Berlin

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Topography of Terror

Jan 21, 2000
Review by  
Rated a Very Helpful Review

Pros:Very important WWII site; educational experience

Cons:None of the buildings exist anymore

Berlin is full of WWII history. Perhaps, one of the most horrific reminders of the war is the site where Gestapo, the SS, the Security Service (SD) of the SS and RSMO (Reich Security Main Office) once stood. All these agencies were headquartered in one compact area near (what nowadays is) Stresemannstrasse 110. The buildings were either completely destroyed during the battle for Berlin in 1945 or later demolished in the 1950s, but one can observe the history by visiting the site and the open-air exhibition, called Topography of Terror. This exhibition features many photographs, letters, and general historic information about the period.

When I was in Berlin in the summer of 1999, I found the exhibition very interesting and moving. It'll show you what major institutions (and their function, activities, and consequences) once occupied the area--starting with Gestapo in 1933 and ending with RSMO in 1939. It will explain the history of the neighborhood and its buildings. You'll learn about the transformation of Berlin--the years of political change and crisis, and the Nazi rise to power. Also, the exhibition is a great learning place about the WWII in general.

It was here, in this compact area, where the desks of such infamous individuals as Muller, Kaltenbrunner, Heydrich, Eichmann (the head of the “Jewish Desk”), and Himmler once stood. It was from here, the orders for the most horrific crimes against humanity were given. It was from here, the genocide of the Jews was prepared. It was from here, the deportation and extermination were coordinated. It was from here, the persecution of anyone opposing the Nazi regime was organized.

When you are in Berlin, I strongly recommend you visit the “Topography of Terror” exhibition. It is open daily 10am-6pm, and 10am-8pm during the summer months. The entrance is free. Most of the description is in German, but English guidebooks (16 pages) are available for $2. Also, guided tours are available by appointment. The exhibition is a short walk (about 10min) away from the other major Berlin site--Checkpoint Charlie, and it is just around the corner from the remaining pieces of the Berlin Wall.


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