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.



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Founded: 2010
Category: Museums in Germany


4.5/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

Colm H (41 days ago)
Very detailed account of the rise and fall of the Nazi's. Unfortunately nothing that a book couldn't cover, lots of standing and reading. Some very impactful photographs from the time which give more depth to the history.
Bren F (2 months ago)
Very informative and presented very well. Even if you think you know everyone you will learn something different. Highly recommend the (free) audio tour around the outside of the museum! It can be a bit crowded inside, but if you go at the right time it is perfect.
Dilal Ahmed (2 months ago)
There is obviously a big difference between reading about these things or seeing them on television, than seeing them in person. It was a very cool interesting experience. The city of Berlin has so much history and this is one of the best places to experience it. I went with some friends and we did not really say much to each other while there because we were all so busy just soaking it all in.
Jillian Gordon (2 months ago)
If you're in Berlin, you need to take some time to see this museum. It's free, which is always a huge draw. Be sure to walk along the wall and then go inside if you want to get the full experience. It's a lot of information and pictures, but very informative. Highly recommend for anyone who's traveling through Berlin!
Naval Shah (3 months ago)
This historical display has both interesting outdoor and indoor components. The inside exhibit is super comprehensive and goes through the timeline of the Third Reich from it's beginning to it's end at the conclusion of World War 2. It takes about an hour and half to go through everything in reasonable detail, and I highly recommend for anyone interested in learning about the historical details.
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