The Anti-war museum
The world’s first anti-war museum was founded in Berlin in 1925 by the pacifist and writer Ernst Friedrich. The forerunner of the museum was Friedrich’s photo-documentary in 4 languages “Krieg dem Kriege” (War to War),
which informed about the horrors of the First World War for the first time in Europe and has received a circulation of about half a million copies through constant reprinting.
The museum today
The Anti-War Museum was reopened in 1982, 15 years after the death of its founder Ernst Friedrichs. Ernst Friedrich’s grandson Tommy Spree and a committed group of volunteers – among them many teachers – have been looking after the visitors and the museum’s needs ever since. Today, it is recognised as a non-profit organisation and is largely financed by donations.
The museum, which is housed in a shop flat at Brüsseler Straße 21, 13353 Berlin, has also included an art gallery, the “Peace Gallery”, since 1998.
Today’s Anti-War Museum stands in the tradition of the museum’s founder Ernst Friedrich. The volunteer staff therefore opposes all forms of violence and war. For war is not the means to resolve political conflicts; war means destruction and the abandonment of all human values.
Thus, the supporters of this peace idea want to design exhibitions with pupils, students, artists and politicians that strengthen reason, tolerance and the willingness to reconcile, with the goal of a future world peace, and make it irreversible!
The Anti-War Museum itself aims to appeal primarily to young people and to encourage tolerance and understanding between all people.
Insights into the history and effects of militarism will be conveyed as well as the history of pacifism. In particular, personalities of the peace movement of the last 2500 years are vividly documented in order to show exemplary viable ways and goals for the preservation of peace.
We are a group of peace activists from different nations, different world views and religions who are committed to pacifism but independent of political parties. We have set ourselves the goal of supporting the idea of international understanding, of self-determined and peaceful coexistence of all peoples.
Our museum wants to be a documentation site on war events and on peace work and wants to campaign for détente and disarmament throughout the world by democratic and non-violent means.
In doing so, we want to support other groups and initiatives that have peace among nations as their goal and endorse the principles and actions of the Anti-War Museum, in particular by taking care of youth groups, school classes and interested museum visitors.
The work in the Anti-War Museum should be determined by transparency, democratic decision-making and tolerance towards different opinions with the omission of any speech and thought taboos.
Ernst Friedrich and his museum
The writer and pacifist Ernst Friedrich founded the world’s first resolutely anti-war museum in old Berlin in 1925. His book “Krieg dem Kriege” (War on War), published in 1924 as a photo documentary,
was the most widely distributed pacifist work in Europe at the time and, with its chilling images of World War I, served as the foundation for the Berlin Anti-War Museum.
This museum, which primarily opposed the glorification of war, was intended to serve young people. Here, the reality of war was to gain the highest possible sensual form. The visitor should be affected and experience the “consistent idea of peace” up to a united Europe in peace and freedom. Friedrich thus made an important contribution to a political museum of the present and to political education in general.
In March 1933 – after countless lawsuits against Friedrich’s pacifist work – the Anti-War Museum was stormed by the SA (Sturm-Abteilung of the Nazis) and turned into a notorious torture chamber. Friedrich and his family had to flee Germany.