The names invoke fear. Gestapo and the SS. The exhibit, Topographie des Terrors, sends a chill down the spine when you learn that you are standing in the exact same spot where the most feared institutions of Nazi Germany once stood. I tried my best not to imagine what horrendous acts went on here in the Gestapo Headquarters and the SS Central Command.
We came here as a short stretch of the Berlin Wall still runs along the Nierderkirchner Strasse. Also it’s on the way to Checkpoint Charlie. But despite me beginning to lose feeling in my legs from all that walking, our nephew told us that the exhibit is well worth looking into. With the thought that there might also be some seats for me to rest up, we turned around and went in for a visit. And we were sure glad we did. The Topography of Terror exhibit is a thoroughly engaging exercise. With large full length sized photos and detailed information chronicling every stage, it draws you in completely. From the faces of the Nazi chiefs to those terrorized and persecuted, it was enough to learn how it all happened.
Then to walk the short distance to Checkpoint Charlie, and be faced with the tackiest of tourist spots, I suddenly did not quite know what to do. Here you can get a stamp for your passport as in days past when this checkpoint was a gateway between the East and the West or get your photo taken with dress up actors. I guess we were not the only ones feeling that way as others were standing on the sides of the street, looking on, as the actors pranced back and forth waiting for photos. This reminded me of the gladiators standing outside the colosseum in Rome hoping for photos in exchange for a fee. And you would have the same in Los Angeles where within ten feet, you can have Wolverine, Batman or even Captain Jack Sparrow. But these guys I did not know, and I could hear my Mother’s advice ringing in my ears to “Beware of Strangers!”
So, we left as we came. Still not quite sure what the fuss is all about. But not before a few tourists decided to take the chance. Upon showing a glimmer of interest, they were immediately surrounded and escorted to the red carpet at the front of the booth. There they were offered all sorts of props to wear and hold so that they could “fit” in for that money shot. As for getting their passports stamped? Well, we didn’t even stay to find out. We had simply quite enough.