The Historic Site
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.
After the war the grounds were leveled and initially used for commercial purposes. Later, in 1987, as part of Berlin’s 750th anniversary celebration, the terrain was made accessible to the public under the name “Topography of Terror.” An exhibition hall and the exposed building remains on the former Prinz-Albrecht-Straße (today’s Niederkirchnerstraße) and Wilhelmstraße were used to document the history of the site.
Two competitions addressing how to deal with the historic site failed. In 2006, the third competition for the construction of a documentation center and redesign of the grounds of the “Topography of Terror” was won by the Berlin architect Ursula Wilms (Heinle, Wischer and Partner) and the landscape architect Professor Heinz W. Hallmann (Aachen). The new documentation center opened on May 7, 2010.
As the “site of the perpetrators,” the “Topography of Terror” fulfills a special role among the many remembrance sites, monuments and museums in Berlin today that commemorate the era of National Socialism. Located in the center of the capital, it provides information at an authentic site about the headquarters of the National Socialist SS and police state and reveals the European dimensions of the Nazi reign of terror.