My Weekend in Berlin - Part 2.2: Sightseeing

Autumn Larsen
Autumn Larsen
June 16, 2024

In my last blog post, I shared some of the places my friend and I visited while we were in Berlin and talked about two of them in detail (the Brandenburg Gate and the Berlin Wall Memorial). This post will discuss two more of the places we visited, namely the Topography of Terror and the Victory column.

The full list of places we visited are listed below, in the order of our original itinerary:

Day 1:

  • Brandenburg Gate
  • Topography of Terror
  • Gendarmenmarkt
  • Martin-Gropius-Bau

Day 2:

  • Charlottenburg Palace
  • Berlin Zoological Garden
  • Victory Column

Day 3:

  • DDR (Deutsche Demokratische Republik) Museum
  • Humboldt Forum
  • Berlin Wall Memorial

Topography of Terror (Topographie des Terrors)

The Topography of Terror is a history museum on the former grounds of the SS Reich Security Main Office, the headquarters of the Nazi government’s security and secret police forces (the Sicherheitspolizei and Gestapo), their intelligence agency (the Sicherheitsdienst), and their paramilitary death squad (the Einsatzgruppen).

This museum has both an indoor and an outdoor exhibit, the latter of which can be visited anytime. Although the exhibits may seem not that large, they are incredibly detailed and informative. They mostly consist of signs accompanied by pictures, and go in chronological order, starting with the rise of Hitler and the Nazi regime (and their widespread public acceptance), and ending with details about the kinds of people victimized by the Nazi regime, including Jewish, disabled, queer/LGBTQ+, and Romani and Sinti peoples.

This museum is a must-see, as it is incredibly insightful into how the Nazis came to power and gained such strong public approval. However, the exhibits can be exhausting, if only due to the immense amounts of information you are taking in. About midway through the indoor exhibit, my friend and I had resorted to just reading the bolded text and large quotations, partially because we were on a schedule, and partially because we had already taken in so much information from the first half of the exhibit.

This museum is definitely worth checking out, and an audio guide is also available to listen to. I would suggest listening to it beforehand or downloading it, because our internet connection was not optimal in the museum.

Victory Column (Siegessäule)

One could compare the Victory Column in Berlin to the Statue of Liberty in New York City; although perhaps not as iconic, the Victory Column is a similarly striking landmark in the city, and visitors can pay to sightsee from the top of the structure. It features a golden goddess of victory (or “Goldelse,” as she is known to Berliners), and was in fact set to be entirely demolished after Germany’s defeat in the Second World War, since it was seen as a sign of nationalism. Since the column sits in the middle of a large roundabout, there are underground tunnels that take you from the sidewalk to the column itself. It’s actually at the gates of these tunnels that you can learn more about the history of the Siegessäule, so I recommend visiting all four entrances to the tunnels.

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Autumn Larsen

Autumn Larsen

My name is Autumn Larsen, and I am an Environmental Studies major and German Studies minor at Mount Holyoke College, but in Spring 2024 I am studying abroad in Freiburg, Germany in the ES and Sustainability program! 

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