With its banks, factories and business centers, Munich may at first appear staid and stable. But the city has a volatile past, especially during the years when Hitler and his Nazi Party began their first violent grabs for power. From the beer halls where he gathered his supporters to the Town Hall where Goebbels inaugurated Kristallnacht with an unhinged speech, it’s easy to discover Nazi Munich if you know where to look (and even better if you have a knowledgeable local guide). So here’s our guide to Nazi Munich, featuring some of the most signifiant sites in this chapter of the city’s past.
Hitler’s Beer Halls
You might be surprised to learn that the Nazis actually got their start in some of Munich’s most famous beer halls, at least one of which is still standing. The Hofbräuhaus am Platzl was an early gathering place for Hitler and his supporters, where the alcohol only inflamed their misguided opinions. You can still visit this beer hall today, which has a friendly atmosphere you wouldn’t typically associate with a dictator. Another beer hall, the Bürgerbräukeller, was the site of “The Beer Hall Putsch,” an unsuccessful early attempt to seize power. After leaving the beer hall in a drunken state, a group of Hitler’s supporters attempted to storm the Bavarian Defence Ministry. While the place is no longer a beer hall, it can still be visited today.
Königsplatz: Nazi Party Buildings
On the square known as Königsplatz, or “King’s Square,” you’ll find numerous Nazi Party buildings that look much the same today as they did during Hitler’s time. The Führerbau and the Ehrentempel are two of the most notable, but certainly not the only sites worth discovering. The first is the building where Hitler had his offices. This building is most famous for being the location where Hitler signed the peace agreement with Neville Chamberlin, which supposedly guaranteed “peace in our time.” Today the building hosts the University of Music and Performing Arts Munich. Ehrentempel was originally two temple sites constructed by the Nazis in the 1930s. These were destroyed by advancing American armies, though today you’ll find a plaque on the site.
16 Prinzregentenplatz: Hitler’s Address
From 1929 to 1945 Hitler lived periodically at 16 Prinzregentenplatz. Today the building is a police station so it’s not open for tours, but the facade looks very similar to the way it used to.
Old Town Hall
Munich’s Old Town Hall is one of the most impressive buildings in the center of the city and it also played an important role in the Nazi’s seizure of power. This is the place where Joseph Goebbels gave the speech that inspired Kristallnacht on November 9, 1938. A pogrom against Jews throughout Germany, Kristallnacht led to the destruction of many Jewish-owned businesses and the arrest of thousands of Jewish citizens. Kristallnacht, or “the night of broken glass,” is generally considered the start of the Final Solution and the Holocaust.
Outside of Town: Dachau Concentration Camp
Of the many picturesque towns and villages that lie on the outskirts of Munich, one of the prettiest is the old medieval town of Dachau. Just outside the town center can today be found enduring testimony to the evil that was born among the rustic charm. Here a major international memorial site stands on the grounds of the former concentration camp. Tours of the area are available, including the surviving original buildings, the museum exhibition center, and the cinema which screens an English language documentary film. Under an hour from Munich by train, this is a harrowing and unforgettable day trip. If you are interested we can arrange a guided tour as part of your Central Europe vacation package.
Our Nazi Munich tour is a great way to see these sites and also listen to insightful commentary from an expert local guide about the Nazis in Munich.
Photos in this post are sourced from the following: