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  • Writer's pictureMatti Geyer

The Ultimate Guide to Berlin's WW2, Third Reich & Holocaust Sights

Updated: 2 days ago

Immersing oneself in the tumultuous history of Berlin during World War II is a profound journey through time, marked by poignant reminders of humanity's tragedies. From the remnants of bunkers and bombed-out buildings to solemn memorials honoring the lives lost, Berlin's landscape is a testament to the city's resilience and the enduring legacy of the war. This ultimate guide serves as a compass for travelers and history enthusiasts alike, navigating through the iconic sights and lesser-known gems that bear witness to Berlin's wartime past. If you're interested in this era, make sure to book my private WW2 tour of Berlin!




1. WW2 Bunkers in Berlin


Führerbunker

The Führerbunker, located in Berlin, Germany, was Adolf Hitler's underground headquarters during the final months of World War II. Constructed in 1944, the bunker comprised several rooms, including living quarters for Hitler and his staff, as well as a conference room and a communications center. It was here that Hitler spent his last days before his suicide on April 30, 1945. After the war, the site was largely destroyed. The location of the Führerbunker is marked by a fittingly ugly parking space and a small information board.



The Boros Bunker

The Boros Bunker, officially named Reichsbahnbunker Friedrichstraße, stands as a poignant relic of Berlin's history, nestled in the heart of the city. Constructed in 1943 according to the designs of architect Karl Bonatz, this listed air-raid shelter was initially intended to accommodate up to 3,000 Reichsbahn train passengers. With its square structure covering 1,000 square meters, towering 18 meters high, and boasting walls reaching 3 meters in thickness, the bunker's imposing size and robust construction underscore its primary purpose as a refuge during air raids.



Hochbunker Pallasstraße

The Hochbunker Pallasstraße, also known as the Sportpalast-Bunker, holds significant historical significance in Berlin's Schöneberg district. Construction began in 1943 and continued through 1945, employing forced laborers mainly from the occupied territories of the Soviet Union. Initially planned as a telecommunication bunker to provide telephone and telegraph services for the nearby Fernamt Berlin of the Reichspost, the bunker remained unfinished.



Anhalter Hochbunker

The Anhalter Hochbunker is intertwined with the history of the Anhalter Bahnhof, once a major train station in Berlin heavily damaged during World War II. Completed in 1942, the bunker comprised around 100 rooms across its three above-ground and two underground levels, covering 3,600 square meters. Originally designed for 3,500 occupants, it sheltered 12,000 during air raids, facilitated by surface entrances and an underground link to a train tunnel.



Flak Tower Humboldthain

The Flak Tower in Humboldthain formed part of Berlin's defensive network during World War II, designed to house anti-aircraft artillery and provide protection against Allied bombing raids. Constructed between 1941 and 1942, the tower's thick concrete walls and strategic design played a crucial role in defending the city. Partially demolished after the war, the tower remains a prominent landmark in Humboldthain Park, offering panoramic views of Berlin.


Kegelbunker

The Kegelbunker, located on the RAW-Tempel grounds in Friedrichshain, is a unique overground bunker originally part of the Imperial Railway Repair Facility. Built as an air raid shelter, it stands as the sole surviving Winkel type bunker in Berlin. Featuring a cylindrical concrete tower with angled canopies and a spiraling ramp leading to five usable levels, the bunker now serves as a climbing wall.



Hochbunker der ehem. Pionierschule I Zwieseler Straße & Viechtacher Straße

Constructed in 1940 as a Mannschaftsbunker, the Hochbunker der ehem. Pionierschule I on Zwieseler Straße & Viechtacher Straße in Lichtenberg is a testament to Berlin's wartime history. Featuring traditional fortress design elements, the bunker sheltered up to 500 people during air raids. Despite its historical significance, its future remains uncertain.


Fichte-Bunker

Originally a gas reservoir, the Fichtestraße Bunker underwent significant transformation during World War II to accommodate up to 30,000 people. Used for various purposes post-war, including as a refugee shelter and old-age home, the bunker now features luxurious duplex apartments atop its dome.


Hochbunker am Heckeshorn

The Hochbunker Heckeshorn, constructed in 1943, served as a command bunker during World War II, coordinating air defense efforts in Berlin. Post-war, it transitioned into a communication hub, pathology, mortuary, and emergency hospital, showcasing its adaptability over the decades.


Gesundbrunnen's Underground Bunkers

The underground station of Gesundbrunnen features four distinct Luftschutzanlagen strategically positioned to ensure citizen safety during air raids. Leased by the Berliner Unterwelten association, these bunkers now serve as educational spaces, hosting permanent exhibitions curated by the association.

These rewritten passages maintain the essence of the original text while condensing the information for conciseness.


Zossen Bunkers

Maybach I and II were a series of above and underground bunkers located near Zossen, Brandenburg, about 20 kilometers south of Berlin. Maybach I housed the High Command of the Army, while Maybach II served as the Supreme Command of the Armed Forces during World War II. These bunkers played a crucial role in central planning for military operations and served as a vital link between Berlin's military and civilian leadership and the front lines of battle. Today, guided tours are available through these historic bunkers, providing visitors with insights into their strategic significance during the war. The complex was heavily bombed by Allied forces in 1945, and incriminating evidence related to the 20 July plot against Hitler was discovered at Maybach II. Despite the damage suffered during the war, these bunkers stand as enduring reminders of Germany's wartime history and are open to the public for exploration and education.


2. WW2 Ruins & Bullet Holes in Berlin


Kaiser-Wilhelm-Memorial Church

The damaged spire of the Kaiser-Wilhelm-Memorial Church stands as a haunting reminder of wartime devastation. Bombed in 1943, the church now serves as a preserved memorial, its juxtaposition with a modernist structure highlighting the stark contrast between past ruin and present renewal.



Anhalter Bahnhof

Once a bustling railway hub, the skeletal remains of the Anhalter Bahnhof bear witness to relentless bombing campaigns. These silent ruins echo the city's past as a transportation center, with plans underway to erect an "exiles museum" nearby, commemorating those who fled Nazi Germany.



Jewish Cemetery Schönhauser Allee

Scarred by visible war damage and desecration, the Jewish Cemetery Schönhauser Allee stands as a poignant testament to World War II and the Holocaust. Bomb craters and damaged graves tell a somber tale of destruction, with stolen inscriptions and makeshift fortifications bearing witness to the cemetery's tumultuous history.


Museum Island

The Neues Museum on Museum Island proudly displays bullet holes as poignant reminders of Berlin's wartime struggles. These scars offer visitors a tangible connection to the city's past conflicts, evoking the intensity of battles fought within its heart.


Martin Gropius Bau

Bearing the scars of war, the historic Martin Gropius Bau exhibition hall features bullet holes etched into its grand façade. Standing adjacent to the former Gestapo headquarters, the building serves as a solemn reminder of wartime turmoil.


S-Bahn Viaduct between Friedrichstraße and Museum Island

The S-Bahn viaduct, a crucial defensive barrier during the battles of 1945, still bears the scars of intense fighting. Visitors today can witness these enduring marks, reminders of the fierce resistance encountered by the Soviet 7th Corps during the city's tumultuous history.


Dorotheenstr. 1 (Right next to Museum Island)

Constructed from 1879 to 1883, Dorotheestr. 1 served as the "Administration of Direct Taxes" until partially destroyed in World War II. Today, bullet holes still mark the facade, preserving its wartime history. The recent renovation, completed in autumn 2013, preserved these scars while updating the structure for modern use by the Humboldt University.



Klosterruine Berlin

The Klosterruine Berlin stands as a solemn testament to the city's history, its crumbling walls bearing witness to the ravages of time and war. Originally built as a monastery, the ruins evoke a sense of contemplation and reflection, inviting visitors to ponder the passage of centuries amidst their weathered stones.


Villa Parey

Villa Parey, once a grand residence in Berlin, now stands as a shadow of its former self. Despite its faded elegance, the villa retains a sense of dignity, its weathered façade hinting at the stories of bygone eras that echo within its walls.


Dorotheenstadt Cemetery Mausoleum

Even mausoleums provided cover for fighters during wartime, as seen at the Dorotheenstadt Cemetery. Scarred by battle, the walls of these tombs bear witness to the intensity of conflict, serving as silent reminders of the sacrifices made during turbulent times.



Gemeindehaus der Sophiengemeinde in der Großen Hamburger Straße

The Gemeindehaus der Sophiengemeinde in Große Hamburger Straße stands as a beacon of community amidst the urban landscape. Serving as a gathering place for the Sophien congregation, this building holds the memories and traditions of generations past, its walls echoing with the stories of those who have come before.



S-Bahnbrücke in Charlottenburg

Visitors to the S-Bahnbrücke in Charlottenburg can witness the scars of war etched into its pillars. Bullet holes, barely noticeable at first glance, bear witness to the intense battles of April 1945, a poignant reminder of the city's tumultuous past and the resilience of its people.


St. Michael Church

St. Michael in Berlin-Mitte stands as a symbol of faith and resilience amidst the urban landscape. Despite facing the trials of time and conflict, the church continues to serve as a place of worship and community, even though its main structure was left as a ruin.



Küstrin

During World War II, Küstrin, located on the Oder River, was heavily damaged and left in ruins. The town's old center bore the brunt of intense battles between German and Soviet forces, resulting in widespread destruction. Today, Küstrin serves as a reminder of wartime devastation, with remnants of its past visible amidst efforts to rebuild.


3. WW2 Memorials & Cemeteries in Berlin


Treptower Park Soviet Memorial

Paying homage to the fallen Red Army soldiers in the Battle of Berlin, the Treptower Park Soviet Memorial stands as a grand tribute. At its heart is a monumental statue depicting a Soviet soldier holding a German child while wielding a sword to smash a swastika. Across from the statue, two marble triangles, crafted from material once part of the Reich Chancellery building, further commemorate their sacrifice.



Soviet Memorial Tiergarten

The Soviet Memorial in Tiergarten, situated in Berlin's Tiergarten Park, pays tribute to the fallen Red Army soldiers of World War II. Erected in 1945, this solemn monument features a central bronze statue of a Soviet soldier surrounded by inscribed pillars and flanked by tanks and cannons used in the battle.



Soviet Memorial Pankow

The Schönholzer Heide, once a beloved destination for Berlin families, was transformed into a forced labor camp during World War II. Now, it hosts a military cemetery, established between 1947 and 1949, where over 13,000 officers and soldiers of the Red Army who perished during the final battles for Berlin are buried. The cemetery features a linden alley leading to the memorial, adorned with symbolic wreaths and an eternal flame. Flanking the entrance are gatehouses with granite pillars, bronze reliefs depicting the Soviet people, and escutcheon-shaped emblems representing Soviet branches of service. The cemetery complex also includes crypts, a 33.5-meter obelisk, and a main monument featuring the Russian "Motherland" mourning her fallen son.


Gedenkstätte Plötzensee

The Plötzensee Memorial honors victims of Nazi judicial injustices in a solemn European remembrance site. Built between 1868 and 1879, the former Plötzensee prison initially aimed at prisoner rehabilitation. However, from 1933, its focus shifted to punishment under the National Socialists. During the Nazi era, over 2,800 individuals, including political opponents and those convicted of minor offenses, were executed here by the Nazi judiciary. Today, the former execution chamber serves as a memorial space where visitors can access details of all victims.

Neue Wache Memorial

The Neue Wache on Unter den Linden is Germany's central memorial for victims of war and tyranny. Built between 1816 and 1818 by Karl Friedrich Schinkel, it became a memorial in 1931 for those fallen in World War I. Reconstructed after World War II, it now houses Käthe Kollwitz's sculpture "Mother with Dead Son," symbolizing all victims of war and tyranny.


Murellenberge, Murellenschlucht and Schanzenwald

The Murellenberg and its surrounding areas, including the Murellen Gorge, were used by the Nazis as execution sites for deserters and individuals deemed to be undermining the military's morale. The memorial erected in 2002 serves as a reminder of those who were killed by the Nazi military justice system at Murellenberg.


Georg Elser Memorial

The Georg Elser Memorial in Berlin stands as a tribute to the courage and determination of Georg Elser, who attempted to assassinate Adolf Hitler in 1939 in order to prvent war. The memorial, located in the Wilhelmstrasse area, features a sculpture of Georg Elser surrounded by inscriptions detailing his assassination attempt and his sacrifice in resisting the Nazi regime.



British War Cemetery

The British War Cemetery on Heerstraße is a solemn reminder of the sacrifices made by British soldiers during World War II. Located in the Charlottenburg district of Berlin, the cemetery contains the graves of over 3,500 Commonwealth soldiers who lost their lives in the conflict. The meticulously maintained grounds offer a peaceful atmosphere for reflection and pay tribute to those who gave their lives in service to their country.


Cemetery Lilienthalstraße

The Lilienthalstraße Cemetery in Berlin's Neukölln district is a solemn resting place for the fallen soldiers of the Wehrmacht, as well as a memorial for civilian victims of war. Among its graves are 4,935 individual war victims, along with countless others interred in mass graves. The cemetery serves as a poignant reminder of the human toll of war, with each grave bearing witness to the lives lost during one of the darkest periods of history.


In den Kisseln

The In den Kisseln Cemetery in Spandau's Falkenhagener Feld neighborhood is a solemn resting place for 5,901 victims of war and tyranny, spread across 15 sections. It stands as one of the largest non-Soviet war cemeteries in Berlin, serving as a poignant reminder of the human cost of conflict and oppression. Each grave represents a life lost and a story untold, honoring those who sacrificed everything during tumultuous times in history.


The Missing House

This memorial commemorates the lives of individuals who resided in a house on Große Hamburger Straße that was destroyed during a bombardment in World War II. The memorial displays the names of the former occupants, serving as a poignant reminder of their presence and the tragedy of their displacement. Following the war, the residents were unable to return to their homes, and the house was never rebuilt, leaving behind a void that this memorial seeks to acknowledge and honor.


Waldfriedhof Zehlendorf

The Forest Cemetery Zehlendorf serves as the final resting place for approximately 1,000 victims of war and tyranny on the German War Graves Commission section, while another 1,170, mostly military internees, find their memorial on an Italian war cemetery within the site. This cemetery stands as a poignant reminder of the toll exacted by war and oppressive regimes, providing a peaceful sanctuary for remembrance and reflection.


Anti War Museum

The Anti War Museum in Berlin serves as a poignant testament to the enduring pursuit of peace amid the chaos of war. Established in 1925 by Ernst Friedrich, a committed pacifist and war resister, the museum originally housed a remarkable collection of artifacts, photographs, and documents vividly portraying the grim realities of war and the profound human toll of conflict. However, during the Nazi regime, the museum was forcibly shut down and its assets seized, prompting Friedrich to flee. Today, a poignant plaque adorned with World War II helmets, now serving as planters for flowers, stands as a symbol of resilience and remembrance at the site. Despite the adversity, Friedrich's legacy perseveres, and the museum has since reopened in his honor, albeit in a different location in Wedding, continuing its mission to advocate for peace and educate visitors about the devastating consequences of war.


4. Memorials commemorating the Holocaust and other victimized groups in Berlin


Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe

The Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe, designed by Peter Eisenman, offers a solemn space for remembrance with its field of 2,711 concrete slabs. This poignant memorial serves as a stark reminder of the Holocaust's horrors, providing visitors a contemplative setting for reflection.



Memorial to Murdered Sinti & Roma

Adjacent to the Brandenburg Gate, this memorial commemorates the persecution of up to 500,000 Sinti and Roma people during the Nazi era. The serene atmosphere invites contemplation on the impact of intolerance, offering a tranquil space for reflection.



T4 Memorial

Located in Tiergarten, the T4 Memorial honors victims of the Nazi euthanasia program. This poignant reminder of the atrocities committed during this dark chapter of history highlights the targeted persecution of people with disabilities. The T4 program, named after Tiergartenstrasse 4, was a ruthless initiative that claimed countless lives from 1939 to 1941.


Grunewald Platform 17 Memorial

Grunewald Station's Platform 17 bears witness to the tragic deportations of Berlin's Jewish community. Adorned with inscriptions for each train that departed for camps across Eastern Europe, this memorial serves as a poignant reminder of the lives disrupted and lost during the Holocaust.



Memorial to the Murdered Homosexuals

The Memorial to the Murdered Homosexuals, located in Berlin, stands as a somber tribute to the countless individuals who fell victim to persecution and violence due to their sexual orientation during the Nazi regime. Through its striking design and solemn atmosphere, the memorial honors the memory of those who suffered and perished unjustly, while also urging reflection and remembrance to prevent such atrocities from happening again.

Stumble Stones

Stolpersteine, or Stumble Stones, are small, brass cobblestone memorials embedded in the sidewalks of cities across Europe, including Berlin, as a poignant tribute to the victims of the Holocaust. These stumbling blocks are inscribed with the names and life details of individuals who were persecuted, deported, or murdered by the Nazis. They serve as a powerful reminder of the human toll of the Holocaust and encourage passersby to pause, reflect, and remember the lives lost to one of the darkest chapters in history.


Große Hamburger Straße Memorial

The Große Hamburger Straße Memorial in Berlin stands as a solemn tribute to the Jewish residents who were persecuted and deported during the Holocaust. Located in the historic Jewish district, this memorial marks the site from which thousands of Jews were deported to concentration camps during World War II. It stands in front of the oldest Jewish Cemetery in Berlin (destroyed by the Nazis and used as a mass grave thereafter), on the site of the former Jewish retirement home, which got turned into Berlin's main deportation center.



Bavarian Quarter Memorial

The "Places of Remembrance" Memorial in the Bavarian Quarter consists of 80 individual plaques that serve as a poignant reminder of the discrimination and gradual deprivation of rights suffered by the Jewish population of Berlin, culminating in deportation and mass murder during the Holocaust. Overview panels detailing all the stations of the memorial can be found at Schöneberg City Hall, Bayerischer Platz, and Münchener Straße (near Hohenstaufenstraße), providing visitors with a comprehensive understanding of the significance of each location commemorated by the memorial.


Marzahn Concentration Camp for Sinti and Roma

The Berlin-Marzahn Rastplatz was a detention camp established by the Nazis in the suburb of Marzahn to detain and persecute Romani people. Utilizing discriminatory laws, hundreds of Romani individuals were forcibly relocated to Marzahn in 1936, where they faced medical inspections and forced labor. Conditions worsened over time, with prisoners subjected to involuntary sterilization and loss of citizenship. Men were later transferred to Sachsenhausen concentration camp, while women and children were sent to Auschwitz, highlighting the atrocities committed against the Romani community during the Nazi regime. There's a small memorial site here today.


Trains to Life - Trains to Death

The "Trains to Life - Trains to Death" memorial at Friedrichstraße is a solemn reminder of the contrasting fates of Jewish children during the Holocaust. The memorial highlights the stark contrast between the trains that transported some children to safety in England and those that led others to their deaths in concentration camps. It stands as a powerful tribute to the victims and survivors of the Holocaust, ensuring that their stories are never forgotten.


Jewish Cemetery Weissensee

The Jewish Cemetery in Weissensee is one of the largest Jewish cemeteries in Europe and dates back to the mid-19th century. Many tombstones bear dates suggesting suicides, reflecting the desperation faced by Jews during that time. Some Jews sought shelter in the cemetery's mausoleums, using them as hiding places to evade capture by the Nazis. Today, the cemetery serves as a powerful reminder of the impact of the Holocaust on Berlin's Jewish community and stands as a solemn memorial to those who suffered and perished during this dark chapter in history.



Sachsenhausen Concentration Camp

Located to the north of Berlin, Sachsenhausen Concentration Camp serves as a chilling reminder of the horrors of the Holocaust. Established in 1936, it was initially intended as a model camp but later became a center for SS training. Preserved barracks, watchtowers, and historical exhibits vividly depict the systematic oppression and dehumanization endured by inmates. The stark conditions of the barracks and looming watchtowers symbolize the harsh reality faced by prisoners. A visit to Sachsenhausen is an emotional journey that ensures the preservation of memory and pays tribute to the countless lives lost during this dark period in history.



Ravensbrück Concentration Camp

Ravensbrück was a concentration camp located 2 hours of north of Berlin, primarily for women and children. It was established by the Nazis in 1939, and over 130,000 prisoners from across Europe were held there during its operation. The conditions in Ravensbrück were horrific, with forced labor, medical experiments, and widespread abuse occurring. Many prisoners died from starvation, disease, or were executed. The camp was liberated by Soviet forces in April 1945. Today, Ravensbrück serves as a memorial and museum, commemorating the victims and educating visitors about the atrocities committed there during the Holocaust.


The Deserted Room

Located in the former Jewish neighborhood of Berlin, this memorial comprises a table and two chairs, one of which is fallen, symbolizing a vanished presence. It depicts an empty room, evoking the sudden disappearance of its inhabitants. At its heart lies a poignant poem by Nelly Sachs:



The Block of Women

The Rosenstrasse Memorial, also known as the "Block of Women," commemorates an extraordinary act of resistance against Nazi persecution. In February 1943, non-Jewish German women protested against the arrest of their Jewish husbands by gathering outside the Rosenstrasse detention center. Despite the risk to their own lives, they demanded the release of their loved ones. This memorial stands as a tribute to their courage and defiance in the face of tyranny, honoring their determination to stand up against injustice.



Güterbahnhof Moabit

The Güterbahnhof (freight train station) Moabit in Berlin was a site of horror during the Nazi era, where over 30,000 people were deported to ghettos and extermination camps. Now, a memorial project led by the Berlin artist collective Raumlabor is underway. Named "Hain," it involves planting 24 pine trees and installing two Corten steel information plaques detailing the deportations.


Jewish Girls' School and Ahawah Orphanage

The Jewish Girls' School in Berlin, founded in 1835, relocated to Auguststraße in 1930. Closed in 1942 during WWII, it later served as a military hospital. After the war, it became the Bertolt Brecht Oberschule until 1996. In 2009, it was handed over to the Jewish Community of Berlin and leased to Michael Fuchs for cultural use in 2011, reopening in 2012. Additionally, the "Ahawah" orphanage in Berlin, managed by Beate Berger from 1922, provided refuge for East European refugee children and aimed to relocate them to Palestine amidst increasing persecution in the 1930s. Berger continued her work until her death in 1940. There's a plaque commemorating the orphanage, right next to the old girls' school.



Sammellager Levetzowstraße

The Sammellager Levetzowstraße in Berlin-Moabit served as a collection point for Jews before their deportation to concentration camps during World War II. Today, the Mahnmal Levetzowstraße stands at the site, commemorating the victims of these deportations. The memorial features a symbolic freight wagon and a large steel wall bearing the dates of 63 deportation trains. The original synagogue on this site was misused by the Nazis as a gathering point for Jews before their deportation. It no longer exists.


Lindenstraße Synagogue Memorial

The Blatt Memorial, created by Israeli artists Micha Ullman, Zvi Hecker, and Eyal Weizman in 1997, is located in a courtyard of the Barmer Ersatzkasse in Berlin-Kreuzberg. It consists of concrete benches arranged in the exact footprint of the former Lindenstraße Synagogue, symbolizing pages from a Jewish prayer book. The memorial serves as a poignant reminder of the synagogue's history and the events that transpired at its location during the November Pogroms of 1938. Accessible only on weekdays due to its location on private property, the memorial is accompanied by three accessible plaques detailing its significance.

5. WW2 & Holocaust Museums in Berlin


Topography of Terror Documentation Centre

Erected on the former grounds of the SS and Gestapo headquarters, the Topography of Terror Documentation Centre unveils the sinister machinery of Nazi repression. Its outdoor exhibition, accompanied by preserved ruins, offers visitors a chilling immersion into this dark chapter of history.



Otto Weidt Workshop for the Blind

Tucked away near the Hackesche Höfe, Otto Weidt's workshop served as a haven for blind and deaf Jews during the Nazi era. The survival of this workshop stands as a testament to Weidt's courageous defiance against persecution, including a remarkable hidden room behind a shelf that sheltered an entire family for months.



Resistance Museum in Bendlerblock

Housed within the historic Bendlerblock, the Resistance Museum meticulously chronicles the anti-Nazi efforts, showcasing the bravery of individuals like Claus Schenk Graf von Stauffenberg. This site, where Stauffenberg was executed, vividly depicts the stories of those who fought for justice, offering a poignant tribute to their resilience amidst adversity.


Bonhoeffer House Memorial

The Bonhoeffer House Memorial and Meeting Place, built in 1935 as a retirement home for Dietrich and Klaus Bonhoeffer's parents, served as a hub for resistance against the Nazis. Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a prominent theologian and vocal opponent of the Nazi regime, was arrested by the Gestapo in 1943 and executed in the Flossenbürg concentration camp. Klaus Bonhoeffer, a lawyer and staunch anti-Nazi, was involved in resistance activities and was executed in Berlin in 1945. After being used by the Evangelical Student Community, the house was renovated and reopened in 1987 as a memorial and meeting place, housing a permanent exhibition on Dietrich Bonhoeffer's life and work. Today, it is open for visits and retreats, offering a library and video collection.


Martin Niemöller House

The Martin-Niemöller-Haus in Berlin-Dahlem is a significant memorial site commemorating the period of the Church Struggle and resistance against Nazi dictatorship. It honors the Dahlem members of the Confessing Church and reflects on the implications of historical events for contemporary societal actions. Additionally, it acknowledges the failure of Christians in the face of antisemitism and the suffering of numerous victims of the Nazi regime. This memorial serves as a reminder of Martin Niemöller's famous quote "First they came..." which highlights the importance of speaking out against injustice and oppression.


House of the Wannsee Conference

The House of the Wannsee Conference, located in Wannsee, Berlin, is a significant historical site associated with the Holocaust. On January 20, 1942, high-ranking Nazi officials convened at this villa to coordinate the implementation of the "Final Solution," the plan to systematically exterminate Jews across Nazi-occupied Europe. Led by SS-Obergruppenführer Reinhard Heydrich, the conference formalized plans for the deportation and mass murder of millions of Jews. Today, the villa serves as a memorial and educational center, commemorating the victims of the Holocaust and documenting the atrocities committed during this dark chapter of history.



SA Prison Papestraße

The SA Prison Papestraße, located in Berlin, was a detention facility operated by the Sturmabteilung (SA), also known as the Brownshirts, during the Nazi era. It was used primarily for the incarceration and torture of political prisoners and opponents of the Nazi regime. The prison played a significant role in the suppression of dissent and the consolidation of Nazi power in the early 1930s. Many individuals deemed enemies of the state were detained, interrogated, and subjected to brutal treatment within its walls.


Forced Labour Camp Schöneweide

The Documentation Center on Nazi Forced Labor in Berlin, located in a former NS labor camp in Schöneweide, commemorates more than 3,000 forced labor camps in Berlin. Through thematic exhibitions and preserved buildings like "Baracke 13," visitors gain insight into the harsh conditions faced by forced laborers during World War II. The center also highlights the involvement of German companies in the forced labor system and offers multimedia presentations on deportation routes. Free guided tours are available, and the center provides educational workshops and resources for groups. With its dedicated blog, the center ensures that personal accounts and memories related to this history are documented and remembered.


Museum Karlshorst

The Museum Karlshorst is housed in the former officers' mess of the Wehrmacht's communication troops, which served as the site of the unconditional surrender of Nazi Germany on May 8, 1945.

The museum exhibits artifacts, documents, and multimedia presentations that illustrate the final stages of the war, the signing of the German Instrument of Surrender, and the beginning of the post-war era. Visitors can explore the various aspects of the conflict, including military strategies, diplomatic negotiations, and the human experience during wartime.


Cecilienhof Palace

Cecilienhof Palace, located in Potsdam, gained historical significance as the venue for the Potsdam Conference in 1945. This conference, held from July 17 to August 2, involved the leaders of the United States, the Soviet Union, and the United Kingdom – President Harry S. Truman, Premier Joseph Stalin, and Prime Minister Winston Churchill (replaced by Clement Attlee midway) respectively – gathering to discuss post-World War II Europe and address key issues such as the division of Germany and the administration of defeated Nazi territories.


Silent Heroes Museum

The Silent Heroes Memorial honors those who resisted Nazi persecution and aided persecuted Jews during World War II. Through its exhibition, it showcases stories of courage and sacrifice, highlighting successful and failed rescue attempts while emphasizing the resilience of those who defied the Nazis' oppressive regime.

6. Nazi Architecture in Berlin


Olympic Stadium

Built for the 1936 Summer Olympics, the Olympic Stadium embodies Nazi grandeur. While it stands today as a reminder of architecture manipulated for propaganda, it remains a venue for sporting events.



Air Force Ministry

The remains of the Air Force Ministry, once a monumental symbol of Nazi power, reflect the ambitious architectural visions of the Third Reich. Despite its colossal size, it survived World War II and now houses the German finance ministry.



Tempelhof Airport Building

The massive Tempelhof Airport building, featuring imposing Nazi-era architecture, remains an iconic structure. Originally envisioned as a symbol of Hitler's aviation ambitions, the airport now serves as a versatile public space. At its completion, it held the title of the world's largest building until surpassed by the Pentagon.


The Eagle without the Swastika

The Reichsadler, a symbol of Nazi Germany, once adorned the entrance of the Finanzamt Charlottenburg, a tax office building constructed from 1936 to 1939 in Berlin-Charlottenburg. Originally clutching a swastika, the eagle now holds the house number in its talons, symbolizing a transformation from its original context.


The abandoned Goebbels Villa

In Brandenburg, amidst a forest near a lake, stands an abandoned U-shaped building known as "Bogensee," built in 1939. It was once the country estate of Nazi Minister Joseph Goebbels, hosting guests from the cultural and media spheres. Later, it briefly housed the Soviet military and then became a youth college for the Free German Youth (FDJ). The city of Berlin now owns the property, leaving it abandoned on purpose.



Propaganda Ministry

The former "Reichsministerium für Volksaufklärung und Propaganda" building in Mitte now houses the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs. Originally designed by Karl-Friedrich Schinkel in 1828, it underwent expansions under the Nazis. Despite post-war modifications, remnants of its original design remain, reflecting its enduring Nazi architectural style. Renovations led by architect Joseph Paul Kleihues aim to adaptively reuse the building while integrating adjacent structures like the "Kleisthaus" and creating new spaces, preserving its historical significance while breaking from its Nazi past.


Exhibition Hall

Richard Ermisch, a Berlin architect, constructed the 240-meter-long exhibition hall beneath the Funkturm from 1935 to 1937. This architectural masterpiece blends modern influences with a classical-monumental style typical of Nazi architecture, featuring a clear design language and innovative construction methods such as the use of steel-reinforced concrete skeleton.


The New Reich Chancellery

Hitler's New Reich Chancellery was an enormous government building, serving as the headquarters of Adolf Hitler's administration during World War II. It was heavily bombed during the war and demolished in 1945. Today, an information sign stands at the site, providing historical context about the building and its significance. Funny enough, a Chinese restaurant named Peking Ente (Beijing Duck) now occupies the area, adding a touch of irony to the location's history. The restaurant even has its own information about the former Reich Chancellery building.

The Embassies of Italy and Japan

Both the Japanese and Italian embassies in Berlin are notable examples of Nazi architecture. It is no surprise that the two main allies to Nazi Germany have their embassies next to each other. Designed during the Third Reich era, the Japanese Embassy was overseen by Albert Speer. The Italian Embassy, designed by Friedrich Hetzelt, features a neoclassical style with Italian limestone façades. Despite suffering war damage, both buildings were restored after German reunification and continue to serve as important diplomatic representations in the city.

Spanish Embassy

Likewise, the Spanish Embassy building exemplifies the architectural style prevalent during the Third Reich era. This neoclassical structure, with its two-wing design and corner entrance, reflects the grandeur and classical motifs favored by the regime. The facade is characterized by stone banding at the ground level and features a prominent relief of the Spanish coat of arms (made with newer stones, as it replaced the old fascist coat of arms) above the main entrance, showcasing the architectural aesthetics of that time.


Fehrbelliner Platz

Fehrbelliner Platz offers a glimpse into Berlin's architectural vision under Nazi rule, reminiscent of Hitler's planned capital, 'Germania.' Dominating the square in Wilmersdorf are imposing functional buildings, once housing offices for insurance companies and state associations like the German Labour Front. Designed by architect Otto Flirl in a style typical of Nazi architecture, these structures feature heroic reliefs, natural stone facades, and monumental figures, reflecting the totalitarian aesthetic of the era before World War II.


Schwerbelastungskörper

The Nazis constructed a colossal concrete cylinder around 1941, intending to simulate the structural dynamics of a grand triumphal arch envisioned for Hitler's 'Germania' plans after an assumed victory. While this vision never materialized, the 12,650-ton behemoth remains standing as a protected monument in the no-man's land between Schöneberg and Tempelhof, surprising and unsettling those who encounter it.


Albert Speer's Street Lanterns

During the construction of Germania, Hitler's vision for a grand capital, Albert Speer designed street lanterns in 1938 specifically for the newly created East-West Axis. These lanterns were presented to Hitler at the Reich Chancellery and received his approval. Unlike traditional street lamps that hang over the road, these lanterns were strategically placed parallel to the street to illuminate the Axis without disrupting its perspective. Approximately 350 out of the original 700 lanterns are still in existence today, serving as remnants of this ambitious architectural project.

Reichsbank

The Reichsbank began planning an expansion in 1932, with Adolf Hitler personally laying the foundation stone in 1934. Completed in 1940 after six years of construction, the building housed cash halls on the ground floor and offices in the upper levels. It was intended for the board's offices to move into a planned North Block, which was never built. It now houses the German Foreign Ministry.


Organization Todt

In Berlin, a conspicuous building on Friedrichstraße 34, near "Checkpoint Charlie," bears a striking Nazi-era Reichsadler atop its roof. Constructed in 1940, the architecture of this massive edifice, measuring 70 meters wide, 110 meters deep, and spanning six floors, epitomizes the style of the time with its symmetrical design and smooth façade. Originally intended for the "Gauarbeitsamt des Gaues Brandenburg," it never housed this entity but instead became the headquarters for the "Organisation Todt," named after Fritz Todt, the Reich Minister for Armaments and Munitions. This organization was notorious for utilizing the forced labor of hundreds of thousands of prisoners, including those from concentration camps, to construct various military installations like the Westwall, Atlantikwall, U-boat bunkers, and Führer headquarters. Today, the building accommodates the Regional Directorate of the Berlin-Brandenburg Employment Agency.

7. Other WW2, Third Reich and Holocaust Sites in and around Berlin


Book Burning Memorial

The Berlin Book Burning Memorial, located on Bebelplatz, commemorates the infamous Nazi book burning that took place on May 10, 1933. The memorial consists of a window in the ground, through which visitors can peer down and see empty bookshelves, symbolizing the loss of intellectual freedom and the suppression of ideas. A quote from Heinrich Heine, "That was only a prelude; where they burn books, they will in the end also burn people," serves as a haunting reminder of the consequences of censorship and totalitarianism.



Seelow Heights

The Seelow Heights, located an hour east of Berlin near the town of Seelow, is a historic battleground that witnessed one of the most significant clashes of World War II. It was here, in April 1945, that the Soviet Red Army launched a massive offensive against Nazi Germany in what became known as the Battle of the Seelow Heights. The battle, part of the larger Battle of Berlin, marked a crucial turning point in the war, ultimately leading to the Soviet capture of Berlin and the end of the Third Reich. Today, there's a museum, a memorial, several cemeteries as well as the historic battle fields.



Rangsdorf Airport

The abandoned Rangsdorf Airfield is a former aviation site situated in the municipality of Rangsdorf, just south of Berlin. Built between 1935 and 1936, the airfield and its buildings are mostly protected as historical monuments. Initially established as both a water and land airport for civilian aviation activities, including a flight school and the Bücker Aircraft Company's operational area, the airfield was officially utilized by the Luftwaffe from 1939 onwards. During 1945–1994, the site was occupied by the Soviet Air Force. The Rangsdorf Airfield holds historical significance as it was the departure point for Claus Schenk Graf von Stauffenberg and his adjutant Werner von Haeften on July 20, 1944, when they flew from here in a He 111 to the Führer's headquarters at the Wolf's Lair in Rastenburg, East Prussia, where they attempted the assassination of Adolf Hitler.



Reichstag

The Reichstag predates Nazi Germany and serves as the current seat of the German Parliament. However, its history took a dark turn when the Reichstag fire in 1933 paved the way for Nazi rule, allowing Hitler to consolidate power. During World War II, the Reichstag suffered significant damage but was eventually captured by Soviet forces in 1945, marking the end of the war in Berlin. It holds the distinction of being the last major building to be seized by the Soviets in their advance towards the heart of Nazi Germany.



Water Tower Torture Center

The Prenzlauer Berg Water Tower, built before the Third Reich, served as a site of atrocities following the Nazi takeover in 1933. Its cellar spaces were used as an improvised concentration camp where Communists, Socialists, Jews, and others deemed undesirable by the new regime were interned and murdered without trial. A memorial wall on the water tower grounds has commemorated these crimes since 1981. The water tower was converted into an SA (Sturmabteilung) barracks in June 1933, with its machinery houses repurposed into dining and recreational areas for SA members.


Potsdam Garrison Church

The Garrison Church in Potsdam, known for the Day of Potsdam ceremony in 1933, was heavily damaged during World War II and later demolished by East German authorities in 1968. However, it was reconsecrated in 2024. The Day of Potsdam ceremony, held shortly after Hitler's appointment as Chancellor, symbolized the alliance between the Nazi regime and the conservative establishment, including the Prussian military. Today, the rebuilt Garrison Church stands as a symbol of historical reconciliation and remembrance.

The "People's" Court

The Volksgerichtshof in Schöneberg was a notorious Nazi People's Court where unjust trials and executions took place during the Third Reich. Today, a memorial plaque stands near the original building, commemorating the victims of the court's injustice and reminding visitors of this dark chapter in history.


Schwanenwerder Island

Schwanenwerder, located in the Havel River near Berlin, became a hub for high-ranking Nazi officials during the National Socialist era. It was marked by forced sales and auctions of Jewish-owned properties, benefiting Nazi elites. Notably, Propaganda Minister Joseph Goebbels acquired multiple properties at significantly reduced prices. The island also housed other prominent figures, such as chemist Max Baginski and Hitler's physician Theo Morell. Today, remnants of its complex history remain, including a Luftschutzbunker and reconstructed buildings that reflect its past.


Carinhall

Carinhall, owned by Nazi leader Hermann Göring, was a lavish estate in Brandenburg's Schorfheide forest. Named after his late wife Carin, it served as a hunting retreat and housed Göring's extensive art collection, much of it stolen. As WWII ended, the estate was bombed and destroyed on Göring's orders. Today, only remnants remain, with some sculptures relocated to museums.

Sportpalast

The Sportpalast, located in Schöneberg district, was a significant venue during the Nazi era, particularly known for the propaganda event held there on February 18, 1943. This event, known as the "Sportpalast Speech" delivered by Joseph Goebbels, was a rallying cry for total war effort amidst the declining military situation. The speech was characterized by its fervent nationalism and calls for fanatical devotion to Hitler and the Nazi cause. It marked a turning point in Nazi propaganda and public sentiment. Today, the Sportpalast no longer exists, but a hidden memorial plaque and information board can be found.


Memorial to the Murdered Members of the Reichstag

The Memorial to the Murdered Members of the Reichstag, located near the Reichstag building in Berlin, commemorates the 96 members of the Reichstag who were killed during the Nazi regime. The memorial consists of a bronze plaque with the names of the murdered representatives, set into the ground at the base of a tree. It serves as a somber reminder of the tragic loss of life and the atrocities committed during this dark period of history.




For those intrigued by this historical chapter and exploring other European cities, my reliable private guide counterparts in Paris, Prague, Krakow and London provide tours on this subject. In fact, here's a compelling read on WW2 in Prague.


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