The site of the infamous Wannsee Conference of January 1942, where the 'Final Solution' to the 'Jewish problem' was mapped out in detail.
Very well laid out exhibit, basically in 3 sections: The background leading up to the Conference, the Conference itself, and the Conference's aftermath. All exhibits in German and English. In the Conference room itself, additional Hebrew translations. Very comprehensive. As Israelis, we skipped certain areas of stuff we were familiar with, but still spent 1.5 hours there. I would recommend allowing for 3 hours here. Don't forget to go to the grounds at the back of the villa, bordering on the lake.
I visited in November, 2013.
Max Liebermann, the renowned German-Jewish painter, bought the lakeshore villa in Wannsee in 1909. Here he painted many of his later works, inspired by the beautiful 7000 square meter garden with its flower beds and the linden tree aisle leading to the lake.
In 1940 Liebermann's widow was forced to sell the villa to the German Post Office, and the house served for other purposes later on, but now the house and garden have been restored to their pre-second-world-war condition. The house contains a remarkable selection of Libermann's paintings, especially those painted in Wansee and depicting the house and garden.
It is a unique experience to stroll in the garden, among the flower beds and along the linden-tree aisle, with trees planted along the path and on the path in a seemingly disordered way, and then to look at the paintings in the house showing these very same sights as viewed and painted by the artist.
I visited the Libermann villa after being to the House of the Wannsee Conference, a very different lakeshore villa a 10 minute walk down the road (see my tip abot it). The contrast between the two is obvious and thought-provoking.
For those who do not know: The Wannsee Conference took place in January 1942.
High-ranking Nazi officials met in the pastoral setting of a villa on beautiful lake Wannsee, and discussed plans for the genocide of the Jewish people in Europe. This is where the "Final Solution" was conceived.
This villa belomged to the SS during the Nazi period. In recent years it has finally become a museum commemorating the terrible historical event. The grounds have been restored to what they looked like in 1942. The exhibition tells the chilling story in words and photographs.
However, the most striking thing about visiting this villa is the sharp contrast between the idyllic setting and the terrible plans conceived there. I strolled in the garden, among beautiful flowers and bushes, saw vases with decorations depicting children happily playing, and watched the boats gently rolling on the calm water of the lake; I also imagined the SS officers strolling in the same garden, and at the same time discussing how to murder men, women and children in the most efficient way.
Visiting the Villa of the Wannsee Conference is a powerful experience.
It's open daily 10:00-18:00, entrance is free.
Wannsee is a worth while half-day trip from Berlin, and it is very easily accessible by S-Bahn line no. 7. You can get on this train in many stations in Tiergarten, Hauptbahnhof and Mitte, and the trip is considered within "zone B", so that if you have a day-pass or a 7-day-pass for zones A&B this covers the journey to Wannsee.
On the way I would recommend dedicating 15 minutes of your time to get off the train in the Grunewald station, go to Platform 17 ("Gleis 17") and visit the monument to the Jews transported to concentration camps and death camps from that very platform during the Nazi period. Then you can board the next S7-train to continue to Wannsee.
To reach Wannsee take the North/South train line on Berlin's excellent public transport system. From the Wannsee station it is a short walk to the bus stop. A circular bus route runs around the area and drops off outside the Villa - the stop is 'Haus De Wannsee Konference.' The same bus will take you back to the train station, where you can catch the same train back to Berlin centre.