Exterior view, 2020 | © NS-Dokumentationszentrum München, photo: Connolly Weber Photography

The nsdoku

The Munich Documentation Center for the History of National Socialism conveys the history of National Socialism with a view to the present and the future and considers the historical experience of the Nazi dictatorship in a current and global context.

About us

The new Documentation Center opened in 2015 on the site of the former “Brown House,” the first headquarters of the National Socialist German Workers Party (NSDAP), as the Nazi Party was officially called. Between 1933 and 1945, the area around Königsplatz became a showcase for Nazi aesthetics and the regime’s seat of power where many branches of the Nazi administration had their central offices.

We undertake a critical examination of the history of this location and address Munich’s historical significance as the former “capital of the movement.” Taking as our starting point the historical events leading up to and during the Nazi dictatorship, we focus particularly on the impact these events have had since then—right up to the present day.

Our central concern is to use this historical perspective to take a critical look at the present and to ask questions that have a bearing on the future: What characterizes a strong democracy? What can weaken it? Where are minorities experiencing exclusion and persecution today? What values and what modes of behavior can sustain an open society based on a sense of solidarity? How do we want to remember the past?

The Documentation Center stages exhibitions, art interventions, events, and participatory projects. It also offers online programs, a Learning Center, and a library. Educational programs invite various target groups to address the history of National Socialism and its continuities into the present. In 2025 a memorial site devoted to the history of Nazi forced labor will open as an annex of the Documentation Center in the grounds of the former German Railways Maintenance Workshops in the Munich district of Neuaubing.

Our mission

The Munich Documentation Center for the History of National Socialism conveys the history of National Socialism with a view to the present and the future. In our exhibitions, events, workshops, and seminars we consider the historical experience of the Nazi dictatorship in a current and global context. Nazi ideology and the crimes perpetrated by the Nazi regime form the starting point for our work. Munich’s role as the place where the Nazi Party originated and where its headquarters were located is of special significance. Topics such as war and genocide, racism and anti-Semitism, exclusion and displacement are further focuses of our work.

The Munich Documentation Center is an international institution with doors opening in many directions. It offers a museal and communicative space where people from different backgrounds and disciplines can come together. Our projects involve a variety of partners from the fields of education, scholarship, remembrance work, art, and culture.  

In our work we seek to sensitize people to the continuing repercussions of National Socialism and at the same time to strengthen public awareness of the positive things that have been achieved since the defeat of the Nazi dictatorship: a liberal democracy, universal human rights, a united Europe, and a lively remembrance discourse. Out of the experience of history, visions can emerge of how we want to live as a society in the future—visions that entail an open-ended process of continuous development. We are committed to the principles of diversity, equality, respect, and participation. We counter nationalist and revisionist views of history as well as right-wing extremist tendencies with knowledge, creativity, and optimism.

In memory of Max Mannheimer

Street sign at nsdoku, 2018 | © NS-Dokumentationszentrum München, photo: Connolly Weber Photography

Max Mannheimer (February 6, 1920 – September 23, 2016), businessman, artist, Holocaust survivor, president of the Dachau Camp Community, vice president of the International Dachau Committee, co-initiator of the Munich Documentation Center.  

The Holocaust survivor and contemporary witness Max Mannheimer died on September 23, 2016. As a permanent memorial to him and as a tribute to his unique social engagement, the square in front of the Documentation Center was named Max Mannheimer Platz on February 6, 2018, the day Max Mannheimer would have celebrated his 98th birthday.  

Because of his Jewish origin Max Mannheimer was deported by the Nazis from his home in Moravia to the extermination camp Auschwitz-Birkenau, where his parents, his wife, and three of his siblings were murdered. Together with his brother Edgar, Mannheimer was sent from Auschwitz to the Munich-Allach and Mühldorf subcamps of the Dachau concentration camp to perform forced labor. Close to starvation and seriously ill, the brothers just barely survived the camps. After the war Max Mannheimer met his second wife, a German resistance fighter, in his Moravian home town. Together they moved to Munich where Mannheimer worked as a businessman and became active in the Jewish community and the Social Democratic party. Mannheimer was an advocate for many charitable organizations and under the pseudonym “ben jakov” produced a notable oeuvre as a painter. From the 1980s onwards he made the fight against right-wing extremism and anti-Semitism his life’s mission. As a contemporary witness he related his experiences as a Holocaust survivor, seeking personal encounters and an open dialogue, especially with young people

An art project in public space: Brienner 45

Part of the artwork Brienner 45, 2017 | © NS-Dokumentationszentrum München, Photo: Connolly Weber Photography

The media artwork Brienner 45 by the brothers Benjamin and Emanuel Heisenberg is located outside the Munich Documentation Center. In a film collage the artists juxtapose and contrast texts from key Nazi-era documents with historical and contemporary images. The film clips are shown on monitors distributed around the outside space rather like the walls of a ruined building. The installation is designed to draw the attention of passers-by, visitors, and local residents to the historical significance of the location.

Benjamin and Emanuel Heisenberg’s media artwork created in collaboration with Elisophie Eulenburg was the winning entry in a competition held by the Cultural Department of the City of Munich under the heading “The Origins of the Rise of National Socialism in Munich—Consequences for the Present and Future.” The jury praised the artistic approach, which, it said, set out to deconstruct Nazi semantics by highlighting its contradictions and referencing the present in disturbing ways. .

Download the project brochure

The architecture

Ansicht der Fassade, 2014 | © NS-Dokumentationszentrum München, Foto: Connolly Weber Photography

The architecture of the Documentation Center and the shaping of the outside space were designed to signal a fundamental break with the history of the location and with the former Nazi buildings in the neighborhood. The design by the Berlin architects Georg Scheel Wetzel won the competition for the new Munich Documentation Center. 

The cube-like building marks the place associated with the perpetrators of Nazi crimes without actually referencing the “Brown House.” The louvered windows allow visual connections to be made with the architectural remains of the Nazi era, thus incorporating the authentic locations into the exhibition. Alongside its compact, cube-like form, the architecture of the new building is strongly defined by its materials. White fair-faced concrete is the dominant feature of both the exterior and interior architecture, forming a strong contrast with the surroundings. The light, unbroken surfaces of the facade are punctuated by dark windows that in some cases extend over several floors.

The history: a civil society initiative

Information board on the northern plinth of the so-called “Temples of Honor”, 2004 | Photo: Landeshauptstadt München

During the 1980s citizens’ initiatives and history workshops increasingly began campaigning for a critical examination of the traces of Munich’s Nazi past in public space.  In 1988 plans to build over the plinths of the so-called “Temples of Honor” were abandoned following fierce public criticism and demands to take an offensive approach to this central location associated with the perpetrators of Nazi crimes. In the following years art campaigns and exhibitions drew attention to the history of the location, and in 1995 an information board was erected by the northern plinth for the first time

Beginning in the 1990s the City of Munich commemorated the Nazi era with a number of exhibitions and events. In 2001/2002 the city council took the decision to create a Documentation Center for the History of National Socialism. The Bavarian government and the German federal government each shouldered one third of the investment. In 2005 the city established three bodies—a Board of Trustees, a Scientific Advisory Board and a Political Advisory Council. Together with a group of scholars attached to the Department of Culture these prepared the way for the new project. 

At the end of 2005 the Bavarian government made the site of the former “Brown House” available for building the documentation center. The remains of its cellars were excavated, documented, and demolished. On March 9, 2012, the foundation stone of the new building was laid. The Munich Documentation Center for the History of National Socialism opened on May 1, 2015.