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From Charlemagne's throne to Merkel's mobile: German history in 100 objects

How do you recount 2,000 years of German history? The historian Hermann Schäfer chose 100 objects to illustrate the country's past. Here are 12 of them.

It was a "big challenge," says Hermann Schäfer of his recently published book "Deutsche Geschichte in 100 Objekten" (German history in 100 objects.) The president of the Bonn-based Haus der Geschichte Foundation chose 100 relics and cultural assets to link antiquity, the Middle Ages, the modern age and recent contemporary history.

Hermann Schäfer, Copyright: AP Photo/Hermann J. Knippertz

Hermann Schäfer

Schäfer's book is like a colorful cross-section of Germany's past. It refers to world-famous cultural works as well as technical inventions, and it doesn't leave out the darker chapters of Germany's history, including World War II and the decades of Germany's division.

The reader is probably familiar with many of the objects, like the VW Beetle and the birth control pill.

But there are also some surprises. For example, not everyone would credit the invention of the first computer to the Germans.

The author doesn't perceive his book as a conventional history book.

Schäfer wanted to whet the reader's appetite for history and to give people an "emotional experience of the objects." Click through the gallery above to see for yourself.

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