The German Resistance Memorial known as the stands on Stauffenbergstrasse in the German capital.
The centre is a memorial, centre for political study, research facility, and museum. It features an extensive permanent exhibition as well as many temporary installations. All illustrate the resistance of German people to the Nazi movement in the 1930s and 1940s.
Built between 1911 and 1914, the Bendlerblock complex housed the Imperial German Navy. After World War One, the new Ministry of Defence set up headquarters there. Under Nazi rule, the complex also housed the Foreign Office and Supreme High Command of the German Army.
On 20th July 1952, the first stone of the memorial was laid. A year later, Mayor of Berlin, Ernst Reuter unveiled the memorial. On 20th July 1968, the first iteration of the museum opened. It extended under Mayor Richard von Weizsäcker in the 1980s to include non-military resistance.
The German Resistance Memorial museum lies within the Bendlerblock. The street on which Bendlerblock stands was once Bendlerstrasse. Renaming took place to commemorate Colonel Claus Schenk Graf von Stauffenberg. A statue and plaque in the inner courtyard of the complex marks the spot where Nazi officials executed Stauffenberg in July 1944. Other members of the group plotting the failed 20th July assassination plot met their fate here too.
A translation of the plaque reads:
You did not bear the shame. You resisted. You bestowed the eternally vigilant symbol of change by sacrificing your impassioned lives for freedom, justice and honour.
On the morning of 20th July 1944, Claus von Stauffenberg flew to a meeting in the Wolf’s Lair, Hitler’s secret military headquarters. In his briefcase, he carried a bomb designed to kill Hitler and bring down the Nazi regime. The attempt failed. At midnight that night, Nazi officers executed Stauffenberg and other plotters at the Bendlerblock. In 2008, Tom Cruise donned an eyepatch to play Stauffenberg in the Hollywood blockbuster ‘Valkyrie’.
The intention of the memorial is to commemorate members of the German Army who attempted to assassinate Hitler. It is also a memorial to individuals and resistance groups outside of the military. This includes underground networks of Social Democrats and Communists, The White Rose, Christian groups, and intelligence gathering groups.
An inscription at the entrance reads:
Here in the former Supreme Headquarters of the Army, Germans organised the attempt of 20th July 1944 to end the Nazi rule of injustice. For this, they sacrificed their lives. The Federal Republic of Germany and the State of Berlin created this new memorial place in the year 1980.
Photos from 2017
A selection of photographs from a visit to the German Resistance Memorial in October 2017.
The displays show the history of Nazi Germany and all resisters have equal standing. While showing the resistance stories, there is no denial that most of Germany supported Hitler’s regime. There was no single effective resistance movement as in other countries.
The museum also hails Germans in exiles who supported the Allied cause such as Marlene Dietrich.
The modern German military now has a moral duty that goes beyond blind obedience of orders. Those who plotted with von Stauffenberg are now considered heroes.