The “Topographie Des Terrors” (Eng: Topography of Terror) documentation center in Berlin is located at the former grounds of the Gestapo (short for “Geheime Staatspolizei” or in English; German Secret State Police) and SS Central Headquarters together with the Reich Security Main Office (RSHA: Reichssicherheitshauptambt) which was added during the Second World War.
Inside the “Topography of Terror” Documentation Center
Inside the “Topography of Terror” documentation center there is an exhibition on ground level about the crimes committed by the Gestapo and the SS, first in Germany and later in all of Europe as the war expanded their territory. The timeline starts at the moment when Hitler and his party come to power in 1933.
When you follow the timeline it takes you along the most important events in which the SS and the various outfits of the Police played a vital role in the execution of Nazi ideology from their rise to power until the end of the regime in 1945.
The information, stories and pictures aim to educate the main public, but the curators do not hold back to show visitors some of the witness accounts that tell stories of unbelievable cruelty and inhumanity.
For non-Germans it can be very interesting (and horrific) to focus on the information about what happened in Germany the years before the outbreak of the war and how the country rapidly degraded into a police state, where people who showed any form of opposition or criticism to the Nazi regime literally disappeared from the streets.
The Documentation Center grounds
Some remains have been uncovered and made accessible for the public, like the outer walls of the underground cellars or the foundations of a SS mess hut.
The picture underneath shows the remains of the underground cell blocks of the headquarters. Black and white pictures illustrate what happened here. The concrete wall behind the brick one is a remaining piece of the Berlin Wall, now a monument, while in the background the enormous ‘Luftfahrtministerium’ or Luftwaffe Headquarters of Herman Göring is visible. After the war this building was restored by the East German government and is still in use by the German government today.
Visit the Topography of Terror in Berlin
The timeline is interesting and we would recommend a visit, although the way the information is presented requires a lot of attention and reading. A good thing is that the information is illustrated by powerful black and white images.
The address is Niederkirchnerstrasse 8 in Berlin, Germany near the Potsdamer Platz. For more information about the exhibition(s) or opening hours, please visit the website of the documentation center.