The military history museum in Berlin is part of the Bundeswehr Museum of Military History which is located in Dresden and is focussed on the cultural rather than the technical history of warfare, particularly aerial warfare. Displays illustrate such themes as crossing borders, defenceless victims, the role of pilots either as heroes or as killers, and the fates of victims. Questions are posed about the role of the military in society, particularly about the duty of protection. It is regarded as a place of learning for the Bundeswehr as well as the public.
The flying field at Gatow was established in 1934 as part of the secret rearmament programme of the Third Reich. It was handed to the British occupying forces after the allied occupation in 1945, and about a third of the flights during the Berlin Airlift landed there. After the end of the Cold War and the military withdrawal from Berlin in 1994 it passed into the management of the Bundeswehr, who continued to use half of it for operational purposes and used the rest as a museum.
The museum has nine hangars, two of which are currently used for displays. The collection includes 214 aircraft of all dates, and many large items of equipment from the Cold War, such as missile launchers, from both Eastern and Western blocs. There are also many small military artefacts, uniforms, documents and images.>
The aircraft collection was begun by Helmut Jäckel near Hamburg in 1957, was donated to the Bundeswehr in 1987, was re-located to Gatow 1994, and became a branch of Dresden museum from 2010. The collection now incorporates the museum of the Luftwaffe.