Topographie de la terreur

Topography of terror

The Topography of Terror is a museum, or as it can also be called in German, one of the many Erinnerungsorten (“places of memory” or memorial) that exist in Berlin and that document and show the horrors committed by the Nazis, showing current and future generations everything that happened and not letting these crimes and atrocities fall into oblivion.

The Topography of Terror is located in the place where, during the Nazi regime, the headquarters of the secret police (known as the Gestapo) was located, including the cells, the SS (Schutzstaffel in German or “Protection Squad”, a paramilitary unit of the Nazis that had absurd power and was responsible for many atrocities committed during the regime) and other institutions that were part of the Nazi terror apparatus. It was in this place that the crimes committed by the Nazis were planned and managed.

History of the museum

The buildings housing these Nazi repressive institutions were practically destroyed by bombing during the war and their ruins were demolished after the war. With the division of the city into sectors, the border between the American and Soviet sectors was located exactly along this street where these buildings were located. This section of the wall still exists and is actually one of the longest remaining sections.

For many years, the site – which is located on the West Berlin side – was used for commercial purposes and it was only in 1987, as part of the celebrations of the 750th anniversary of Berlin, that the exhibition entitled “Topography of Terror” was opened to the public.

The location of the Topography of Terror is a large plot of land that was not built until 2007, and the exhibition was open to the public. It was only at the end of 2007 that the construction work on the documentation center began, and it was inaugurated in 2010.


There is usually an open-air exhibition – the most frequent is entitled “Berlin 1933-1945. Between propaganda and terror” and runs parallel to the remaining section of the Berlin Wall. There are panels with texts, photos, documents, newspaper articles, audios, arranged along the remains of the walls that were excavated from the basement of the Gestapo building.

This exhibition chronologically tells the story of the Nazi regime, from its coming to power in 1933 until its defeat. The exhibition presents the political scenario of the time that brought Hitler to power, the policy and propaganda strategies of the regime, the progressive actions of persecution of Jews that culminated in mass extermination, the names of the main authorities involved in the persecution of Jews, as well as the persecution of other minorities.

The exhibition also shows Berlin during the war, the arrival of the Allied troops, the defeat of Germany, as well as the post-war period and the consequences for the city and the population, the destruction, the lack of infrastructure then the division of the city and the other consequences generated by it.

The documentation center houses the exhibition “Topography of Terror: the headquarters of the Gestapo, the SS and the security of the Empire in Wilhelmstraße and Prinz-Albrecht-Straße”. The exhibition is focused on the actions of the secret police and the SS under the Nazi regime, as well as on the crimes and atrocities that they committed not only in Germany, but also throughout Europe.

Numerous panels containing historical information and photos show the arrival of the Nazis to power, the creation of these organizations, their growth and the leaders who commanded them, the expansion of the Nazis throughout Europe and the traces of terror and suffering left by these people.

There are stations with computers, there are also audios with original recordings, for example, speeches by the authorities of these Nazi institutions. The texts of the exhibitions are available in German and English.

Topography of Terror is a very interesting place to visit, the exhibitions are very enriching, they show us and teach us in detail this sad chapter of recent history. It is very close to other famous attractions like Checkpoint Charlie and Potsdamer Platz and there is also a section of the Berlin Wall for those who want to see it and take a photo. Admission is free.

How to get there

The Topography of Terror is open every day from 10:00 to 20:00, the outdoor areas until nightfall (but no later than 20:00), which in winter can happen much earlier. On December 24th and 31st and January 1st, the place is closed.

Price: Free

Address: Niederkirchnerstrasse 8, 10963 Berlin

U-Bahn: Line U6, Kochstrasse station; Line U2, Potsdamer Platz station
S-Bahn: Lines S1, S2 and S25, Potsdamer Platz station or Anhalter Bahnhof station.
Bus: Line M29, stop Wilhelmstr./Kochstr. ; Line M41, stop Abgeordnetenhaus