Berlin has such an intriguing history, and exploring the city’s World War II and Cold War history are is one of the biggest reasons tourists come here. You probably don’t have time to see every single sight, so I’ve put together this list of what I think are the best World War II and Cold War sights in Berlin.
Some of the attractions on this list are famous ones that are probably already on your Berlin bucket list. But there are a few you might not know about, ones that are often overlooked but are well worth visiting.
If the city’s history is an important part of your Berlin itinerary, these World War II and Cold War attractions in Berlin are a must.
Tours focusing on World War II and the Cold War
Tours can be a great way to see lots of World War II and Cold War sights in a short amount of time while also hearing about the history from an expert. Here are a few we recommend.
Where to stay in Berlin
Berlin has lots of great neighborhoods for you to stay in and explore. If you’re visiting Berlin for the first time, it might be best for you stay somewhere central.
Many of the attractions are in Mitte or easily connected to Mitte by Berlin’s public transport, so you should stay somewhere in that region. Here are a few hotels we recommend.
For a more detailed look at the different neighborhoods and our hotel recommendations, check out our guide to where to stay in Berlin.
Where to find the best World War II and Cold War sites in Berlin
With so many interesting and historically important sites, it’s hard to choose the best World War II and Cold War sites in Berlin. But this list will get you a good mix of attractions to learn about the history of these time periods.
Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe
The Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe, often referred to as the Holocaust Memorial, honors the large number of Jewish people who died at the hands of the Nazis. This is one of the most important World War II sights in Berlin, and one of the most well known landmarks in Germany.
The memorial consists of 2,711 concrete blocks of varying heights, and the ground they sit on is an uneven slope similar to a wave. It’s supposed to make you feel uneasy.
The information center is inside and showcases letters, diaries, photographs, and biographies of the victims to help personalize the experience.
Entrance is free. The outside section is open 24/7, but check opening times for the information center. Photography is allowed (no flash inside) but please be respectful.
Do not sit on or climb on the cement slabs or take selfies. This is a place to reflect and remember those who were murdered.
Location: Cora-Berliner-Straße 1, 10117 Berlin
It’s worth noting that Jews were not the only group the Nazis tried to extinguish. Not far from the Holocaust Memorial, you can see several other memorials honoring different groups who became victims.
- Memorial to European Sinti and Roma Murdered Under Nazism: Simsonweg, 10117 Berlin
- Memorial to Homosexuals Persecuted Under Nazism: Ebertstraße, 10785 Berlin
- Memorial to the Victims of the Nazi Euthanasia Murders: Tiergartenstraße 4, 10785 Berlin
- Memorial to the Murdered Members of the Reichstag: Scheidemannstraße 5, 10557 Berlin
A small but powerful memorial sits in the middle of Bebelplatz along Unter den Linden. If you don’t look down, you might miss it.
It’s a square glass panel, and when you look down, you’ll see empty shelves. This is a sight that remembers what was lost on May 10, 1933 when the Nazis burned approximately 20,000 books whose stories they didn’t want told.
This is a quick World War II site to see, but it’s an easy stop while exploring Unter den Linden, which is an important sightseeing area that’s probably already on your Berlin itinerary.
Location: Bebelpl. 1, 10117 Berlin
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House of the Wannsee Conference
This luxury villa was the location of the infamous Wannsee Conference in 1942. Nazi government officials met to discuss the so-called “Final Solution to the Jewish Question” here.
Today this location serves as a museum documenting this awful meeting and how their plan was put into action. It’s also a Holocaust memorial where you can learn about the genocide of the Jewish population.
This World War II site is a bit far from the center, so I don’t expect everyone to get there. But it’s a historically important attraction to visit, especially for history buffs.
Location: Am Großen Wannsee 56-58, 14109 Berlin
Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church
This famous Berlin landmark is one of the most important churches in Berlin. The original church was built here in the 1890s, but was damaged in WWII air raids in 1943.
Interestingly, the church was not rebuilt and instead has been left much as it was after World War II. Its been nicknamed by Berliners as Der Hohle Zahn—literally “The Hollow Tooth”.
This church is a stark reminder of the destruction of war and an interesting World War II site in Berlin.
Location: Breitscheidplatz, 10789 Berlin
Topography of Terror
The Topography of Terror Museum sits on the location that was the headquarters of the Gestapo and the SS between 1933 and 1945. This is where persecution and killings of Nazi opponents were organized, and where the genocide of Jews, Roma, and Sinti was coordinated.
This powerful museum now serves as a place to remember history and warn us from repeating the terrors of the past. The exhibits here use photographs and documentation to teach visitors about the crimes that were organized here, and you can view excavation sites through glass windows.
Topography of Terror is definitely one to add to your list of places to see World War II sites in Berlin.
Location: Niederkirchnerstraße 8, 10963 Berlin
The Berlin Jewish Museum tells the stories of Jewish people in Germany from the Middle Ages to present day. The whole museum, inside and out, is designed to be part of the experience of learning about the diverse Jewish culture and the gaps made by the Holocaust.
You can explore three different sections of the museum that teach about different aspects of Jewish life, culture, and history in Germany. The museum uses a lot of symbolism, which makes this creative space more impactful. For example, in one area, uneven ground conveys a feeling of uncertainty.
This is a fantastic museum to visit if you’re interested in the history of the Jewish people in Germany.
Location: Lindenstraße 9-14, 10969 Berlin
Every so often when you’re walking around Berlin, glance down at the sidewalk below you. You might see Stolpersteine, which are small brass squares that serve as mini memorials for victims of the Nazis.
These “stumbling stones” sit in front of the victims’ last known address before they were taken away. Their name, date of birth, date of death if known, and where they were taken are among the details listed on these humble but meaningful memorials.
Though you’ll find more of them in Berlin and the rest of Germany, they do exist in other countries in Europe as well.
>>Check out more fun facts and trivia about Berlin.
The Reichstag Building is the current seat of the German Parliament, and it’s one of the best World War II and the Cold War sites in Berlin.
It was used by the German government until 1933 when a fire greatly damaged the building. Marking the end of the Weimar Republic and the strengthening of the Nazi dictatorship, the building was neglected and suffered more damage during WWII.
After the war, when Berlin was divided into East and West, the Reichstag Building sat in the West just steps from the Berlin Wall. The seat of the German government has moved to Bonn, and though the building was somewhat repaired, it was seldom used.
After reunification, the building was redesigned and restored. It opened in 1999, and the German Parliament returned here once again.
Location: Platz der Republik 1, 11011 Berlin
Sachsenhausen Concentration Camp
One of the more popular day trips from Berlin, the Sachsenhausen Concentration Camp is located just outside the city limits, reachable on public transport with a ticket that includes zone C.
Not only did tens of thousands of people die here, but this concentration camp was the headquarters of the whole concentration camp system. Even after the Nazis were defeated and World War II ended, the Soviets used Sachsenhausen as a camp for their own political enemies, and thousands more died over the next five years.
Though this is a somber site, it’s important to learn about those who suffered and died here.
Entrance is free, but consider taking a guided tour like this one to enrich your experience: Sachsenhausen Memorial Half-Day Tour From Berlin.
Location: Str. d. Nationen 22, 16515 Oranienburg
The Olympic Stadium in Berlin is another World War II site to visit. Built by renowned architect Werner March, this geometric masterpiece can hold up to 100,000 people.
But it has a dark history. During the Nazi regime, the Olympic Stadium was used to host propaganda events.
Today it’s an open-air venue used for concerts and other large events. If you visit the stadium on an event-free day, you can take a tour of the stadium and learn about its role during the Second World War.
Location: Olympischer Platz 3, 14053 Berlin
Berlin Story Bunker
Near Anhalter Bahnhof is the Berlin Story Bunker museum, which is a bunker from World War I, not II. It tells the history of Berlin over 800 years.
One of the most interesting exhibits is about Hitler, how he came to power, why so many voted for him, and other questions and answers about the Nazi regime and the events leading to and during World War II.
If you’ve ever wondered how it all happened, this is an excellent museum to visit.
Location: Schöneberger Str. 23A, 10963 Berlin
Cecilienhof Palace was built from 1914 to 1917 in the style of an English Tudor manor house, and it was the last palace built by the Hohenzollern family. They ruled the Kingdom of Prussia and German Empire until the end of World War I.
This palace is also famous for being the location of the Potsdam conference from July 17 to August 2, 1945, when the Allies met to discuss and decide how to handle post war Europe and Asia. This meeting is seen as the end of World War II and the beginning of the Cold War.
Location: Im Neuen Garten, 14469 Potsdam
German Russian Museum
This museum documents World War II on the eastern front, but its location is also quite significant. The building is where Germany signed their unconditional surrender in front of representatives of Russia, the US, the UK, and France on the night of May 8-9, 1945.
This was the ceremonial recognition of complete defeat and victory over Hilter’s regime. The German Russian Museum isn’t so centrally located, but it’s a significant place to visit for World War II history in Berlin.
Location: Zwieseler Str. 4, 10318 Berlin
Berlin Wall Memorial at Bernauer Strasse
The Berlin Wall is one of the biggest reminders of the Cold War. And the Bernauer Strasse Wall Memorial is one of the best places in Berlin to learn about Berlin Wall history.
This 1.4km (0.87 mile) section of road has one of the last remaining pieces of the Berlin Wall. When the Wall went up, neighbors living on opposite sides of the street were suddenly torn apart as the Wall separated buildings on the East side of the street from those on the West.
This open air memorial shows where the Wall stood, where apartment buildings were on the East, where escape tunnels were dug, and more. Placards describe what it was like living on the eastern side of Bernauer Strasse before and after the Wall went up, how it affected the neighborhood, how people tried to escape, and many other details.
About midway down the street, there’s a building with a tower that allows you to see over the Wall that still stands and into the death strip. At the visitors center, don’t miss the two short films (alternating time slots for German and English) depicting the Wall in the city as well as what it was like out in the countryside.
The East Side Gallery is more famous, but the Bernauer Strasse Wall Memorial is a better place to learn about the Wall and its effects.
Check out our full guide to visiting the Berlin Wall Memorial at Bernauer Strasse.
Location: Bernauer Str. 119, 13355 Berlin
East Side Gallery
The East Side Gallery is the most well known section of the Berlin Wall, and it runs along a stretch of the Spree River. At 1.3km (0.8 mile) this is considered the longest open air gallery in the world.
Shortly after the Berlin Wall fell in 1989, artists from 21 countries came here to paint murals to celebrate Germany being reunited and to remind the world of terrible things that occurred here. Over the years, the art has changed several times, and you can now see art covering current issues the world faces.
There are several sections you’ve undoubtedly seen pictures of, but it’s worth taking your time to admire as much of the East Side Gallery as you have time for. You’ll find lots of other pieces of art that grab you, even if they’re not so famous.
This popular Berlin Cold War attraction is open 24/7 but is best enjoyed during daylight hours. Check out more places to see the Berlin Wall.
Location: Mühlenstraße 3-100, 10243 Berlin
Palace of Tears
The Palace of Tears, or Tränenpalast in German, was used by the DDR dictatorship as a departure point for those leaving the DDR for West Berlin. It was constructed in 1962 and is located at the Friedrichstraße train station.
Here many people were forced by border guards to leave their families and friends as they were denied any access to the border. Today, the exhibits at this Berlin Cold War attraction serve as a reminder of the separation of Germany and all the tears that were shed in connection with it.
Location: Reichstagufer 17, 10117 Berlin
One of the most famous landmarks in Berlin, the TV Tower can be seen from almost anywhere in the city. It’s one of the tallest structures in Germany and the European Union, standing at 368 meters (1,207 feet) tall, and it was inaugurated on October 3, 1969.
This was less than two months after the start of the Berlin Wall. Built by the Soviets, it was meant to represent the strength of communist East Germany, and its presence loomed over residents on both sides of the divide.
Now that the Cold War is over, it is now a symbol of the reunification of Germany and a symbol of Berlin itself.
The Berlin TV Tower is a great spot for 360 degree views of Berlin from the viewing platform at about 200 meters high. There’s also a revolving restaurant on a different level where you can enjoy a nice meal while admiring the views.
It is highly recommended to buy priority tickets online ahead of time to reduce your wait.
Location: Panoramastraße 1A, 10178 Berlin
Die Mauer – The Wall Panorama Museum
A fascinating experience, this museum focuses on the Berlin Wall and what it was like to live in Berlin during the Cold War. It’s an immersive experience that shows you what it was like living near the death strip in the 1980s.
Location: Friedrichstraße 205, 10117 Berlin
Brandenburg Gate is a must on any visitor’s list of things to do in Berlin. Even though it was constructed in the late 1700s, its meaning has transformed over the years, and it has significant Cold War ties.
When Berlin was divided by the Wall during the Cold War, Brandenburg Gate stood in no man’s land, just barely to the East of the border. To many people, it represented the separation of the two sides.
President Reagan gave his famous “Tear down this wall!” speech from the western side of the gate, where people on the eastern side could hear.
Now that Germany has been reunited, the gate represents unity. It is one of the most famous places to see in Berlin, and even in all of Germany.
Location: Pariser Platz, 10117 Berlin
One of Berlin’s largest green spaces is Tempelhofer Feld, a former airport that has been turned into a park. In 1948-1949, the airport was the hub of the Berlin Airlift, which kept West Berlin supplied with goods during the Berlin Blockade.
Even after the Berlin Wall came down and East and West Germany reunited, this airport continued to operate. It wasn’t until 2008 that the airport closed.
In 2010, it reopened as a public park, and the runway and airport building remain. Today you can enjoy walking, running, roller blading, cycling, kite surfing, and more all on a former airport runway.
There are grassy areas where you can have a picnic, gardening areas, fenced dog areas, bird protection areas, and more. This is definitely one of the best parks in Berlin and a significant Cold War sight to see in Berlin.
Location: Platz d. Luftbrücke 5, 12101 Berlin (This is the terminal building, but the park can be accessed from many sides.)
During the Cold War, the area that is now Mauerpark was part of the death zone, which was the area between the Berlin Wall and the East/West border. It was where people trying to escape often got shot, hence the name.
Today it’s one of the city’s favorite parks. On Sundays, the most well known flea market is held here along with karaoke a little outside the flea market area.
There’s even a section of the Wall still standing here, known as the graffiti Wall. Even though it’s considered a monument, the graffiti has been deemed to fit with the spirit of the park, so it is allowed.
Location: Gleimstraße 55, 10437 Berlin
9th of November Platz
One of the lesser known Cold War sights in Berlin, 9th of November Platz is located at a former border crossing in the northern section of the city. There you can find photos and info placards with history about the Wall and the day it came down, the 9th of November 1989.
This is also a great place to see cherry blossoms in Berlin if you happen to be visiting Berlin in spring. A handful are along the road at 9th of November Platz, and a bunch more are down the stairway in the park that runs parallel to the Sbahn tracks.
Location: Bornholmer Str. 61, 10439 Berlin
The Stasi were the secret police in East Germany. They carried out the communist idea of control and played a big part in East German life.
The Stasi Museum is a must see Cold War attraction in Berlin to learn about the history of the Stasi and the extent of their control on every day life. The museum is also located at the original headquarters of the Stasi.
It’s also one of the best cheap things to do in Berlin.
Location: Normannenstraße 20/Haus 1, 10365 Berlin
Berlin Wall markers
This isn’t one you need to go out of your way for, but as you’re walking around Berlin, you might notice markers on the ground. Though the Wall is gone, you can now see small plaques indicating where the Berlin Wall once stood dividing East from West.
They’re all along the former border, but a few notable places near popular attractions include near Brandenburg Gate, near Mauerpark and the Wall Memorial at Bernauer Strasse, and near Topography of Terror.
There’s also a trail for hikers and cyclists all along the former border called the Mauerweg. You can follow the markers through the center of the city, but the trail continues out in the countryside.
Location: All along the former border
Checkpoint Charlie was once an important border crossing point between East and West Berlin. Though there were several crossings, this one is the most well known.
Today it’s a simple tourist attraction, a small hut in the middle of the road. Fake guards stood here for photo ops until recently, but they aren’t allowed to be there anymore.
While it’s definitely one of the most popular Cold War attractions in Berlin, it’s kind of cheesy. If you’re taking the time to see it, at least make sure you visit the nearby Checkpoint Charlie Wall Museum to learn more about the history.
Location: Friedrichstraße 43-45, 10117 Berlin
During the Cold War, the East and West had different crosswalk signals, and since the Wall came down, the Ampelmann from the East has become quite iconic. Items with the red and green Ampelmann on things like t-shirts, key chains, magnets, bags, and more now make for fun souvenirs from Berlin.
Although you will see many more of the DDR style crosswalk signals when you’re in the former East, they do exist on the West. So despite what you might read in other places, the crosswalk signal is not a good way to determine which side of the line you’re standing on.
Location: At an intersection near you in Berlin
Invalidenfriedhof: Section of the Berlin Wall
As the Wall was built, a lot of buildings and other places were displaced to make room for sections of the Wall, watch towers, and more. This cemetery, the Invalidenfriedhof, was an unfortunate victim.
More than 90% of the graves were moved to make room for watch towers, the death strip, and other things deemed necessary for patrolling the border. Today a section of the Berlin Wall and a section of the patrol road still remain as a reminder of its past.
There are some signs in German and a few in both German and English, but it’s a pleasant place to visit even without being able to understand all the signs. It’s right near one of the canals, and overall it feels very peaceful.
If you’re interested in seeing pieces of the Berlin Wall that aren’t so crowded with tourists, this is a good one to visit, and it’s not too far from the center of town.
Location: Scharnhorststraße 31, 10115 Berlin
Berlin World War II and Cold War tours
Consider taking a tour to see lots of World War II and Cold War sights in a short amount of time while also hearing about the history from an expert. Here are a few we recommend.
- Berlin Small Group Third Reich and Cold War Walking Tour
- Small Group East Berlin Walking Tour
- Third Reich Berlin Walking Tour – Hitler and WWII
- Sachsenhausen Memorial Half-Day Tour From Berlin
- 75 Minute Trabi Safari Tour
Berlin Travel Resources
I want you to have the best trip to Berlin, and hopefully this list of the best World War II and Cold War sites in Berlin is helpful. But there are lots more tips on the site!
- 101 Best Things to do in Berlin
- 23 Impressive Castles in Berlin (And Nearby)
- 27 Best World War II & Cold War Sights in Berlin
- 29 Fun Day Trips From Berlin
- 75 Things to Know Before Visiting Berlin: Essential Berlin Travel Tips
- What to Wear & What to Pack for Berlin, Germany: Your Ultimate Berlin Packing List
- How to Get Around in Berlin: An Easy Guide to Berlin Public Transportation