Time to start wrapping up the Berlin Stories. Sorry if you were waiting for Sally Bowles to show up, but it’s just not going to happen.
I’ll be posting three brief notes about my time in the city, then one final Goodbye to All That.
The Topography of Terror
The Topography of Terror is built on the site of the buildings which once served as the headquarters of the Gestapo and the SS. It’s a free museum that uses photographs, posters, newspapers, and videos to document the rise of the Nazi party, and the monstrous mechanics of its reign of terror. No matter how well prepared you are, visiting the museum is an intense and shocking experience.
The displays are arranged chronologically, from the beginnings of the Third Reich through WWII and into the post-war era. Beyond the atrocities of the Nazi regime itself, it’s what happened after the war that was particularly disturbing for me, because I’d never been aware of it before: The vast majority of the agents of Nazi government were never charged for any of their crimes. Very few of the thousands of active participants in the terror ever faced any repercussions.
The museum name names. In case after case, police and other government officials who carried out atrocities, including mass murder, retained their positions after the war. In the rare instances when they were tried and convicted, in was not unusual to see that they were “sentenced to 27 years in prison, released after 13 months.”
The bastards got away with it.