Third Reich Walking Tour (Self Guided), Berlin

The "Third Reich" and "Nazi Germany" are the common English names for Germany between 1933 and 1945, when it was a totalitarian state led by Adolf Hitler and the National Socialist German Workers' Party. Take this self-guided tour to get more familiar with the unparalleled history of the most destructive figure and regime of the 20th Century – Hitler and the Third Reich, respectively.
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Third Reich Walking Tour Map

Guide Name: Third Reich Walking Tour
Guide Location: Germany » Berlin (See other walking tours in Berlin)
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Sightseeing)
# of Attractions: 6
Tour Duration: 1 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.1 Km or 1.3 Miles
Author: clare
Sight(s) Featured in This Guide:
  • Reichstag Building
  • Holocaust Memorial
  • Hitler's Bunker (Fuhrerbunker)
  • Goebbels' Propaganda Ministry
  • Goering's Air Force Headquarters
  • Topography of Terror Museum
1
Reichstag Building

1) Reichstag Building (must see)

The historic Reichstag building is the seat of the German parliament (Bundestag) in Berlin, and has been in place since 1894. In 1933, the building was severely damaged by fire, allegedly set by Dutch communist Marinus van der Lubbe, and after World War II fell into disuse as the parliament of the newly-emerged German Democratic Republic met in the Palace of the Republic in East Berlin, while the parliament of the Federal Republic of Germany met in the Bundeshaus in Bonn. To mark the reunification of Germany in 1990, the Reichstag hosted a ceremony, on October 3, attended by Chancellor Helmut Kohl, President Richard von Weizsäcker, former Chancellor Willy Brandt and many other dignitaries. A day later, in an act of symbolism, the legislature of unified Germany assembled here for the first time.

One of the Reichstag's most distinctive features is the large glass dome, topping the building. Walking around this glass "egg" and ramping it up and down is an extraordinary experience. Apart from the breathtaking 360-degree panorama of the surrounding Berlin-scape, it also provides view of the working parliament down below. Another cool thing is that you can book a restaurant at the top of the Reichstag for lunch, which is a fabulous way to end your visit here with a nice, multi-course with wine. Well worth doing and highly recommended, if you can swing it!

Why You Should Visit:
Free attraction providing some pretty unique views across Berlin.
The lift takes you up to the top floor where you can pick up audio guides and freely wander around the dome and take photos.

Tip:
Don't forget to book in advance at the information desk or via the website, and have a valid ID (passport) for entry. The place is free to enter, but because of the tight security, waiting queues can be long, especially in summer.
If you make a reservation in the Käfer Roofgarden at the very top, you don't have to stand in line (note: the Käfer is in the pricey category).
Also, don't forget to wrap up, as all the glass "windows" are actually open and it may get pretty chilly up there.

Opening Hours:
Daily: 8am-12am
Sight description based on wikipedia
2
Holocaust Memorial

2) Holocaust Memorial (must see)

The Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe, also known as the Holocaust Memorial, commemorating the Jews and other victims of the Holocaust, was opened to the public on May 12, 2005. It was designed by architect Peter Eisenman and consists of 2,711 concrete slabs (stelae), one for each page of the Talmud arranged in a grid pattern that resembles a graveyard that you can walk through in any direction. Due to the undulations of the site, at times you can see over the blocks and at times you can't, and it is unclear whether the differing heights of the stones are important or just accidental.

The stelae are designed to produce an uneasy, confusing atmosphere, and the whole complex aims to represent a supposedly ordered system that has lost touch with human reason. It is quite simple and convincing, much as it is impressive and, as you wander the paths between the blocks, the power of the memorial hits you. An attached underground "Place of Information" holds the names of all known Jewish Holocaust victims, obtained from the Israeli museum Yad Vashem.

The memorial leaves you thinking of those who died and stirs the emotions. A place for thought and contemplation, but also to remind of the tremendous suffering, the lives lost, and the families destroyed by hatred and power. It does a perfect job reinforcing why those atrocities should never be allowed to happen again. This is NOT a photo opportunity but an urge to never forget. Definitely worth seeing. Impressive yet so sad.

Tip:
Designed for everyone to interpret the work of art for themselves. Visit with an open mind, with respect for all those that have gone, and make of it what you will.
After walking outside around the monuments, make your way downstairs to the free exhibit (€3 for an audio guide). It takes about 45 minutes to walk through, starting with the history of the Holocaust, then displaying some snippets of letters and journal entries by those taken to concentration camps.

Opening Hours:
Tue-Sun: 10am-8pm
Sight description based on wikipedia
3
Hitler's Bunker (Fuhrerbunker)

3) Hitler's Bunker (Fuhrerbunker)

A complex of reinforced concrete cells formerly located beneath the garden of the New Reich Chancellery in Berlin, the Führerbunker (literally meaning "shelter/bunker [for the] leader/Führer), became the center of the Nazi regime until the last week of World War II in Europe. Having taken up residence in the shelter on 16 January 1945, Hitler celebrated his 56th birthday on April 20 and married Eva Braun 9 there days later, before they both committed suicide on April 30: he with a revolver, she by poison. Their bodies were allegedly taken to the Chancellery courtyard and doused with 200 liters of petrol; Hitler's followers gave the Nazi salute as the corpses burned to ashes. With the Soviets raising the red flag on the Reichstag's rooftop, almost all the rest of the 800 or so bunker occupants decided to try and break out through railway tunnels towards northern Berlin; about 100 made it – the rest were either killed or captured.

After the war, both the old and new Chancellery buildings were leveled by the Soviets. Despite some attempts at demolition, the underground complex remained largely undisturbed until 1988–89, when excavated sections of the complex were uncovered (and mostly destroyed) by work crews during the area's reconstruction as a residential neighborhood. The site of the Führerbunker remained unmarked until 2006 when a small plaque was installed with detailed information, including a schematic diagram. The bunker's emergency exit point (which had been in the Chancellery gardens) was occupied by a car park.
4
Goebbels' Propaganda Ministry

4) Goebbels' Propaganda Ministry

Shortly after Hitler's appointment as Reich Chancellor of Germany in January 1933, the propaganda head of the Nazi party, Joseph Goebbels was rewarded for his part in bringing the Nazis to power by being appointed Reich Minister of Public Enlightenment and Propaganda ("Volksaufklärung und Propaganda"), with a seat in the Cabinet. The role of the new ministry, which took over palatial accommodation in the 18th-century Leopold Palace on Wilhelmstrasse, just across from Hitler's offices in the Reich Chancellery, was to centralize Nazi control of all aspects of German cultural and intellectual life, news media, literature, visual arts, filmmaking, theatre, music, and broadcasting. An unstated goal was to present to other nations the impression that the Nazi Party had the full and enthusiastic backing of the entire population.

A major focus of the propaganda was Hitler himself, who was glorified as a heroic and infallible leader and became the focus of a cult of personality. Much of this was spontaneous, but some was stage-managed as part of Goebbels' propaganda work. An example of the latter would be the 1934 Nuremberg Rally – effectively, the first produced-for-camera event wherein Hitler's moves were carefully choreographed. The rally was the subject of the film "Triumph of the Will", one of several Nazi propaganda films directed by Leni Riefenstahl.

With nationalist socialist architecture expressed in the building's structure and façade design, the Propaganda Ministry grew steadily from 5 departments and 350 employees in 1933 to 17 departments and 2,000 employees by 1939. WWII was conducted with a much greater level of propaganda than WWI, especially in the new media of film, newsreels and radio broadcasting. Because of practical experience and scientific occupation in Europe and the USA, propaganda was organized in a planned fashion. A new psychological warfare was born.
5
Goering's Air Force Headquarters

5) Goering's Air Force Headquarters

Hermann Goering's air force headquarters, formerly known as the Reichsluftfahrtministerium ("Ministry of Aviation"), was the largest office building in Europe at the time of its construction, described as "in the typical style of National Socialist intimidation architecture" by one writer.

With its seven storeys and total floor area of 112,000 sq m (1,210,000 sq ft), 2,800 rooms, 7 km (4.3 mi) of corridors, over 4,000 windows, 17 stairways, and with the stone coming from no fewer than 50 quarries, the vast building served the growing bureaucracy of the Luftwaffe, plus Germany's civil aviation authority which was also located there. Yet it took only 18 months to build, the army of laborers working double shifts and Sundays (the first 1,000 rooms were handed over in October 1935 after just eight months' construction). When finally completed, 4,000 bureaucrats and their secretaries were employed within its walls.

The building was one of the few in central Berlin to escape serious damage during the Allied bombing offensive in 1944-45. After the war, it was used by the Soviet military administration until 1948, and from 1947-49 by the German Economic Commission, which became the top administrative body in the Soviet Occupation Zone.

In 1950-52 an extraordinary 18 m (59 ft) long mural was created at the north end along Leipziger Straße, set back behind pillars, made out of Meissen porcelain tiles. Created by the German painter and commercial artist Max Lingner together with 14 artisans, it depicts the Socialist ideal of contented East Germans facing a bright future as one big happy family.

From 1991–95, after German reunification, it housed the Treuhand (Trust Establishment), which privatized former enterprises operated by the East German government. Its first chairman was Detlev Rohwedder, who was murdered by Red Army Faction terrorists on 1 April 1991, after which the building was renamed the Detlev-Rohwedder-Haus in his honor. From 1990 the Berlin branch office of the German Finance Ministry was also located here, and since 1999, following a vast refurbishment, the building has served as the Ministry's headquarters.
Sight description based on wikipedia
6
Topography of Terror Museum

6) Topography of Terror Museum (must see)

Charting the history of persecution in Germany and the rise of the Nazi/SS organizations, Topography of Terror is a chilling memorial for one of the cruelest interrogation agencies since the Inquisition. Although the buildings that housed the Gestapo and SS headquarters were largely destroyed by Allied bombing during early 1945 and the ruins demolished after the war, the outer wall here survived and is used for an outdoor chronological display of photos and documents, adjacent to the excavated basement of a Third Reich-era Gestapo headquarters.

A must-see for all who want to learn about the dark history of the Nazi party, the indoor museum is tastefully presented in a bright modern building, which includes a café and free restrooms. While it is indeed quite difficult/overwhelming to digest everything, the information is presented very clearly and in a factual way, split into different themes, covering different countries and groups of people. The curation excels with an excellent mix of photos, letters, documents and audiovisual materials which, put together, tell a very difficult story in a sensitive but unflinching way. After leaving coats and bags in the lockers, be sure to take the excellent self-guided audio tour.

Tip:
For the memorial/storyboard outside, start from the left and if going in wintertime make sure to wrap up as it can get cold.
Consider taking the free English tour at 3:30pm on Sundays for a quicker overview without going through every panel.

Opening Hours:
Daily: 10am-8pm; free admission

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