The Topography of Terror
Catchy name, huh? Yes, it’s a museum/exhibit/historical sight in Berlin (what were you expecting?). The Topography of Terror is an outdoor museum on Niederkirchnerstrasse, at the former sight of the Nazi SS and Gestapo headquarters. (I’m not sure if I should really say “former”, since there is no “current” … but I think you know what I mean.)
During the war, many atrocities occurred here, and I hesitate to think about the suffering this cellar has seen. The structure was badly damaged by Allied bombing in the war, and was almost completely demolished afterwards. When the Wall went up in 1961, this area was cut off from both sides, and became a no-man’s land. After reunification, this portion of wall was left intact, and is today the longest section still extant. In 1987 the site was excavated, and the remaining basement sections were preserved. A joint exhibition (with both East and West Germany) that explored the history of Nazi terrorism at the sight was staged in 1989.
However, it wasn’t until 2010 that a new documentation center and museum building opened to the public, which creates a larger context for the sight. Designed by the architect Ursula Wilms, the Documentation Center is a low, square box with a spartan and minimalist design. I found it quite appropriate to the somber location, and the displays and exhibits were definitely interesting.
I’ve attached this picture, from Wikipedia, to give you a better idea of how the cellar of the Gestapo headquarters appears today. Being covered in snow made it difficult to see how everything fit together! While the site is outside, it’s been covered by a glass canopy. There are both steps and a ramp to get down to the basement level. I think there are future plans to expand the site, perhaps with a more detailed exhibition and larger building, but I might be wrong about that. Here are the pictures that we took!