Topography of Terror

Berlin, Germany

The Topography of Terror (Topographie des Terrors) is an outdoor and indoor history museum. It is located on Niederkirchnerstrasse, formerly Prinz-Albrecht-Strasse, on the site of buildings which during the Nazi regime from 1933 to 1945 were the headquarters of the Gestapo and the SS, the principal instruments of repression during the Nazi era.

The buildings that housed the Gestapo and SS headquarters were largely destroyed by Allied bombing during early 1945 and the ruins demolished after the war. The boundary between the American and Soviet zones of occupation in Berlin ran along the Prinz-Albrecht-Strasse, so the street soon became a fortified boundary, and the Berlin Wall ran along the south side of the street, renamed Niederkirchnerstrasse, from 1961 to 1989. The wall here was never demolished. Indeed the section adjacent to the Topography of Terror site is the longest extant segment of the outer wall (the longer East Side Gallery section in Friedrichshain being actually part of the inner wall not visible from West Berlin).

The first exhibitions of the site took place in 1987, as part of Berlin's 750th anniversary. The cellar of the Gestapo headquarters, where many political prisoners were tortured and executed, were found and excavated. The site was then turned into a memorial and museum, in the open air but protected from the elements by a canopy, detailing the history of repression under the Nazis. The excavation took place in cooperation with East German researchers, and a joint exhibition was shown both at the site and in East Germany in 1989.

In 1992, two years after German reunification, a foundation was established to take care of the site, and the following year, it initiated an architectural competition to design a permanent museum. A design by architect Peter Zumthor was chosen. However, construction was stopped due to funding problems after the concrete core of the structure had been built. This stood on the site for nearly a decade until it was finally demolished in 2004 and a new building begun.

The construction of the new Documentation Center according to a prize-winning design by the architect Ursula Wilms and the landscape architect Heinz W. Hallmann (Aachen) was finished in 2010. The new Documentation Center was officially opened on May 6, 2010 by Federal President Horst Köhler on the occasion of the 65th anniversary of the end of World War II. The new exhibition and documentation building and the redesigned historic grounds were opened to the public on May 7, 2010.

References:

Comments

Your name



Details

Founded: 2010
Category: Museums in Germany

Rating

4.5/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

Michael Dowden (2 months ago)
I appreciate the mission of this place, positioned on a site of historic significance in front of a substantial segment of the old wall. They're doing important work on the preservation of history and education. On the other hand, the exhibits were all photos and small text, with the option for an audio tour. I feel that a book or documentary might be more effective at communicating the material.
Rachel R (2 months ago)
Extensive information and displays of different aspects of the war, from both a political and social standpoint. We started at the “end” of the displays by accident, there was definitely a correct way to read them. The building next to the area with the plaques looked like it had more info and exhibits, but we found the outdoor area to be enough. Tip: the grey boxes in the display areas outside often have cards/trays you can pull out, which often have even more info. Displays are in both German and English.
Eugenio Gadea (7 months ago)
Very well documented. The presentation is also great. Really makes you appreciate the value of having a working democracy. Never take it for granted!
S. C. (11 months ago)
While it's definitely a must go to place, they didn't address some important events that led to WW2. Kristallnacht was barely mentioned which is one of the most important events. Huge and important parts are left out. Documentaries deliver more and better information.
Ben Skinner (17 months ago)
An incredible place. I found d the experience of visiting to be one that was utterly poignant and deeply powerful. It really is a must if you are visiting.
Powered by Google

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Seaplane Harbour Museum

The Seaplane Harbour is the newest and one of the most exciting museums in Tallinn. It tells stories about the Estonian maritime and military history. The museum’s display, that comprises of more than a couple of hundred large exhibits, revitalizes the colourful history of Estonia.

British built submarine Lembit weighing 600 tones is the centrepiece of the new museum. Built in 1936 for the Estonian navy, Lembit served in the World War II under the Soviet flag. It remained in service for 75 years being the oldest submarine in the World still in use until it was hauled ashore in 2011. Despite its long history, Lembit is still in an excellent condition offering a glimpse of the 1930s art of technology.

Another exciting attraction is a full-scale replica of Short Type 184, a British pre-World War II seaplane, which was also used by the Estonian armed forces. Short Type 184 has earned its place in military history by being the first aircraft ever to attack an enemy’s ship with an air-launched torpedo. Since none of the original seaplanes have survived, the replica in Seaplane Harbour is the only full-size representation of the aircraft in the whole World.

Simulators mimicking a flight above Tallinn, around-the-world journey in the yellow submarine, navigating on the Tallinn bay make this museum heaven for kids or adventurous adults.

Seaplane Harbour operates in architecturally unique hangars built almost a century ago, in 1916 and 1917, as a part of Peter the Great sea fortress. These hangars are the World’s first reinforced concrete shell structures of such a great size. Charles Lindbergh, the man who performed the first solo flight across the Atlantic Ocean, landed here in 1930s.

On the outdoor area visitors can tour a collection of historic ships, including the Suur Tõll, Europe's largest steam-powered icebreaker.