arrogant and ephemeral was the claim to win the Second World War with advanced weaponry. The exhibition aims to create an equally scientific and aesthetic approach to the historical site of Peenemünde.

Text: Michael Gericke