The division of Germany after WW2 would not have happened if it had not been for the war itself. In this sense, the end of the Second World War and the subsequent Cold War are two sides of the same coin. Modern German history cannot be understood without this connection – and Potsdam played a crucial role in both.
On this private guided Potsdam tour, we start from Berlin and travel to the venues which were the setting for some of history’s most important conferences and consequential decisions.
With help from some of its most famous sights, join us to discover the role that Potsdam played in German history before, during and after the second world war.
Jewish History in Berlin
Our journey through time beings at the “Gleis 17” (Platform 17) Memorial on the outskirts of Berlin. Here we commemorate the many thousands of Jewish Berliners who were deported to Nazi concentration and extermination camps during the worst atrocities of WW2.
Continuing our journey towards Potsdam, next we visit Wannsee House, a grand villa once owned by industrialist Friedrich Minoux and later used by the SS as an operations base during the Second World War.
It was here that the infamous Wannsee conference took place, where the fate of Europe’s Jewish population was negotiated by the Nazis – resulting in the deportations we remembered at Gleis 17. The house is now dedicated as a memorial to the Jews who tragically lost their lives during the Holocaust.
Hohenzollern-Schloss Cecilienhof and Glienicker Brücke
Our itinerary next leads us on to the former Hohenzollern-Schloss Cecilienhof. In Summer 1945 victory was declared in Europe, and it was here that the heads of state of the Allied victorious powers gathered to decide what to do about the defeated Nazi Germany.
The outcomes of the Potsdam conference were formative, shaping the political landscape of the 20th Century and creating far reaching consequences that ripple into the present day. Following these key decisions Germany was quickly divided; just a few months later the Cold War was underway. With your guide, explore the key events that took place in East Germany and Berlin after WW2, and the transition into the Soviet Union that lasted until the 1990s.
This period of history left lasting traces throughout Berlin – not least in Potsdam – where we can find many key sights from the Cold War era. One of these is The Glienicke Bridge, made famous by the Steven Spielberg film “Bridge of Spies”. Here you can expect to hear the incredible stories of international spy exchanges that took place in real life during the cold war.
KGB Prison & Soviet Cemetery
Continuing our Cold War theme, we’ll move on to the former prison of the Soviet military counterintelligence – otherwise known as the KGB Prison – whose history is as sinister as it is fascinating. Inside we find still-intact torture rooms and cells, where desperate prisoners engraved their messages in the walls as they awaited a closed trial, or even execution.
Amazingly, the prison was in active use by the KGB right up until 1991, when the secret service finally collapsed. It is now a memorial to all those who suffered and died at the hands of the secret services, as well as a center for democratic and political education.
For our final stop in Potsdam, we’ll visit the Soviet War Cemetery in the historic city center of Potsdam, which was built after the end of the war in 1945 to honour fallen soldiers from the Red Army. Learn about why the cemetery was built here, and understand the significance of the typical soviet monument at its centre.
Teufelsberg Listening Station
On the way back to Berlin, a trip to the Teufelsberg in the southwest of the city rounds off the tour (if time permits). During the Cold War, a huge US listening station was installed on top of the hill, the ruins of which can still be seen today along with spectacular views over the surrounding area.
This private tour has a flexible itinerary and as such it can be adjusted to suit your individual interests. We can also create a programme across several days if you would like to include other tours too.
If you’d like to make changes or enquire about the tour details please enquire using the form below or book online here.