NS Documentation Centre of the City of Cologne

NS Documentation Centre of the City of Cologne: Hours, Address, NS Documentation Centre of the City of Cologne Reviews: 4.5/5

NS Documentation Centre of the City of Cologne

NS Documentation Centre of the City of Cologne
11:00 AM - 6:00 PM
10:00 AM - 6:00 PM
10:00 AM - 6:00 PM
10:00 AM - 6:00 PM
10:00 AM - 6:00 PM
11:00 AM - 6:00 PM
11:00 AM - 6:00 PM
This old Nazi prison, preserved in its original state, is a terrifying reminder of the horrors of the Holocaust.
Suggested duration
1-2 hours
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Tours and Tickets
The area
Neighborhood: Altstadt-Nord
How to get there
  • Koln Central Station • 9 min walk
Popular mentions

1,378 reviews
Very good

4,826 contributions
Avoid if not a German speaker.
Sep 2020 • Couples
The NS Documentation Museum should be avoided on a trip to Cologne if you are not a German speaker and even if you are, do not prioritise this museum. The special exhibit was good, however it's impossible to enjoy the main part of the museum without paying additionally for the Audio guide. This was not explained when we bought our ticket. Overall this was an incredibly disappointing experience.

Written September 27, 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC.

Germany12 contributions
Sep 2020
Interesting museum, definitely get the audio guide as not many of the texts are translated into English.
Written September 21, 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC.

Rotterdam, The Netherlands12 contributions
Exhibition about the Nazi's policy against minorities.
Aug 2020
Since this was the Gestapo headquarters I had expected a tour which talked about the Gestapo and how they worked. This is only briefly mentioned.
The information is mostly about the policies of the Nazi's against minorities. Some audio and most of it is written. Everything is in German and not translated. My German is ok, so I understood a reasonable amount. Only one of my friends doesn't speak German, so he didn't understand anything.
Don't expect any furniture from that time or at all. It is basically a bunch of halls with information. Also we were there during the summer and it got quite hot inside.

If you want an exhibition about Nazi policies I can recommend it. Only I went inside to learn more about the Gestapo. Since this was hardly mentioned and it was just text and some audio, I was disappointed.
Written August 22, 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC.

Ashford, UK22 contributions
Definitely go here.
Mar 2020 • Couples
For €5.50 per adult this place is a bargain. I would recommend the English audio guide for an extra €2 each because the information is endless.

If you like your second world war history then you'll find it fascinating. We stayed for about 2-2.5 hours but had to leave because they were closing

I would recommend to everyone, young and old!
Written March 9, 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC.

Simon O
Cambridge, UK22 contributions
Great place to visit - very interesting and informative
Mar 2020
Been to Cologne 4 times and never been here so did this on the 5th. Less than 5 euros to get in and was there for around an hour and a half. The top 2 floors have lots of information and photos but all in German, still interesting to see. The cellar though has lots of photos and information in English too. Seeing the cells and reading the experiences of prisoners was very interesting. If you have an interest in history, a must visit!
Written March 2, 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC.

Los Angeles, CA464 contributions
Gestapo headquarters - humbling experience
Jan 2020 • Solo
This visit can be emotionally tough, it serves as a good reminder of the atrocities mankind is capable at the hands of evil leaders. The upper floor displays documentation and artefacts, mostly in German with no English translation. If you do not speak German, I would focus on the main level and the basement, which was, for all intents & purposes, the prison/torture chambers of the Gestapo. The courtyard, where over 400 souls were taken can also be visited. Never again!
Written February 22, 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC.

Ivan L.
Cologne, Germany57 contributions
The Centre is a place of commemoration, learning and research all in one.
Feb 2020
At certain point in life - it should be the duty of every human being to learn something about the madness of any kind of idealism. This museum, as well as the included exhibitions ("Do not forget your name", while we were there) are the chilling reminder of the idealistic madness propagated by Nazional-Sozialismus and the accompanied horrors that took lives of millions of innocent human beings. It is a chilling, terrifying experience, but in my opinion, in today's times - unfortunately - necessary.

Extract from the web page: The Centre is a place of commemoration, learning and research all in one.

The approach to the location is rather simple as the museum is rather in the centre of Cologne (actually, right next to the Cologne Museum). We arrived by car and parked in the nearby underground garage (Du Mont Carre). It is not the cheapest option, but since it was rather cold and rainy day - it was the most suitable. For 4 hours of parking, we paid 10 EUR. I have learned long ago that Cologne is "Pirates Den" when it comes to parking. My advice - suck it up. Or come by public transport.

Entry is quite easy to find as the house is quite distinguishable and well depicted on the web page. Entry fee (a.k.a. "the Ticket") was 4.50 EUR per person. All things considered, I find this to be justified price.

Access for disabled persons: The ground floor of the museum is somewhat elevated and the basement (and underbasement) do not have elevator. However, all of the compartments, except underbasement, can be accessed by wheelchair. The museum has separate entrance through the memorial backyard. From there, the disabled person can directly access the basement (prison) or use the elevator to access any of the three floors above.

*Larger wheelchair cannot pass through the basement as the hallways are to narrow. Simple wheelchair could probably do it, but I recommend asking at the reception first.

**For the Vault - I simply do not know. :/

The museum itself comprises of 5 levels (which, in turn, hold 6 different compartments/departments):

a) Ground floor with exhibitions
b) Vault (accessible separately from ground floor)
c) First floor
d) Second floor
e) Basement
f) Underbasement

*Vault and basement are in the same "basement" level, but are not physically connected. To see the other compartment, man has to go from the one he/she is in, up to the ground floor and then descent into it. Ground floor is the junction for Vault, Basement and First floor.

a) Ground Floor - The exhibition "Do not forget your name" was somewhat "hard on the stomach". Do not get me wrong; I do not consider myself to be "mushy" or soft and I, myself, come from pretty rough place (have seen war and shelters as well), but what is presented here takes some guts to accept. The exhibition is not bloody, nor does it have any gruesome parts (actually, the whole museum does not have one single "disgusting" or inappropriate exhibit), but the story it tells and unravels will send shivers down the spine of every normal human being. When children are involved (and this whole exhibition IS about children and mothers), the gruesomeness ascend to completely different, almost unimaginable level.

I found testimonies to be the hardest part to go through.

b) Vault - Vault had an exhibition of children's drawings and other artistic artefacts (ALL made by children) on the Anti-Racism theme. Quite interesting. (Think Anne Frank.)

c) First floor - First floor had mostly an exhibition about Cologne during the NS era.

d) Second floor - Second floor had an exhibition about the rise and fall of Nazional-Sozialismus and the accompanied horrors for it's victims. Quite a horrifying experience.

e) Basement - Basement was the prison. The inmates were held there in inhuman conditions and everything about that can be read and seen. It is not hard to see, but it is difficult to accept.

f) Underbasement - Underbasement was a torturing and murdering chamber. Not much to see here because it is the smallest compartment, but due to it's significance - it is open to public as the part of what this "house of horrors"used to be. Written exhibits on the wall tell equally horrifying story as any other in this museum.

For the end, my own opinion.

I was thinking whether I should give this review 4 or 5 stars and in the end, due to it's nature - decided to give it 5. This place is - worth it. Well worth it.

However, I will point out some small bothers that I find could be upgraded without much efforts.

1) Toilets - Toilets are available on almost every floor (except the basement) and I personally used one on the ground floor. The toilet was very clean and I felt no disgust going in and having a relief. However, one should know that toilets are unisex (meaning, intended to be used by both sexes). Still - very clean. And I find that commendable. Lack of soap can happen (as lot of people goes through the museum every day, which makes the maintained cleanliness even more astonishing), but one can report that at the reception desk and it will be dealt with right away.

2) The translations of some of the exhibits - The museum is LARGELY and PREDOMINANTLY bi-lingual (German and English), however, the videos mostly lack english translation and some (minor part) of the artefacts have short descriptions in german language.

3) The presenting quality of some exhibits - some (roughly half) of the earphones had simply too quiet sound. This should be taken care of. The projections on the walls were totally faded and obscured. My guess is this comes from the well worn out reflector lamps in the projectors (as they are used every day), but - someone should take care of that as well. It is not imperative to see delusional masses cheering to Adolph Hitler, but if it is there to ascertain impression on the visitor, than that is what it should do.

And also, the earphones (simple single-speaker encased in a metal cup) were quite dirty, because they are grabbed by lots of people...daily. This is really something, someone should take care of. Especially since they are enclosed in heavy metal cup.

Personal message regarding the above: Yes, I know you are Germans, but for this purpose, you should have made them more usable. Not indestructible.

*One should know that last two remarks, probably have something to do with the fact that (and I find this quite shameful) the museum up until recently (but probably still today) had to "fight and bite" for every single peace of funding. Meaning that, yes, this is Germany, but that only means that you can BUY expensive projector lamps and have someone to properly redesign and deliver the new headphones. And having limited resources means that you have to cope with some minor...well...bothers.

4) This remark will be of somewhat personal nature - Annoying groups of rather rude and loud GERMAN high-school pupils. Yes, I personally, wholeheartedly support the idea that students should, at some reasonable age, be well educated in the disastrous history of their own country. However, stepping into museum confronted me with not one, but actually two, groups of german-speaking apes, behaving like they just had twenty crates of whiskey-drenched bananas. This is - without precedent. Needless to say that these did not give a flying frack about the horror stories they were supposed to witness in the museum.

Furthermore, I literally had to "protrude" my way in, as one of the above "members of mentioned society" decided to have a shouting contest with his "colleague" - right there at the door (naturally, blocking the way for the rest of us and some other visitors). Now, this may be a sporadic incident, but it did not just magically occurred once, and not just to us. The educational system produces such "personas" and this might very well be the scene you will encounter too. Teachers fulfil their Curiculum requirements and bring these students here. Luckily, people like these are faster gone then they come so...just wait a minute and these will be gone.

And finally - my own recommendation: do come.

It is an indescribably sad and heavy experience, but...one well worth experiencing. For any decent human being, this should be one stop in life and the reminder that some things are well worth thinking through and should be well thought through before they are actually committed to.
Written February 14, 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC.

London, UK162 contributions
Be prepared when you go in here. . . this place pulls no punches
Dec 2019
I would recommend a visit to anyone especially if they have not had the chance to visit any concentration camp before.
This place is sobering so be ready for a place & time to reflect afterwards. I have never before seen prison cells with handwriting inside. Upstairs is a through catalog of Cologne's civic participation of NS. This place is a warning for future generations to learn from.
Written February 10, 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC.

McLean, VA61 contributions
Should be on the must-do list
Mar 2019
The Gestapo headquarters in Cologne (a.k.a The NS Documentation Center) is a very moving and emotional place to visit. Reading the displays about the rise of Nazism, and looking at the various artifacts and holding/torture cells in the basement, you learn a lot about the dreadful and horrible history of this place during the 1930s and 40s. It's a large building and there is a lot to see. You walk through the building and explore the various floors at your own pace. An intense experience.
Written February 8, 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC.

Wilmington, DE5,523 contributions
Intense, Solemn, so Significant to Experience
Oct 2019
A visit to this Gestapo HQ in Cologne is humbling. The site is intact. Guided by our walking tour headsets available at the front desk (must do), we visited every area. The place is untouched and when you see the photos from wartime WWII, realize where you are, it will shake you. Certainly a place you will not forget visiting.
Written February 7, 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC.

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Frequently Asked Questions about NS Documentation Centre of the City of Cologne

NS Documentation Centre of the City of Cologne is open:
  • Tue - Fri 10:00 AM - 6:00 PM
  • Sat - Sun 11:00 AM - 6:00 PM

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