As you walk in, past the gate by the surrounding school premises and along a metal ramp, the structure looms even larger above. Then you enter through dark passageways, lined with newspaper clippings about the place, esp. the "chamber of horrors" part (all in German) plus some general information (with some English translations).
When you get to the ticket window you will have to decide whether you want to do the whole thing, i.e. including the "Gruselkabinett", i.e. the horror show on the ground floor and first floor, or just the museum part downstairs.
The "Gruselkabinett", or 'chamber of horrors', has gory displays about ancient medical practices (designed to chill and shock, rather than inform) and upstairs is more ghost, skeletons and blood stuff. More for the kids, really, though apparently there's also some "live" scariness to be expected (or not) up here. OK, if you like such fairground scares, though typically cheesy … if the photos you can see online are anything to go by. I can't really say myself, because I opted for the cheaper museum-only ticket (and I presume for most of the readers of this website the same can be recommended).
With that you are sent past the display cabinets with items for sale (Halloween decoration style stuff) and downstairs where a whole floor is now a museum. This is a serious, sober, if a bit "auto-didactic" style exhibition about the bunker and Berlin during the air raids in general. In the first (ante-)room, there's an area with seats and a TV screen playing a short film about the bunker, featuring the proprietor herself telling her story of setting up this museum.
On the walls are documents and ground plans and also letters, including a long eyewitness report. A section behind the TV features a "hole" in the bunker wall – so you can see how thick the concrete is. Two steel doors, so heavy it took seven men to carry each of them, are also on display.
Further into the bunker, several exhibition rooms branch off the main corridor. These contain, for instance, items found in the bunker – including gas masks, provisions, photos, documents, pamphlets, etc. – even funny stuff like rather frivolous "marriage advice", illustrated rather candidly for the times.
Other exhibits include old newspapers, more documents and photos not directly linked to this particular bunker – even a whole section about the "Führerbunker" at the Reich Chancellery (see Berlin
) and its demolition/sealing. Attached are copies of Hitler
's and Eva Braun's wedding certificate, from shortly before they committed suicide in that bunker, and an eyewitness report of the latter. This is augmented by photos of the national-socialist style wall paintings inside the preserved but sealed "Fahrerbunker" ('drivers' bunker – see, again, under Berlin
One section of the main corridor's wall features an impressive series of aerial photos of the Anhalter station area, from during WWII
, first still intact, then bombed-out, up to the post-war demolition and clearing of the area.
Highly entertaining (and hugely illuminating too!) is another section in one of the exhibition rooms about "war cuisine" – featuring various recipes adapted to or invented in the light of the hardships of wartime rationing and dearth. Some of the "inspired" culinary ideas represented here even sound quite tasty!
Finally, further downstairs, in one room of the otherwise blocked off floor below, there's a four-minute tape loop playing accompanied with some light-and-sound effects, which is supposed to give an impression of bunker life. It's a bit amateur theatre-ish (scripted by the museum's proprietor herself, based on eyewitnesses' stories) and tries a bit too hard to cram too many aspects into such a short "play" (with five speakers/actors), but it's still an endearing attempt.
In general you can tell that this museum has come into being out of private initiative, not with the usual government-backed funding and professional, modern-museum multi-media and interactive affairs you often find in "official" memorial museums these days. It may lack the polished perfectionism and sleek didactics of such museums, but I found the absence of this actually almost refreshing. The individualistic and occasionally comparatively "amateurish" nature of the place certainly gives it character.
Given that this is also the only such bunker in Berlin that is regularly accessible for the public (others are accessible only on guided bunker tours
), it should rank highly on any dark tourist's itinerary in Berlin.
The main exhibit is, of course, the massive building itself, and the long dank corridors convey a suitably oppressive mood. But I actually found the exhibition contents surprisingly interesting too and often informative in an unexpected way.
Most documents, newspaper cuttings, etc. are naturally in German, but descriptive texts are partly translated into English (again, not all that professionally, but OK enough to convey crucial points of information). There are also some bits in Russian. Typically, the translations are only shortened summaries, but still, better than none at all.