Topography of Terror: construction finally started, again

15 11 2007

Some two weeks ago, the German government finally announced the beginning of the construction of an exhibition center at the site which used to house once the Gestapo, SS and Reich Security Offices in Berlin (located on the Prinz Albrecht Terrain at Niederkirchnerstrasse 8), to complete the memorial known as the “Topography of Terror”.

The new center, which will be a glass and metal structure designed by the German architect Ursula Wilms, is supposed to open on May 8, 2010, the 65th anniversary of Nazi Germany’s final surrender.

Nowadays, the site contains an open-air exhibition in what remained of the Gestapo’s cellars – a very impressive exhibition about the Gestapo’s workings, the people who were imprisoned there, and the Nazi system of courts.

Topography of Terror open air exhibition.

When we went to see it in 2005, we had a very positive, not to say, corrective, experience, since in the building right across the “Topography of Terror” there was an exhibition of new Hebrew art. A little “Hitler rolling in his non existent grave” kind of experience. I cherish those…

Nazi Headquarters and Israeli exhibition.

The story of the “Topography of Terror” is an interesting story about the politics of memory (one of my main interests in life). In short, it began with private citizens and grassroots organization, wishing to preserve and create a monument in the site. After the authorities got involved, the project got stuck in the mud of bureaucracy and politics for nearly two decades.

The decision to build a documentation and visitors’ center was made in 1992. In 1993, the Swiss architect Peter Zumthor won the competition to design the center, but financial and engineering problems led to the suspension of the work in 1999. In 2004 the federal and state governments agreed to end the Zumthor project, and on 2005, a new architectural competition took place.

The planned center designed by Wilms will include a library with some 20,000 books and documents, and also seminar rooms.

This is the site of the Topography of Terror Foundation.

And here are two interesting articles about the subject, in the Spiegel magazine and in dw-world.

U6 Kochstrasse, or U2, Potsdamer Platz. S1, S2, S25 Anhalter Bahnhof or Potsdamer Platz.

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