Berlin’s turbulent modern
history means it has more 20th-century monuments and memorials than most
cities. While many are open to the public – including World War II
bunkers, former concentration camps and various buildings connected to
the former East Berlin surveillance apparatus – others are normally
But from 7 to 8 September, a Europe-wide initiative called the Tag des offenen Denkmals
(Day of Open Monuments) is opening many of these sites to the public,
including several from the Nazi and GDR (former East Berlin) era, as
well as some controversial buildings that have polarised the city’s
inhabitants. Visitors will have access to GDR relics such as
Alexnderplatz’s squat, boxy Kongresshalle (used as a conference centre) and the tall, rectangular Haus des Lehrers (House of Teachers), an office building that still features a detailed communist mosaic by Walter Womacka.
aim of the project, which is taking place in cities across the
continent, is to sensitise people to the meaning of cultural heritage
and interest them in the preservation of ancient monuments. The theme
this year is: "Far away from Good and Beautiful: Uncomfortable
For WWII fans, the Olympiagelände (the former Olympic stadium area where Hitler held his infamous 1939 Olympics) and the associated Langemarckhalle
(which contains 12 pillars bearing the 76 flags of the regiments that
took part in World War I) will likely be a draw, as will newly opened
spaces such as an air raid shelter on Stralauer Straße and a
little-known forced-labour camp site next to the city’s biggest and
newest park, Tempelhofer Feld.
Those interested in the Berlin Wall era will be fascinated by both the former Stasi Prison
in Hohenschönhausen, which details how inmates were psychologically
intimidated and physically abused, and by the abandoned former Allied
listening station at Teufelsberg, a long-time Mecca for urban explorers that is usually only accessible via paid tours.
to all memorials and monuments, some of which are staffed with expert
guides, is free. You can find a full list of buildings on the official website, as well as details on how to register for the more popular tours and sites.