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Falkenstein Goes to War
Perspectives on the Global Conflagration


Special exhibition opening on 23 October 2014


The Exhibition

The year 2014 is the centennial of the outbreak of World War I. To mark this occasion the Bundeswehr Museum of Military History - Berlin-Gatow Airfield will, in the autumn of 2014, be presenting what may be termed a special serial exhibition, entitled "Falkenstein Goes to War".

The exhibition will focus on the person of reservist Peter Falkenstein and each year be extended by an additional section until 2018. In this way the military career and the personal fate of the soldier who went to war as an infantryman in the summer of 1914 will be tracked until the end of the fighting in November 1918.

Son of a miller and farmer from the Eifel village of Stotzheim near Euskirchen, he experienced trench warfare on the Western Front to begin with. From 1916 onward he served as a hospital clerk in the rear echelons, before volunteering for service in the aviation corps in 1917 and training as a pilot.

As the pilot of a "G" (for "Gotha") -type heavy aeroplane or bomber, he flew night-time missions over the hinterland behind French positions as far as Paris during the final year of the war.

After the Armistice in November 1918 Falkenstein continued flying and, instead of bombs, dropped leaflets over the homecoming German troops.

During the war he maintained a lively correspondence with his family, especially his mother, via the military postal service. The correspondence provides detailed insights into this thoughts and feelings, as well as into the concerns and hardships of the people at home. The depiction of this individual fate is embedded in the primary context of the military, political and social events of the years 1914 to 1918. Also on show in parallel with the serial exhibition revolving around Falkenstein as an individual soldier will be a general historical presentation of the "Great War".


"Falkenstein Goes to War" can be visited in the special exhibition rooms of Hangar 3. By choosing a bomber pilot as the protagonist for the exhibition, the Military History Museum - Berlin-Gatow Airfield pays due regard to its central topic and, at the same time, takes a look at an area of air warfare in World War 1 that is mostly overshadowed by the classic type of aviator, the fighter pilot.

The exhibition is augmented by a social media project that addresses young visitors in particular.