There is a lot to look at, so come prepared to spend the whole morning or afternoon here. The longer you spend, the more the story starts to make sense.
The Topography of Terror ranks very highly in the hierarchy of Berlin museums. Located on Niederkirchnerstrasse, the museum’s buildings stand on the site of those which were the headquarters of the Gestapo and the SS, the principal instruments of terror during the Nazi regime.
The exhibits explain the German experience from 1920-1945, and tell the frightening story of how such an advanced country could descend into fascism and intolerance so quickly.
The cellars of the Gestapo headquarters were discovered and excavated in 1987. It was here that many political prisoners were tortured and executed.
The excavation was a rare example of cooperation between East and West German researchers, and a joint exhibition was shown both at the site and in East Germany in 1989. The two sides of the wall joined forces to exorcise the horrors of the previous epoch in the liberalising years at the end of the Communist period. At the same time, however, the infamous Stasi, the East German secret service were carrying out equally horrifying interrogations.
The later construction of the new centre, a prize-winning design by the architect Ursula Wilms and the landscape architect Heinz W. Hallmann, was finished and opened in 2010. Photographs, recordings, newspapers and documents abound, presenting a detailed and important study of recent German history.
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