Documentation center opens on Gestapo site


BERLIN (JTA) — A new documentation center opened on the site of the former Gestapo headquarters.

The May 6 dedication of the Topography of Terror center, at the site where the fates of millions of victims during the Third Reich were signed and sealed, took place against the backdrop of neo-Nazi marches across Germany the previous weekend.

Politicians, Jewish leaders and scholars stressed that such educational projects such as the new center are an important reminder of the dangers of totalitarianism.

Topography of Terror, which began with a temporary outdoor exhibit in 1987, now has its permanent home in Niederkirchnerstrasse, where the Nazi regime of terror and persecution was controlled.

"No place is more connected with the Nazi crimes than this," German President Horst Koehler said during the dedication ceremonies.

Perpetrators had "no crisis of conscience," said Charlotte Knobloch, head of the Central Council of Jews in Germany.

"There are still places in the world where not all people are treated equally under the law," said Andreas Nachama, director of the archive. "This is a site for learning, for today and the future."

The documentation center includes an auditorium and library in addition to a permanent exhibit focusing on the atrocities committed in the name of the German people.

The $27 million center, a one-story cement structure, began construction in November 2007. It was designed by German architect Ursula Wilms and landscape architect Heinz Hallmann.

Nearby is Germany’s main Holocaust memorial, which marked its fifth anniversary on May 5 with a discussion on the impact of its 2,711 concrete slabs on an undulating field, and underground information center.

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