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German History in Documents and Images
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Honor Guard in Front of the Memorial to the Victims of Fascism and Militarism ("Neue Wache"), Unter den Linden, East Berlin (1983)
The "Neue Wache" (New Guard House), which had been severely damaged in World War II, underwent a thorough reconstruction beginning in the mid-1950s. In May 1960, the "Neue Wache" was rededicated as a “Memorial to the Victims of Fascism and Militarism.” The recasting of the memorial was part of the GDR’s attempt to portray itself as the legitimate heir to Germany’s antifascist movement. Starting on May 1, 1962, an honor guard from the guard regiment “Friedrich Engels” of National People’s Army [NVA] was posted in front of the memorial. On the GDR’s 20th anniversary in 1969, an eternal flame was lit inside the building and two urns were buried there – one for an unknown resistance fighter and another for an unknown soldier. Thus, the "Neue Wache" came to symbolize both the GDR’s claim to antifascist renewal and the increasing militarization of East German society. Photograph by Gerhard Kiesling.