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Friday 4 March 2011

Berlin's Chamber of Horrors

Here's another tourist attraction that has had to suffer a rebranding in order to make it palatable to modern tastes. In the case of the Hellfire Caves, it was sex and Satanism that were airbrushed out of history. In the case of Berlin's GruselKabinett it's (wait for it)... the Nazis!

The GruselKabinett is to be found near the bombed ruins of the Anhalter train station in the centre of Berlin (the photo on the left is one I took myself, for once). Literally meaning "gruesome cabinet", GruselKabinett is the German word for Chamber of Horrors. And these days, that's just what it is -- the German equivalent of the London Dungeon, filled with artificial skeletons and vampires. But the building has a genuine historic significance, which is every bit as horrific as its current contents... it was constructed during the Second World War as the station's air-raid shelter. It's now one of the few structures dating from the Third Reich left standing in Berlin -- and as far as I know, the only one open to the public. It does have a small exhibit relating to wartime Berlin down in the basement, but apart from that it's very much a case of Nicht erwähnen den Krieg ("don't mention the War")!

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