As a German high school or college student, you will be familiar with the scenario: A homework assignment requires you to locate reliable information about William II, the Emperor of the German Empire, and the deadline is tomorrow. It’s late in the evening, every library is closed, and the only tool left is the World Wide Web. If this sounds familiar to you, don’t panic. Take a moment and let me take you on a digital journey to Berlin, Germany!
Historisches Museum (DHM), physically located in Berlin, Stiftung Haus der
Geschichte der Bundesrepublik Deutschland (HdG) and the German federal archives,
the Bundesarchiv, provide a virtual
museum called LeMo, Lebendiges Museum Online. [i] It represents a
historically reliable introduction in modern German History and is the biggest
virtual museum in the digital landscape in German speaking countries.
LeMo addresses everyone who is interested in German History beginning in 1800 until the present day. It is a virtual museum for everyone – K-12 students, college and university students, adults, including senior citizens. You as a virtual visitor can access the museum easily from home and are invited to explore the website. The appealing presentation design combined with fascinating objects invite you to browse the site and get trapped in the web of history.
This virtual museum provides introductory texts, images of ancient objects, historical photographs and videos, audio files, biographical stories, pedagogical material and more materials on eleven epochs and topics of modern German history. Each historical period has three levels of telling history:
First, there is an introduction that provides an overview of the content. So, if you need information about William II. you can click on the topic “Kaiserreich”. There you will find an overview with the most important information to the German Empire in written texts and historical media like paintings and filmclips. This presentation of historical media evokes imaginations and impressions of that specific past and makes it easier to access it. In addition, the texts and side information on the presented objects provide keywords that lead you to further information.
Second, every general topic has a table of content to explore more information on each period of time. If you have additional interest in the foreign affairs of William II. and especially in his colonial policy, the website can assist you. Once you’ve clicked on it indicating that you are interested in gaining deeper knowledge of foreign policies, LeMo provides new subject areas and historical events related to that topic. Then, you can click on “Kolonialpolitik”, colonial policy, to access more information on the colonial beliefs of William II.
Furthermore, the museum provides an overview of historical events of each year, so if you need information on a specific historical event, you can choose this tool of doing research as well. This way, digital visitors get the impression to take a much closer look on a virtual exhibition of a German museum. In addition, if you still cannot find the item you are looking for at first glance, you may take advantage of the search function tailored to support specialized research topics.
The portal was first established in 1997. Its initial goal was to experiment with new technologies and the World Wide Web, still emerging at the time. Therefore, with its early efforts to represent a historical museum online in Germany, LeMo was a pioneer in that time. Since then, the virtual museum has enjoyed ever-increasing popularity and attracts visits from all over the world. Would you have expected that the highest number of visits with more than 100.000 per year comes from the USA? Digital paths of telling history have been and continue to be useful for many people from all over the world. LeMo is free, the only requirement is the ability to read German language.
Whether you are working on a homework assignment that’s due tomorrow, or are just interested in learning about German history, please visit LeMo. Even to me, who is quite familiar with German History, it is every time exciting to visit this virtual museum. I always find new information and get fascinated by the historical media presented on the screen.
Well, are you interested and need assistance? Here we go: https://www.dhm.de/lemo/
[i] Ina Frodermann, Oliver Schweinoch, Email with brochure “LeMo – Lebendiges Museum Online“, February 27, 2020.