A booty of war and emblem of unbridled ambition, the Nazi dictator's desktop globe is the centerpiece of a new and privately organized exhibit, "World War II Through Russian Eyes" opening Thursday for a month-long run in the atrium of the new Reagan federal office building.
The privately organized exhibit draws its uniforms, weapons, film, photographs, posters, paintings and other artifacts and documents from the archives of Russia's military.
Most of the items have never been seen in the West and many, including Hitler's globe, are said to have never been displayed anywhere.
From Hitler's bunker: the Nazi dictator's personal standard and flag, uniform jacket, walking stick and war maps.
From the Kremlin: the maps that Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin used to follow the course of the war, as well as a collection of personal items he kept on top of his own desk.
"This is the opening up of the Russian military archives, an opportunity to see firsthand the impact of the war on the Eastern Front," exhibit organizer Mark Talisman said at a recent news conference. "We were able to have total access to all of these artifacts."
In a 50-seat theater, films shot by the Soviet signal corps show the devastating 900-day siege of Leningrad, the battle for Berlin and the celebration of the end of the war in Red Square.
Hitler's invasion is estimated to have cost 26 million Soviet lives, both military and civilian. Many Russians believe that the nation's wartime torment has never been fully appreciated in the West.
A film clip shows the Russian experience in what Talisman calls "World War II in three-and-one-half minutes."
In it, shells explode, bombs fall, tanks roll, soldiers charge, refugees flee, German soldiers surrender, the Soviet flag is raised over the Reichstag in Berlin, a bearded Russian soldier dances and triumphant Soviet soldiers dump captured German battle standards in a heap as Stalin watches.
The exhibit is financed by Florida entrepreneur Kermit Weeks, an aerobatic pilot and collector of antique aircraft. He opened negotiations for the exhibition of Soviet military artifacts while traveling in Russia searching for historic aircraft.
Weeks declined to disclose the cost of the exhibition but Talisman said it was in the range of $500,000. Corporate sponsors are being sought, Talisman said.
The exhibit is free to the public in Washington. An entry fee will be chaged when it travels to five other U.S. cities, still to be named.
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