University of Bremen: Exhibition about Andrei Sakharov

On the occasion of Andrei Sakharov’s 100th birthday, the university is showing an exhibition on the physicist on the boulevard. The 21 steles were worked on by students from the University of Bremen. The exhibition can be seen in front of the State and University Library from May 21 to July 16, 2021.
Andrei Sakharov is known as the “father of the Soviet hydrogen bomb”. This is what the exceptional scientist was called after his team successfully tested the bomb in 1953. In 1975, two decades later, he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize as a world-famous “dissident”.

In between there is a life as an exceptional physicist and critic of the Soviet Union, who initially led a privileged life in the USSR and used these privileges (for example access to foreign literature and to the state and party leaders) to critically question the consequences of his actions – and that also to demand from the leading politicians. He called for a ban on nuclear tests at a very early stage and, in return, quarreled with party and state leader Nikita Khrushchev.

Commitment to the politically persecuted and for intellectual freedom
Sakharov also campaigned for the politically persecuted during the Brezhnev period. His manifesto “Thoughts on Progress, Peaceful Coexistence and Spiritual Freedom” made him world famous in 1968 – and a renegade in the eyes of the government. In 1980 she banished him to Gorky, from where Gorbachev did not bring him back until 1986. Shortly before his death in 1989, he was able to present his political ideas as a member of the People’s Deputies Congress.

Students edited and translated the Moscow exhibition
“The aim of the exhibition is to show how, in times of terror and war, later KGB harassment and dirty campaigns, someone stood up for their ideals”, says Susanne Schattenberg from the Institute of History at the University of Bremen. In the Corona winter semester, your students dealt intensively with Sakharov’s writings and prepared the exhibition texts for a German audience.

In eight sections, Sakharov’s life is presented in short texts and large-format photos as well as original sources: One panel each explains the historical background and a second Sakharov’s life stages: during the Great Terror of the 1930s, in World War II, with the development of the hydrogen bomb under Stalin, his Commitment to environmental protection and human rights in the 1950s / 60s, his banishment to Gorky in 1980 and finally the last few years under Gorbachev. The exhibition closes with the Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought, which the European Parliament has awarded since 1988.

More relevant than ever
Sakharov’s demands from 1968 sound more relevant today than ever: that there can only be lasting peace if the USA and the USSR (now Russia) come closer to each other, that resources must be handled carefully and the planet must not be plundered, that only freedom of expression and freedom of the press ensure that people do not allow themselves to be seduced by propagandists and seducers. In his 1975 Nobel Prize lecture he summed it up as follows: “Peace, progress, human rights – these three goals are inextricably linked.”

The exhibition will open at the same time in Moscow and Kaunas and will also be shown in the European Parliament. The “Bremer” version moves on to Berlin and Cologne. It is also available on the homepage of the Research Center for Eastern Europe.
The exhibition on the boulevard of the university is accessible at all times. According to the corona rules, a mask must be worn and the minimum distance must be observed.
The exhibition is supported by the Karin and Uwe Hollweg Foundation.

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