“Ich habe den Krieg verhindern wollen.” (I wanted to prevent the war.) ~Georg Elser, November 1939
Along Wilhelmstrasse, not far from the former Chancellery and around the corner from the Führer bunker stands a tall, sleek outline of a man’s head. This is a memorial to Johann Georg Elser, the man who attempted to murder Hitler in Munich on November 8, 1939 but whose plan was foiled as Hitler unexpectedly left the area before the explosion occurred. Elser was later caught trying to cross the border into Switzerland from Konstanz and was tortured and send to Dachau Concentration Camp, where he died in April 1945.
There are several controversies surrounding Elser and whether or not he acted alone or as an agent of another group/country. Many years after his death, it was determined that he acted alone in his hopes of preventing a war.
The memorial is a new one – built in 2011 – and was designed by Ulrich Klages after a Europe-wide competition.
The statue is located at the corner of Wilhelmstrasse and An der Kolonnade. The exact location can be found on this Googlemap.
Joseph Goebbels was the minister for propaganda during the Third Reich, serving from 1933 until his death in 1945. The official title of the office was Reich Ministry of Public Enlightenment and Propaganda and it was responsible for regulating German society, controlling the media, culture, and public opinion. It took advantage of the new media such as film and radio, as well as print media.
The ministry was housed in the former Ordenspalais on Wilhelmstrasse, not far from the Chancellery. Today, this area no longer exists except as a park with a U-bahn station below. However, part of the former annex to the Ministry of Propaganda is still standing, today used as the German Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs. The building is just around the corner from Wilhelmstrasse and the Mohrenstrasse U-bahn station.
The location of the annex from the former Ministry of Propaganda can be found on this Googlemap.
The former Third Reich Chancellery was destroyed, but visitors to Berlin can still see a part of the brownish-red marble used for the interior in the Mohrenstrasse U-Bahn station located just off Wilhelmstrasse. Hitler’s chief architect, Albert Speer, designed the Chancellery to be an intimidating edifice, with the intent on making visitors to the offices feel inferior.
The marble in the U-bahn station is from the Mosaics Hall of the Chancellery. After the war, the Soviets would use the marble to rebuild the U-bahn station simply because it was a readily available already in the area of the station.
The marble gives the station a completely different look from the other U-bahn stations, which tend to be old looking. Certainly this station is old as well, but the marble just gives it a different look. Personally, I liked the look but others in my group did not like it at all and found that station to be dark. You will just have to go see for yourself.
The station is free to enter and look around – you’ll see the marble on the platform columns and on the walls across the train tracks; you can’t miss it. Simply walk down the stairs under the blue “U” sign at the Mohrenstrasse station (no ticket required to look!).
The location of the U-bahn station can be found on this Googlemap.
One of the few large buildings in Berlin to survive the World War II bombings was the former Third Reich’s Ministry of Aviation (Reichsluftfahrtsministerium), led by Hermann Göring. This is a very large building that still stands today and is currently used as the German Ministry of Finance. I found it surprising that such a large building, especially one that was of military importance (the Aviation Ministry was in charge of the aircraft and their development), could survive – I would think that this building would be specifically targeted by the Allies for destruction.
The building is on Wilhelmstrasse and its corner is just across the street from the current Topography of Terror Museum. A good bit of the interior has been renovated but the outside remains very similar to what it looked like during the Third Reich (minus the obvious symbols of the Reich). It has been used in several films so it may even look familiar to WWII film fans.
It is a great example of Third Reich architecture – a plain and simple, strong, solid block building with many windows. The interior had 2,000 rooms, which gives you an idea of how big this building is (even more impressive that it was not destroyed). Following the war, the building was used by the German Democratic Republic (GDR) for government use before becoming the Finance Ministry in the reunited German government.
In my photos you can see this huge building in the background of the outside display at the Topography of Terror Museum. Also, an old section of the Berlin wall is on the street beside the former Ministry of Aviation, next to the Topography of Terror (photo above).
The exact location of the former Ministry of Aviation can be found on this Googlemap.
Address: Wilhelmstraße 97 - 10117 Berlin
During my last trip to Berlin I decided to find a house where Maria von Maltzan lived during WWII. The present residents of the house at 11 Detmolder Strasse didn't want the commemorative plaque to be put on their building, so it was placed in front of it.
Maria von Maltzan was a fascinating person, life-long rebel and heroine, whose life was depicted in the film "Forbidden". I haven't seen the film but read her autobiography "Beat the drums and don't be afraid". Her story was even more interesting for me, as she was born in Militsch, a place just a couple kilometres from my home-town Wroclaw. (Before WWII it belonged to Germany, but then it was handed over to Poland together with other territories.)
Maria was born in 1909 in an aristocratic family as the youngest of seven children. She had a happy chidhood, although her mother didn't give her much affection. She was very attached to her father who died when she was just 12. She quickly had to learn how to be independent. She managed to achieve her goal and became a vet. During WWII she hid a number of Jewish people in her Berlin house, including her lover and future husband Hans Hirschel. Their baby died shortly after premature birth, when the power supply to the incubator was cut off. After the war it turned out that Maria and Hans weren't intended to be together. Maria was in poor health and dependent on drugs. However, she still worked as a vet. In 1975 she opened her own clinic in Kreuzberg and soon became very popular with locals. She often treated their pets free of charge. She died in Berlin in 1997.
Outside Philharmonic Hall in the Tiergarten Kulturforum I spotted a strange monument: a full-size bus made of grey cement, cut in its middle. There were some flower bouquets nearby, and a board which explained the mystery: This place has a terrible and chilling history from the Nazi period.
This was the headquarters of the Euthanasia Act, which planned and executed the systematic murder of 200,000 mentally ill patients and other invalids during the years 1940-1941. This act was named "T4", after the address "Tiergarten 4", location of the headquarters for this "special agency", and this is where I was standing now.
Actually, there is a modern bus stop ("Philharmonic Hall") at the exact same spot!
In the photo you can see Philharmonic Hall in the background.
Although it's "off the beaten track", visiting this monument is a powerful experience, and reflecting on these horrors will help ensure that they will never be perpetrated again, anywhere in the world.
In Berlin there are 3 large Soviet War Memorials that were erected soon after the end of WW2. The most well known is probably the one in the Tiergarten Park, which is close to the Reichstag. As the battle for Berlin was costly in terms of lives there are other smaller memorials scattered about the former East Germany. One of these memorials is in the Buch Schloss Park. Soldiers that had died during the battle for Berlin were buried here after the battle. The memorial was constructed in 1947/8 and the soldiers were reburied in larger cemeteries in Berlin. The memorial stands on the edge of the Schloss Park which originally had a castle and orangery, which was used by the mayors of Berlin as a summer house. This did not fit in with Soviet ideals and they were demolished in the 50s and 60s. Take the S2 to Bernau. Outside the railway station turn right along Wiltbergstrasse. The memorial is about 5 minutes walk away on the opposite side of the road.
On Levetzowstrasse no. 7, not far from the Tiergarten and the Spree, near a synagogue which does not exist any more, is the site where Jews were first loaded into cattle train-wagons and transported to concentration camps in the east.
The monument consists of a wagon loaded with human stone figures, a memorial wall with the details of all transports, and memorial plaques to the synagogues set on fire on Crystal Night.
The wagon monumet very vividly evokes those sad memories.
Many S-Bahn train pass through the Grunewald Bahnhof all the time (on the way to Potsdam, for example).
Not many passengers know that during World War II platform 17 of the Grunewald station used to be the place where Jews were herded into cattle transport wagons and were sent away to concentration camps in the east, to be murdered there.
Nowadays Gleis 17 (Platform 17) is a memorial to those tetrrible events.
As you walk along the platform you see the dates and destinations of all the transports that left this platform during the Holocaust, with the number of people transported to their death: "... 28.9.1943 74 Juden Berlin - Auschwitz; 14.10.1943 74 Juden Berlin - Auschwitz"... The tragedy is divided into small parcels...
It only takes a minute to get off the train and go to platoform 17 (look for the sign: Gleis 17), but it is a powerful experience.
After the WW II, for a respect of existence, there are yellow metal plates , hammered to the ground. Those metal plates are in front of the houses on which Hebrews lived in and taken away to the concentration camps. You can see those people s name, birth date, date of death and name of the camp..
sad but a kind respect to keep the memory alive.
please watch your step
this was a really interesting museum. the entrance way is hidden so you have to look for a ramp at the other end of the monument from the main road.
the signage is all in english and german - my colleague (spanish) had to pay for a headset and said she was bored by the end - it takes longer to listen to everything than just read the walls. headsets are not available in english or german.
you get searched like at the airport when you get in and have to walk through an exray. all bags must be xrayed too.
good information and stuff - but i feel that the holocaust exhibition in london´s imperial war museum was more informative - maybe they should ship some of london´s displays over?
the monument is really cool- but you can find postcards of it all over berlin with people and children climbing all over it. you can´t actually clim on it as the guards will ask you to get down.
it´s really hard to take pictures of it anyway - as it´s so big - so you´d probably be better buying a postcard.
the gift shop/ book shop is really well stocked and if you want to study a subject related to the second world war or the holocaust - then you´ll probably find a book about it here.
this is really good. i went in the summer (not sure if it would be so hot in the winter as berlin gets pretty cold). and its all open air.
it looks a bit weird at first as all you see are boards and stuff and a pathway running round the garden. you pick up your headphones - which are entirely FREE and you can listen in various languages.
theres spanish, english and german (not sure if their are other languages - but probably - the danish girl with me had to listen in english).
really interested and a bit of an insight to the goings on in germany before the second world war.
Just the other day I watched a report on old remains of bunkers and tunnels in Berlin. The exploration of these forgotten buildings is done by well equiped and skilled members of an association called "Berliner-Unterwelten eV". Three bunkers are open to public an can be toured. I hat the opportunity to do it and it was quite scarry and fascinating at the same time. For opening hours and prices see the site below. Try it! Its worth while.
This is a nice approach to mark the void created by the WWII bombs. In one of the side streets near Oranienburger strasse the place where the residential building stood untill 1943 was marked in 1990 by french artist Christian Boltanski. What he did is simple and powerful at the same time - he simply put plates on side walls of the surviving buildings recalling the names, dates and professions of the former inhabitants of the house that was destroyed by the bombings.
Watching the movies about World War II with Germans as the Bad Guys makes it rather easy to forget that Berlin (and most of other German towns) suffered fierce bombings during the war and while the officials had their bunkers where they were hiding it is the ordinary citizens that suffered very much losing almost everything overnight.
The Missing House
Grosse Hamburger Strasse, S-bahn stop Hackescher Markt.
The exhibit » blind trust - hidden at the Hackesche Höfe « tells the history of the blind person's workshop Otto Weidt. Here worked during the Nazi era primarily blind and deaf Jews. In the guidance the uncompromising application is picked out as a central theme by Otto Weidt for his Jewish workers. He offered to the family horn in a Hinterraum of the workshop a hiding place. The rooms are received to a great extent in the original and offer to visitors by the authenticity of this place special possibilities to get to know the history of the blind person's workshop.