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WW II sites in Germany

We are spending a couple weeks in Germany and would like to visit the most interesting and historic sites from WWII. Any suggestions?

Posted by
12040 posts

" evidence remaining" of the war." The secondary evidence is everywhere (entire cities completely rebuilt, banning of far right political parties, monuments to the victims of fascism, general pacifism of the population, etc.). But if you're looking for the sort of unaltered remains of battlefields, like Point du Hoc, there is VERY little direct remains of the entire Nazi period. The other posters mentioned some of the few remnants that still exist. A handfull of buildings built during Hitler's reign still stand, but most were destroyed and not rebuilt. In addition to what the other posters mentioned, here's a few more remains of which I am aware (there may be more): Templehof airport, the Air Ministry building in Berlin, flack towers in Berlin, Hamburg, and Vienna, Ordensburg Vogelsang (military retreat in the Eifel mountains), Berlin's Olympic Stadium, the Gestapo HQ in Munich, the Thingplatz in Heidelberg, and a number of structures occupied by the German and US armed forces.

Posted by
9046 posts

Here might be the website you are looking for.
http://www.thirdreichruins.com/ The problem with nazi left-overs is that they shouldn't be glorified, so the Germans are not going to draw attention to them. I can show you sites in Frankurt like the Gestapo jail, or a nazi eagle sculpture on an apt. building, but these things won't be in guidebooks. Old bombing bunkers are scattered through-out the city, Army kasernes were taken over by the Americans, and are now mainly apts or have been torn down. The huge military war hospital that was built in Frankfurt is now the American Consulate. The I.G. Farben building (Auschwitz was their labor camp) became headquarters for the American Army and contained Eisenhowers office, but is now the Goethe University. Right outside of Frankfurt was a former P.O.W. camp, which the Americans then turned into an interogation camp called Camp King. There are still buildings there from this time period, but no one goes there. I could show you the Adler Werk, where 1000's of slave laborers toiled away making light tanks and then their mass grave in the Frankfurt cemetery. My guess is that you will find similar sites in every city in Germany, but you need someone who knows the city as this information isn't publicized. You also will not find war memorials here very often, especially not to the German soldiers. Smaller towns may have them, but they will be very plain affairs, perhaps just a list of the names in the foyer of the village church, or one block in the graveyard. One item that got to me was seeing the rows and rows of gravestones in the cemetery here where everyone died on the same day. That is what happens when a city gets bombed. I am sure the same thing can be found in London, Coventry or Rotterdam.

Posted by
2400 posts

I am not sure if there are any left, but how about a POW camp? Anyone know if any are still around?

Posted by
10344 posts

Note for those trying to answer the OP's question: I rec'd a PM from the original poster in which she helpfully clarified she's looking for WW2 sites in Germany with " evidence remaining" of the war. And she mentioned she's already been to Koln and Dachau. I guess this could raise the philosophical question of whether the evidence is really ever removed? When 10% of a country is killed in a war and most of its cities incinerated, does rebuilding, either as a replica or modern, ever really remove the evidence? My sense is that the evidence is all around you in Germany, but in the rebuilt cities the traveler just has to look harder for it. Which may be what James was getting at: Berlin as one big historic site.

Posted by
14580 posts

Sara, Depending on your desire to cover WWII sites is, there are horrendous sites, aside from those mentioned above, such as the camps Buchenwald, which you get to from Weimar, a bus from the Goetheplatz, and Belsen, from Celle. I absolutely agree that Berlin is the place that should not be missed or where you could start...see the Resistance Museum, (famous Bendler block) on Stauffenberg Straße, very poignant; the museum and site where the Germans signed the surrender to the Russians at Berlin-Karlshorst, (take the S-Bahn). If you want to see the military sites, then I recommend Seelow Höhen (Seelow Heights), where the battle for Berlin began...went there in 2009, the place and museum, when you read all of it is poignant, and also the OKH site in Wünsdorf, a bit south of Berlin. Check also (if you are traveling by car too) the small towns...the war cemeteries (Soldatenfriedhöfe)

Posted by
19 posts

Thanks Fred,
We have been to Buchenwald and Belsen and will take them there. Also the Resistance Museum. Also have been to Wannsee and Sachsenhausen and will go there also. Have not been to Seelow Höhen or Wünsdorf.

Posted by
12040 posts

"You also will not find war memorials here very often, especially not to the German soldiers. Smaller towns may have them, but they will be very plain affairs, perhaps just a list of the names in the foyer of the village church, or one block in the graveyard." I've seen a total of two. One in the town park in Lampertheim, and one outside the church in Oberstdorf. Both are very solemn. The Waldfriedhof (forest cemetery) in my village is almost half-filled with graves from the 1940s. War sucks.

Posted by
1035 posts

The OP asked via for more Nurnberg info on PM. Check out this website: http://www.thirdreichruins.com/nuernberg2.htm There is a ton of relatively intact ruins to see at the Nazi Rallying grounds. Spooky stuff that although isn't WWII battle related does trace National Socialism really well. I am surprised the West German government didn't level it all, but glad they didn't. The museum at the Congress Hall is excellent and is really insightful. If you go, make sure you walk around the side of the building and walk into the uncompleted center. The walking tour in the RS Germany book was easy to follow and helped get a bearing on the whole area. There is a lot of older historical sites to see in Nurnberg too.

Posted by
10344 posts

The posts by our residents of Germany and others have made for a more detailed discussion of this subject, not often discussed here (the subject of intact WW2 "ruins", still there, in Germany). Tom's use of the term "secondary evidence" helped in thinking about the issue of Germany's rebuilding and their remembrance of WW2 and the Holocaust. Thanks to those who've taken time to share their knowledge of this subject.

Posted by
2400 posts

I did check a POW site and found there is one "cabin" restored at Moosburg, I think it was Stalag 7A but not sure, anyway, Patton liberated it end of April 1945. Look up POW sites and see what is available as it might be interesting.

Posted by
19 posts

Thanks, JB. We have been to Normandy several times and this time will only be in Germany with maybe a short trip to Poland.

Posted by
14580 posts

Sara, Depending on your mode of transportation (if you have access to a car) and what sort esoteric sites you want to see, you can go Torgau an der Elbe, the specific site where the Russians and US troops linked up, the German military cemeteries near Warburg, in Viersen in the lower Rhein area. also the big one in the Reichswald, and in Berlin the famous one not far from Hauptbahnhof, from where you can walk to, the Invalidenfriedhof. ( a bit run down) ...these I have seen and the real big one for the Russians in Berlin Treptow. Another small town with a military cemetery for soldiers from both wars is Eutin/Holstein. When I was there in 1977, I was rushed for time and didn't go there. In Upper Bavaria go Bad Tölz, where the barracks were taken over by US Special Forces, but whole complex was the Waffen SS training grounds, all survived the war intact. If you're going to be in Munich, go to the Feldherrnhalle and Odeonplatz, where Hitler's Putsch in 1923 was attempted. If you are focusing on big cities, then Berlin, as suggested above, is the place...the Plötzensee Memorial, where members of the resistance were hanged...extremely poignant.

Posted by
9046 posts

If you are going to be in Munich, then you might consider a walking tour with Dark History Tours. They offer some very interesting tours that will show you the dark side history with the nazis in Munich. Prices are very reasonable for joining a group tour and even the private tours are a bargain if you have a group. http://www.dark-history.eu/munich-city-tour.htm.htm

Posted by
296 posts

Dachau north of Munich. Very disturbing tours I might say after you feel the death that abounded there. A real testament to the American forces who, upon learning about the existence of this 200K+ POW camp, liberated it in 12 hours. The American divisions were on their way to Munich by the way. My uncle was part of this campaign, GO THERE for sure and see it for yourself.

Posted by
331 posts

In Nuernberg the parade grounds and podium from which Hitler made his speeches during the Nuernberg rallies is still standing, visible attempts by the allies to destory it add to its sense of horror and neglect. It is now a lorry park and as it is not advertised as a tourist destination can be difficult to find. Follow road signs for the Messe and it is unmistakeable when you see it. Very thought provoking. Nothing to do with Germany but the submarine pens in La Rochelle on the west coast of France, also not advertised or visited, where Hitler hid his Alantic fleet had the same effect. Perhaps because they are forgotten relics. The 'thematic history trails,( 'Themengeschichtspfade' - also published in English), are a series of cultural history trails through Munich published by the City of Munich. One tour is entitled National Socialism in Munich and it comes in the form of a pocket sized book with numbered maps and walks published with the intention of keeping the memory of the crimes committed by Nazism alive. This booklet, combined with the walking tour and the audio version (also available in English)which you can download from the internet free of charge is intended to provide a comprehensive introduction to National Socialism and it's sites within the city. www.meunchen.de/tgp www.ns-dokumentationszentrum-muenchen.de This tour is great for those that prefer to do things at their own pace rather than join an organised, and sometimes costly, tour.

Posted by
1064 posts

I have seen several WWII sites in Germany, but few have left as deep an impression as simply walking through village cemeteries, some probably hundreds of years old, and seeing the majority of gravestones dating from the WWI and WWII years, especially WWII. There is where you will find ample evidence of both wars.

Posted by
10344 posts

As a follow-up to Roy's good post about walking through the village cemeteries: the records show about 10% of Germany's total population was killed in WW2. One out of ten killed. That doesn't even include the maimed and wounded.

Posted by
719 posts

I would definitely recommend the Rallying Grounds at Nurnberg. While these predate the war, they are an excellent insight into the Nazi Party, Hitlers charisma, and how he pulled an entire country into his grasp. Definitely spooky stuff that will give you chills as you walk across the Zeppelin field or get a glimpse of his colloseum that wasn't quite completed. I'm getting chills writing this to you...