War Is Only the Tip of the Iceberg. The first casualty of war is truth.
Gorch Pieken stands in the entrance hall of the museum. He’s wearing tinted glasses, the top two buttons on his shirt are undone and his blond hair is tied back in a ponytail. “War is only the tip of the iceberg,” he says. “We’re interested in what’s below the waterline.” Pieken studied in Cologne, and then worked for the German Historical Museum in Berlin for 10 years. When the Defense Ministry asked him to become the museum’s scientific director, he jumped at the chance.
Over the years, he has managed to amass a wealth of exhibits that are surprising because they tell stories that have never been told. Stories like that of the nameless girl who sorted the shoes of the deceased in a concentration camp in Lublin, Poland. Shortly after writing a poem entitled “Dead Shoes,” she too was sent to the gas chamber. But her poem survived, and fellow prisoners learnt it off by heart. When the museum opens in October, the poem will be displayed alongside the shoes of concentration camp prisoners. Although the museum is still under construction and many of its exhibits are still in storage, its emotive power is already becoming apparent.