Here is our list: Hitler in Berlin - remnants of the "Third Reich".
To give you a comprehensive overview of this dark chapter of Berlin, we have divided the list into three categories. At the end, you will find a timeline of the Nazi era in Berlin.
First, we inform you about important memorials and museums that document the horrors of the Nazi regime. Then read about which Berlin landmarks were functionalized by the Nazis.
After that, it's all about the preserved Nazi architecture in Berlin. Learn which Nazi relics were repurposed and are used for other purposes today.
Hitler in Berlin: Museums & Memorials
1. Topography of Terror
Topography of Terror, which sheds light on the National Socialists' reign of terror under Adolf Hitler, is both a museum and a Nazi relic. This is because Berlin's most visited museum is located on the former site of the most important control centers of the "Third Reich."
The permanent exhibitions focus on the following:
- Topography of Terror. Gestapo, SS and Reich Security Main Office in Wilhelm- and Prinz-Albrecht-Strasse.
- Berlin 1933 - 1945. Between Propaganda and Terror
- The historical site Topography of Terror. A tour of the site in 15 stations with a free audio guide.
In addition, temporary exhibitions can be visited. The visit of the entire documentation is free of charge.
- Read more details about this sight in our main article Topography of Terror.
2. Jewish Museum Berlin
Europe's largest Jewish Museum has been located in Berlin since 2001. Here you can immerse yourself in over 1700 years of Jewish history. Inside the old baroque building you can have a look at special exhibitions for which a fee is charged.
The free permanent exhibition "Jewish History and Present in Germany" is located in the new building. It tells the story of the Jews in Germany from the beginnings to the present in five historical chapters. This exhibition gives you an understanding of the horrors of National Socialism, among other things.
3. Anne Frank Center
Anne Frank became one of the world's most famous victims of the Holocaust through the diary she wrote in her hiding place during the Nazi occupation of the Netherlands. She kept it from June 12, 1942, to Aug. 1, 1944, mostly in what is now the Anne Frank House in Amsterdam. There she was discovered after two years and deported to the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp, where she died shortly before the end of the war in 1945.
The exhibition "All About Anne" is dedicated to Anne Frank's life story and makes connections between it and the present.
4. Berlin Story Bunker
How did it happen that so many people voted for Hitler? How did Hitler become a Nazi? How did Hitler come to power? How did anti-Semitism lead to concentration camps and the Holocaust? Why did generals and soldiers go along with it until the end?
You will find answers to these and other questions you have always asked yourself in the Berlin Story Bunker. The documentary "Hitler - How Could It Happen?" in a former air-raid shelter from 1942 comprehensively illustrates the rise of Hitler and his National Socialist Party in 38 themed sections up to his last hideout, the Führerbunker.
5. Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe
The Holocaust is one of the greatest crimes of mankind. Before the Second World War and the Nazi terror, about 12 million Jews lived in Europe. In total, about six million of them were systematically murdered.
As a place of remembrance and reminders, the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe commemorates the victims of the Holocaust. It consists of an undulating "Field of Stelae" and the underground "Place of Information", where the persecution and extermination of the Jews of Europe and the sites of these crimes are documented.
- Read more details about this sight in our article Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe.
6. New Synagogue Berlin
On the night of November 9-10, 1938, members of the SA (Sturmabteilung: “Assault Division”) set fire to the New Synagogue, built in 1866. Wilhelm Krützfeld, head of Police Station 16, drew the arsonists' attention to the building's decades-long protection as a historical monument and alerted the fire department, which extinguished the blaze. Other Berlin synagogues succumbed to the flames.
On the night of November 23, 1943, the house of worship was heavily destroyed by British bombs. After the war, the ruins served as a supplier of building materials and suffered further damage. In the summer of 1958, the damaged parts of the building were completely removed. After restoration work in 1995, the synagogue was reopened but not consecrated again.
7. Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church
The Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church, inaugurated in 1895, was heavily destroyed during the bombing of the city in 1943, only parts of the tower remained. Today, the ruined tower is a symbol of the city risen from the rubble as well as a memorial against war and destruction.
The church tower, at 113 meters, was the tallest structure in the city at the time and the interior was extremely magnificent with many mosaics and murals. In the ruins of the tower there is a memorial hall. A few mosaics can still be seen there.
- Read more details about this sight in our main article Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church.
8. Soviet War Memorial Tiergarten
“Eternal glory to heroes who fell in battle with the German fascist invaders for the freedom and independence of the Soviet Union. 1941-1945".
This is the inscription on the Soviet War Memorial. Since 1945, it has commemorated the fallen soldiers of the Red Army in World War II in general, and the approximately 80,000 soldiers who perished in the Battle of Berlin in particular . The memorial is the oldest of the four Soviet memorials in Berlin.
- Read more details about this landmark in our main article Tiergarten.
9. Permanent exhibition "Myth Germania - Vision and Crime".
“As a world capital Berlin will only be comparable with Ancient Egypt, Babylon, and Rome! What is London, what is Paris compared to that!”
This is how Adolf Hitler summarized his ideas about Berlin as the new Reich capital "Germania" in the night of March 11-12, 1942. The transformation of Berlin under the architect Alfred Speer went from 1937-1943, but Germania was never realized.
The "Berliner Unterwelten" illuminates the whole topic with the multimedia permanent exhibition "Mythos Germania". Film, audio and PC stations, text and image flags, exhibits and architectural models provide a comprehensive insight into the megalomaniac plans. In addition to several original exhibits, the large-scale model of Germania created for the film "The Downfall" is also on display. Various models illustrate the gigantomaniac proportions of the buildings planned at the time.
- Tip: If you are interested, you can take a short detour to the adjacent Volkspark Friedrichshain. There you will find an anti-aircraft tower built in 1941 to defend against Allied air raids.
Hitler in Berlin: Landmarks during the "Third Reich"
10. Brandenburg Gate
When Hitler ruled Berlin, the Brandenburg Gate was often used as a backdrop for stagings. In 1933, for example, his appointment as Reich Chancellor and the "Day of the Assumption of Power" were celebrated with a pompous torchlight procession. The Brandenburg Gate, draped with swastika flags, served as a preferred backdrop for parades and demonstrations of power staged by Propaganda Minister Joseph Goebbels.
During the Battle of Berlin, the Brandenburg Gate was heavily damaged by bombs and shells. To symbolize their victory over the Nazi regime, Red Army soldiers raised the Soviet flag on the remains of the Brandenburg Gate quadriga.
- Read more details about this landmark in our main article Brandenburg Gate.
11. Reichstag Building
The magnificent Reichstag building, built between 1884 and 1894 in the neo-Renaissance style, is one of the most important landmarks in Germany. Just a month after Hitler came to power, the building went up in flames. This marked the beginning of the Nazi dictatorship, because only one day later the "Decree of the Reich President for the Protection of the People and the State" was promulgated, which suspended essential fundamental rights of the Constitution.
During World War II, the corner towers of the Reichstag building were converted into flak towers. AEG produced radio tubes here. In addition, a military hospital and a maternity ward were set up in the basement rooms. During the Battle of Berlin, the Reichstag building was particularly contested, as Red Army soldiers mistakenly saw it as the central symbol of the Nazis. After their victory, two Russian soldiers raised the red Soviet flag on the roof of the building, symbolizing the end of World War II in Europe as well as the end of the Nazi dictatorship.
- Tip: You might want to take a closer look at the beautiful building. After registering, you can take part in a guided tour of the plenary hall and visit the glass dome, from which you have a breathtaking view of Berlin.
- Read more details about this sight in our main article Reichstag Building.
12. Victory Column
The Victory Column was built from 1864 to 1873 in commemoration of Prussia's victories in the so-called Wars of Unity. It originally stood on Königsplatz in front of the Reichstag, today's Platz der Republik.
In 1938, the Nazis moved the Victory Column to the Großer Stern, its present location, as part of the transformation of Berlin into the "Reichshauptstadt Germania". It survived the Second World War largely unscathed. You reach the viewing platform at about 51 meters above sea level via a spiral staircase with 285 steps. As a reward for the effort, Berlin lies at your feet.
- Read more details about this sight in our guide to Victory Column.
Hitler in Berlin: Nazi architecture
13. Tempelhof Airport
The mighty building complex clearly reveals the characteristic features of Nazi architecture between monumentality and modernity. These are also continued in the interior.
The building, constructed of steel and reinforced concrete, withstood Allied bombing in 1943. The airport was occupied by the Soviets in 1945. Later Americans took it over and used it as an air base until 1993. In 1950, parts of the airport were reopened to civil aviation, which lasted, with interruptions, until 2008.
At the "Check-In" visitor center, you can visit the exhibition "A Wide Field" free of charge and learn more about the significance of Tempelhof Airport and field during the Nazi era. Guided tours through the airport building will take you to many a hidden place.
- Tip: In front of the airport building is the Airlift Memorial, inaugurated in 1951. As the name suggests, it commemorates the Berlin Airlift, which was used by the Allies to supply Berliners from the air during the Soviet blockade of Berlin.
14. Reichssportfeld - Olympiastadion - Bell Tower
When Berlin was named the site of the 1936 Olympic Games, the Nazis immediately recognized the prestige value of this international event and initiated the planning of the Reichssportfeld. A symmetrical complex was created with the Olympic Square, the Olympic Stadium, the Maifeld, a parade ground and the Waldbühne.
A history trail on the Olympic grounds with 45 panels provides more detailed information about the former Reichssportfeld. The observation deck of the Olympic Bell Tower offers a wonderful view of Berlin and the surrounding area.
- Tip: If you wish, you can visit the inside of the Olympiastadion on a guided tour and/or visit the observation deck of the Bell Tower.
- Read more details about this sight in our main article Olympiastadion.
15. Former Reich Aviation Ministry
Inaugurated in 1935 by the second most powerful man at the time, Reich Minister of Aviation Hermann Göring, the Reich Aviation Ministry (Reichsluftfahrtministerium) with its 2,000 offices and around 56,000 square meters of floor space reflects National Socialist architecture.
The gigantic building was used, among other things, to plan the invasion of Poland, which triggered the beginning of World War II, as well as to command the air war against England. Due to its massive architecture, the building was able to survive the bombings during World War II largely undamaged.
Belonging to East Berlin during the division of Berlin, the GDR was founded in this building. It was also here that the famous words of GDR leader Walter Ulbricht were uttered just two months before the Berlin Wall was built: "No one has the intention of building a wall."
16. Former Reich Ministry for Public Enlightenment and Propaganda
The "Reich Ministry for Popular Enlightenment and Propaganda" (Reichsministerium für Volksaufklärung und Propaganda) was founded in 1933 with the aim of controlling cultural and mass media and influencing them to the advantage of the Nazi regime. Propaganda was used in Nazi Germany primarily to spread the National Socialist worldview, popularize the Führer cult around Hitler, and win over the German population with a "spiritual mobilization" for the planned war.
The Propaganda Ministry was headed by Joseph Goebbels. His goal was to use his propaganda apparatus to "work the masses until they became slaves to us". The GDR government also used the building as the headquarters of the Ministry of Media Policy.
17. The East-West Axis
The almost four-kilometer-long street Straße des 17. Juni acquired its current width of 85 meters in the course of the concept for the transformation of Berlin into the "World Capital Germania" in 1935. At that time, it was called the East-West Axis.
The youthful Wernher von Braun tested a homemade rocket car here in the 1920s. Shortly before the end and also after the Second World War, the avenue served for a time as an airstrip, whose control point was located at the top of the Victory Column. Until 1989, troop parades of the Allied Western powers were held here.
Tip for a Day Trip: Sachsenhausen Memorial and Museum
To gain a better understanding of the inhuman horror and horrific reality of the Holocaust, we recommend visiting the former Sachsenhausen concentration camp in Oranienburg, about 30 kilometers north of Berlin.
A place of mourning, remembrance, and learning, the Sachsenhausen Memorial provides information about the Sachsenhausen concentration camp, which was established by the Nazis and existed at this site from 1936 to 1945. Thirteen permanent exhibitions, mostly in original buildings, tell the horrific story of the site, which was one of the largest concentration camps on German Reich territory. Admission is free.
Timeline of the Nazi Era in Berlin
- Jan. 30, 1933: The "seizure of power" - Adolf Hitler's ends the Weimar Republic. Reich President Paul von Hindenburg appoints him Reich Chancellor.
- Feb. 27, 1933: The Reichstag burns! The sole perpetration of a left-wing Dutchman seems doubtful. Many suspect the NSDAP behind the arson.
- 20.03.1933: The mandates of all Communist deputies are revoked.
- 21.03.1933: The first concentration camp is opened in Sachsenhausen, just outside Berlin, for the imprisoned opponents of the regime.
- 01.04.1933: First organized boycott actions against Jewish stores, doctors and lawyers.
- 10.05.1933: Books burned "against the un-German spirit" on the square in front of the Old Library (now Bebelplatz).
- 21.06.1933: Start of the "Köpenicker Blutwoche" (Köpenick Blood Week), an arrest, torture and murder campaign by the SA against some 500 opponents of the regime.
- July 1933: The mandates of all Social Democratic deputies are revoked.
- 1934/35: All elected bodies in the city are dissolved. The administration is "brought into line".
- 22.03.1935: The world's first public television program starts in Berlin.
- 01.08.1936: The 11th Summer Olympic Games are held in Berlin. For this time, anti-Jewish posters and inflammatory slogans are not to be seen in the city.
- 1937: The 700th anniversary of the city is celebrated with a big party.
- April 1937: Architect Albert Speer presents Hitler with his first draft for the radical redesign of Berlin as the Reich capital Germania.
- 12.03.1938: With the "homecoming" of Austria into the Reich, Berlin becomes the capital of the "Greater German Reich".
- 09.11.1938: "Reichskristallnacht"! SA and SS men set fire to nine Berlin synagogues, looting and terrorizing. About 1,200 arrested Jewish citizens are deported, mostly to the Sachsenhausen concentration camp.
- 01.09.1939: World War II begins with the declaration of war on Poland.
- August 1940: First bombing raids on Berlin by British air forces.
- 20.01.1942: The "Final Solution of the Jewish Question" is decided at the "Wannsee Conference".
- 31.12.1942: Berlin's population reaches an all-time high of 4,478,102.
- 18.02.1943: Reich Propaganda Minister Joseph Goebbels proclaims the "Total War" in the Berlin Sports Palace.
- Fall 1943: Large-scale area bombing by Anglo-American air forces begins. By the end of the war, 450,000 tons fall on Berlin. The city center is almost completely destroyed. Around 1.5 million inhabitants are left homeless, and more than 50,000 die. Much later, criticism is levelled at the fact that any closer analysis of the fate of the civilian population in this inferno was dispensed with in the reappraisal of these days.
- 20.07.1944: The assassination attempt of Colonel Claus Schenk Graf von Stauffenberg on Adolf Hitler fails.
- 21.04.1945: The Red Army crosses the city border. The "Battle of Berlin" begins.
- 30.04.1945: Hitler commits suicide in his bunker.
- 02.05.1945: The German Wehrmacht ceases all fighting. The war is over for Berlin.
- 08.05.1945: In the casino hall of a Wehrmacht barracks in the Berlin district of Karlshorst, the formal surrender for all of Germany is declared. Berlin's population has dropped from 4.3 to 2.8 million, 600,000 homes are destroyed.