The Hero Principle

By Helgard Haug / Daniel Wetzel

Alexander the Great, the Chinese physician Li Wenliang, Napoleon and Greta Thunberg never had anything to do with one another. And yet: They were or still are considered heroes or heroines in their time, in their countries, societies and even beyond. What makes them similar?

Heroes and heroines are not born, but made – by those who tell stories filled with admiration to heroise a person, a feat or an event. So the question of how a hero or a heroine is made, of who or what they are, is not up to the heroised themselves, but rather the societies doing the heroising. But what happens exactly when heroines and heroes are spoken of and heroised? 

The Sonderforschungsbereich (SFB, or Collaborative Research Centre) 948 at the University of Freiburg has made heroisation the focus of a twelve-year research project, examining the process in the past and present from a social, cultural, political and international perspective. The Prinzip Held* (The Hero Principle) exhibition examines this phenomenon: Heroines and heroes do not necessarily stand out because of their particular biographies, but rather because they break boundaries, bend rules, fight battles, unite communities on the inside and define them against the outside – and are presented for a specific audience. Prinzip Held* thus highlights the impact that different combinations of these components have, from Alexander the Great to Greta Thunberg.


Artistic direction: Helgard Haug and Daniel Wetzel
Concept and design: Helgard Haug, Daniel Wetzel, Dominik Steinmann
Scenography: Dominik Steinmann
Collaboration scenography: Anna Knöller
Graphic concept & design: Ilona Marti
Design Inflatables in collaboration with: Urs Meier, Luft&Laune
Interaction & Interface Design, Programming & Electronics Inflatables: Georg Werner
Audios / Interviews: Helgard Haug, Daniel Wetzel
Light design, LED wall layout: Robert Läßig
Sound design: Rozenn Lièvre
Video design: Stefan Korsinsky
Collaboration Research & Coordination: Grit Lieder
Work planning technical realisation, construction supervision: Thomas Bache, kursiv | text - objekt - raum GmbH
Production Inflatables: Urs Meier, Luft & Laune
Production management: Juliane Männel
Production assistance: Ksenia Lukina
Exhibition production and construction: MHMBw Berlin-Gatow, Restoration Department
Advertising media: Ilona Marti, Alexander Nickel, Christian Nimpsch (MHMBw Berlin-Gatow)
Exhibition graphics: Ilona Marti and Alexander Nickel, Christian Nimpsch (MHMBw Berlin-Gatow)
Image editing: Alexander Nickel (MHMBw Berlin-Gatow)
Intern: Lewin Ott
Furniture construction: Walter Engel, Mr Hopsch, Mr Frank (MHMBw Berlin-Gatow, Exhibition Workshops Department)
As a public research project, Prinzip Held* is a cooperation between the University of Freiburg (SFB 948), the Bundeswehr Centre of Military History and Social Sciences (ZMSBw), the Bundeswehr Museum of Military History and Rimini Protokoll.