7 Historical WW2 Sites in Hamburg

Updated on March 10, 2024  

ww2 sites hamburg

In this blog post, we'll visit the most important World War II sites in Hamburg.

From bunkers to memorials, this city bears witness to a crucial chapter in history that you won't want to miss while you're here!

P.S. We've also include other historical sites to visit in Hamburg below 👇

Top WW2 Sites in Hamburg

St. Nikolai Memorial

If anyone asks where's the must-see historical site in Hamburg, it has to the the St. Nikolai Memorial.

Standing tall on the banks of the Alster river, it was once a 12th century Gothic church, and rebuilt after the Great Fire of 1842, it proudly held the title of the world's tallest building between 1874 and 1876! [1

Sadly, during World War II, the British Royal Air Force and the US Air Force launched air raids on Hamburg called Operation Gomorrah.

st-nikolai-church-and-memorial

The original church was wiped out, but surprisingly, the spire – still Hamburg's tallest – came out pretty much intact. You can still see it today!

It's now a WWII memorial and museum — but surprisingly, there weren't any lines when we went to check it out. Not everyone realizes there's a museum there, so you'll have to look for it in the old cathedral's crypt.

It's also worth heading to the observation deck, which offers excellent views of the entire city!

Feldstrasse Bunker on St. Pauli

If you are a fan of WWII history, it'll be hard to resist a trip to the WWII anti-aircraft bunker on Feldstrasse. This massive 40m tower in St. Pauli sheltered over 25,000 civilians during the famous Allied bombings of Hamburg.

It's not the only bunker in the city through – Hamburg apparently had over 1,000 bunkers, more than any other German city – but the one on Feldstrasse is one of the more prominent ones.

feldstrasse-bunker

It's still standing strong today as a piece of living history, but is now housing a musical school, a climbing hall, a concert venue, several media offices, and so on.

Plans are also in place to convert this bunker into a luxury hotel, with a gorgeous rooftop garden, which will be pretty cool to see when completed.

Ohlsdorf Cemetery

It might not seem like it at first, but the Ohlsdorf Cemetery is a key WWII historical site in Hamburg. Known as the world's largest cemetery park, it's really peaceful and beautiful.

Yet, beneath its serene exterior lie about 3,500 graves from World War I and an additional 3,000 from World War II, including those of soldiers and members of Nazi organizations.

cemetery

There's also the Hamburg Commonwealth War Graves Commission Cemetery – housing the graves of Commonwealth military personnel from both world wars.

Ohlsdorf Cemetery is pretty massive, and is hard to cover all of it in a short amount of time. There's about 391 hectares of it, with over 1.5 million burials across 280,000 sites. [2]

Neuengamme Concentration Camp Memorial

One of the most shameful parts of Hamburg's history is this old brick factory, turned into a concentration camp in 1938. Also known as KZ-Gedenkstätte Neuengamme, it served as a "sub-camp" of the Sachsenhausen concentration camp.

It's estimated that at least tens of thousands lost their lives here over the next seven years during World War II — including laborers, Jews, and political prisoners.

neuengamme-concentration-camp-memorial hamburg ww2 sites

A lot of the original buildings are still here, and visiting can be a really heavy experience. We felt a kind of intimidating atmosphere while walking around the camp, where prisoners were forced to dig canals, work in clay pits, and forge weapons.

I'd say you can easily spend a few hours exploring. When you see the exhibits and grasp that over 100,000 people passed through this camp, it's a sobering moment.

Memorial 76th Infantry Regiment

"Germany must live, even if we have to die" – those are the words written on this Nazi war memorial at Dammtordamm, built to honor the battles and soldiers of the 76th Infantry Regiment during World War II. [3]

Designed by Richard Kuohl, this distinctive marble sculpture has been controversial due to how it glorifies war and the Nazi regime. Interestingly, the memorial wasn't destroyed after WWII, but actually preserved.

memorial-76th-infantry-regiment ww2 site in hamburg

Instead, the city decided to construct "counter monuments" critiquing war instead.

Several of these counter monuments have since been built, including two by Austrian artist Alfred Hrdlicka, and one called The Memorial for Deserters and Other Victims of the Nazi Military Judiciary by Hamburg artist Volker Lang.

Bullenhuser Damm Memorial

This inconspicuous memorial doesn't appear in many Hamburg travel guides, but it's an important site of WWII history.

In the basement of this former school, 20 Jewish children, their carers and other prisoners were hanged in 1945 — to cover up hideous medical experiments on the children by Nazi doctor Kurt Heißmeyer.

At the Bullenhuser Damm memorial, there's an exhibition where you can learn more about the horrific experiments and murders, and a rose garden with all the victims' names. Y