Listening Post 1941 Installation

я слышу войну
German-Russian sound installation
July 5 to 15, 2018

About the installation

This German-Russian dialogue project consisted of a two-part radio play and an interactive sound installation. Its theme was the German war of extermination against the Soviet Union. At the centre of the collage of many voices was the Siege of Leningrad in which more than a million people were killed by hunger, cold and artillery shells during the Wehrmacht’s 900-day blockade of the city that began in September 1941. But the ‘listening post’ also includeed other events of the war and described how both victims and perpetrators, soldiers and civilians lived and died, fought and killed during wartime.

The installation was divided into five zones: the Soviet and German hinterlands, the front and the territories controlled respectively by the two countries with the Siege of Leningrad as the centrepiece. Visitors could move freely through the space and choose their own route. In the German hinterland section, for example, they could trace the development of and the propaganda for the ‘Master Plan for the East’ while in the Soviet hinterland sector they could experience the horror of the German Siege of Leningrad from the perspective of the people trapped in the city. Here history was presented first-hand: the visitor viewed human suffering not in the abstract as information to be consumed but directly in interaction with real people. The acoustic material was derived from diaries and letters as well as from historical political and military documents from Germany and the Soviet Union. 

The official opening of the sound installation took place on 4 July at the Munich Documentation Centre for the History of National Socialism. During the public opening event the two authors Jochen Langner and Andreas Westphalen explained how the dialogue project involving many partners came into being. The historian Jörg Ganzenmüller from the Friedrich-Schiller University in Jena explained the historical background.

The interactive Russian-German sound installation offered a space for visitors to commemorate and re-experience the German war of extermination against the Soviet Union, in particular the Siege of Leningrad, individually. The goal was not only to present the experiences of the war generation of each respective country to Russian and German visitors but also to permit a change of perspective allowing visitors to view events through the eyes of the former enemy. The installation thus offered an opportunity to engage in a dialogue of remembrance beyond the typically national point of view.

Listening Post 1941 | я слышу войну was a joint production of the radio stations Deutschlandfunk, Radio Ekho Moskvy and Westdeutsche Rundfunk. The project is funded by the German Foreign Office, the Foundation Memory, Responsibility and Future, the ZEIT Foundation, the Friedrich-Ebert Foundation, Moscow and the German-Russian Forum.