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Topographie des terrors, Berlin, Berlin Overview

Known since 1987 as the central site of management of Nazi crimes, Topography of Terror as it’s also called, now attracts thousands of visitors every year. The historic site is situated on Niederkirchnerstrasse a street in Berlin, Germany formerly also known as Prinz-Albrecht-Straße. Like most other historical monuments in Berlin, Topographie des terrors also has been through phases of demolition and reconstruction in the past.

The Nazi centre between 1933 -1945 housed SS Reich Main Security Office, a house prison and a leadership Police office of SS (Secret State). Today the centre sits next to Martin Gropius Building (an Exhibition centre) and at closer proximity to Potsdamer Platz. The house that also hosts Gestapo or Secret State Police got severely destroyed in 1945 by the Allied bombing. Later the terrain between American and Soviet sectors was leveled further and used by the recycling firm as a Dumping ground and a bumper car site. Bordered by Berlin Wall on the north, the terrain’s history was forgotten after pulling down of this historical site.

Restoration plans started after a public interest steadily started growing in 1970, but the International Building Exhibition (IBA) was against construction on the grounds. Since the neighboring Martin-Gropius-Bau Exhibition centre was reconstructed on the former Museum of Industrial Arts and Crafts in 1981, the decision to restore Topographie des terrors was reconsidered. In 1983, Berlin Senate called for international design submissions for the site and with 194 design entries, one was selected. Berlin architects Jürgen Wenzel and Nikolaus Lang won the price for designing the site.

In 1987 on Berlin’s 750 th anniversary celebrations the site opened its first exhibition for public viewing. With Gestapo headquarters renovation plans, the site that was once a place where prisoners were tortured was now built into a museum and memorial. Nazis control over prisoners and the oppressing history is exhibited in open air, protected by canopy-like structure here.

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Exhibitions at the Topographie des terrors

With an aim to create a concept of a new Documentation Center that would serve justice to the historical site, a design competition was conducted. In January 2006 after deciding on an entry by architect Ursula Wilms and landscape architect Heinz W. Hallmann, the construction began in 2007. The design of the Documentation Center includes an exhibit area in the building that allowed to “manifold visual links”. Newly opened terrain and the Documentation Centre of Terror currently includes three exhibition areas to its visitors: Permanent, Special & Temporary and Travelling Exhibitions.

1. Permanent Exhibitions

The “Topography of Terror” was displayed in open air till the documentation center opened in 2010. On an area of over 800 square meters, the revised and redesigned version exhibits the SS (Saal-Schutz) and the crimes committed by Nazi Germany in Europe.
  • Berlin 1933-1945 - The display also includes information about the capital Berlin, also addressing the National Socialist Policy along with its population.

  • Topography of Terror Site - The terror site tour includes 15 stations giving the visitors information about the historic place, remains of Berlin Wall and insights of Nazi Power.

2. Special & Temporary Exhibitions

  • Face of Ghetto in Litzmannstadt Ghetto 1940–1944 - Presented on June 23, 2010, it shows the pictures taken by Jewish photographers in Litzmannstadt Ghetto.

  • House of Prison at Gestapo, Terror and Resistance 1933-1945 - A Bilingual German-English exhibition displays the memorial of former basement prison cells. It was on display from August 2005 to April 2008 with a comprehensive exhibition of 400 photos and documents.
  • The “People’s Court”- Hitler’s Political Tribunal - In cooperation with the Memorial to the German Resistance it was presented from July 2004 to July 2005.
Few others include The Trial of Major War Criminals in Nuremberg comprising of 110 photos, 50 texts and 15 audio stations outlining the accused ones in the war crimes.

3. Travelling Exhibitions

Anti-Jewish Terror on “Kristallnacht” in November 1938: Displayed from November 2008 to November 2009 in Centrum Judaicum in Berlin, it showcased historical documentation of assault on German Jewry after five and half years of Nazi dictatorship.

Tours at Topographie des terrors

1. Public Guided Tours for Individual and Groups

The Documentation Center offers guided tours both in groups and for individual visitors. Free guided tours for individual visitors through the permanent exhibition are available only on Saturdays. Lasting for one hour and with 17 visitors per group, the following are the timings for the same.

On Sundays from 2 pm: Tours only in German

On Sundays from 3:30 pm: Tours only in English

2. Private Guided Tours

A maximum of 17 participants are allowed to book for a single group tour, and the price is EUR 70. The tour lasts for one hour and is available in the following languages: German, English, French, Hebrew, Italian, Polish, Russian, Swedish, Turkish and Spanish. Bookings can be done online or on call, and both credit card and cash are accepted.

There are tours for Topography of Terror on both the main offices of Wilhelm and Prince-Albrecht- Straße that focuses on how Nazi Personnel planned and implemented murder of millions of people. The Historic site open-air tour gives the visitors a glimpse of the history on the grounds of former Nazi Terror Center.

Library at Topography of Terror

Library at Topography of Terror
Source

The library at the Topographie des terrors currently holds 25800 media elements, ca. 130 current periodicals and 100 completed periodicals. Subjects here are mainly focused on the SS and Gestapo during the Third Reich and the National Socialism movement. Also included are documentation and narratives involving the murder of European Jews, Second World War and Nazi crimes among a few. The collection is systematically organized and free to access on open shelves here, and an online catalogue allows readers to search for their desired books and media elements quickly. A media station, microfiche reader, copy machine, computers machine are all-inclusive to library visitors.

How To Reach Topographie des Terrors

Bus, Train or S-Bahn, Subway are the public transportation options to reach your destination.

By Subway: U2, U5, U7, U6, U1

By Train: RE2, RE3, RE4, RB25, RB10, RE1

By Bus: 248, M29, TXL, M41, 194, M29, 236, X34, M29, 248, M29

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