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Berlin, Memorials, and Memories of Hitler (2:58)

Berlin, Germany

Intentionally, Berlin has no consequential Hitler-was-here sites. Instead, museums (such as the Topography of Terror) and memorials (including the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe) tell the story of the war and commemorate the horrific loss.

Complete Video Script

Berlin is dotted with memorials and reminders of its troubled 20th-century history.

For a man with such megalomaniac ambitions, it’s striking how little survives of the world Hitler created. The former headquarters of the Nazi air force, or Luftwaffe, now houses the German Finance Ministry. It’s the only major Hitler-era building that — somehow — survived the war’s bombs. Notice how the Fascist architecture is monumental, making the average person feel small and powerless.

Just down the street, an exhibition called The Topography of Terror is built upon the bombed out remains of the notorious SS and Gestapo buildings. This spot, once the most feared address in Berlin, documents the methods and evils of the Nazi regime.
Nearby is a sight with nothing to see: a parking lot — vacant…yet thought-provoking. It’s the site of Hitler’s vast underground bunker. In early 1945, as Allied armies advanced on Berlin and Nazi Germany lay in ruins, Hitler and his inner circle retreated here.

It was right here, deep in his underground bunker, that Hitler committed suicide…on April 30, 1945. A week later, the war in Europe was over.

In their attempt to exterminate the Jewish race, the Nazis killed six million Jews. Berlin’s Holocaust memorial is a touching and evocative field of gravestone-like pillars. Called the “Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe,” it was the first formal, German government-sponsored Holocaust memorial.

When Germany called this a memorial to the “murdered” Jews it was a big step. They admitted to a crime. They did it. The design of this memorial has no explicit meaning. It’s hoped that each visitor will find their own.

There’s no central gathering point; it’s for individuals, like death. Once you enter the memorial, people seem to appear and then disappear. Is it a labyrinth? A symbolic cemetery? Intentionally disorienting? It’s entirely up to you to derive the meaning, while pondering this horrible chapter in human history.

A couple blocks away, is another poignant memorial. Marking the Tombs of -he Unknown Soldier and the Unknown Concentration Camp Victim, it’s dedicated to all victims of war and tyranny. The statue of a pietà, Mother with her Dead Son, is by Käthe Kollwitz, a Berlin artist who lived through both World Wars.