Between 1933 and 1945, the central institutions of Nazi persecution and terror – the Secret State Police Office with its own “house prison,” the leadership of the SS and, during the Second World War, the Reich Security Main Office – were located on the present-day grounds of the “Topography of Terror” that are next to the Martin Gropius Building and close to Potsdamer Platz.
In Normannenstraße, to the east of Berlin city centre, you'll find the Stasi Museum, formerly home of the Ministry of State Security. In this building you can discover how the Stasi operates and take a look at their original technology such as bugs, hidden cameras and weapons. The main attraction is the office of Erich Mielke, Minister of State Security and head of the Stasi from 1957 to the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989. The second floor of the building remains untouched since the days of the Stasi, complete with desks, chairs and filing cabinets.
It’s a strange feeling to come into a dark, half-blasted bunker, see parts of stairways and cables hanging out of the wall and walk through rubble in between holes that go several meters down into the ground. It’s eye-opening to crouch down in an air raid bunker and experience how it must have felt when the situation was for real. These are just a couple of examples of the unique experiences offered at Berliner Unterwelten (Subterranean Berlin).
Since opening its doors in 2001, the Jewish Museums Berlin has joined the ranks of Europe’s leading museums. Its exhibitions and permanent collection, educational activities, and diverse program of events make the museum a vibrant center of reflection on Jewish history and culture as well as about migration and diversity in Germany.
The monument to the Soviet soldier in Berlin’s Treptower Park is, probably, the most well-known Soviet war memorial outside Russia. The 12-meter high soldier, standing on the remains of a broken swastika, holds a little girl he has saved (such cases really took place) in one hand and a sword in the other. According to the first plan of the sculptor Evgeny Vuchetich, he was due to hold a machine gun, but Stalin suggested a sword instead.
Checkpoint Charlie (or "Checkpoint C") was the name given by the Western Allies to the best-known Berlin Wall crossing point between East Berlin and West Berlin during the Cold War (1947–1991). Located on the corner of Friedrichstraße and Zimmerstraße, it is a reminder of the former border crossing, the Cold War and the partition of Berlin. The barrier and checkpoint booth, the flag and the sandbags are all based on the original site – and are a popular subject for photos. It’s no wonder that Checkpoint Charlie is one of the sights of Berlin that you really should see.
The Bebelplatz (formerly colloquially Opernplatz) is a public square in the central Mitte district of Berlin, the capital of Germany. The square is located on the south side of the Unter den Linden boulevard, a major east-west thoroughfare in the city centre. Don’t miss Micha Ullman’s spatial installation: a library with empty shelves commemorates the book-burning at Bebelplatz. While strolling across Bebelplatz you'll come across people staring at the same spot on the ground. When you get closer, you see a glass plate set in the paving stones, and below it an underground room with empty bookshelves.
The East Side Gallery is one of Berlin’s most historic landmarks that has also been turned into an artistic landmark. The gallery is located on Muehlenstrasse and is accessible from both Warschauer Strasse and Ostbanhoff. The 1.3 kilometer part of the Berlin Wall is the longest part that is still largely intact. The East Side Gallery is visited at all times of the day and night by visitors, locals, and people spilling out of the nearby clubs, such as Berghain or Watergate. Across the road sits Berlin’s largest arena, the Mercedes Benz Arena, which is used for many events in the city ranging from ice hockey to sold out concerts.
A place of contemplation, a place of remembrance and warning. Close to the Brandenburg Gate in the heart of Berlin, you will find the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe. In 1999, after lengthy debates, the German parliament decided to establish a central memorial site, the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe. The competition to design it was won by the New York architect Peter Eisenman. The memorial was ceremonially opened in 2005.