11 Historical WW2 Sites in Hamburg

Updated on February 25, 2024  

ww2 sites hamburg

In this blog post, we'll delve into the historical significance of World War II sites in Hamburg. From bunkers to memorials, Hamburg bears witness to a crucial chapter in history.

Join us as we explore the remnants of WW2 sites in Hamburg and reflect on the city's wartime past. We also include other historical sites pre-WW2.

Top WW2 Sites in Hamburg

St. Nikolai Memorial

St. Nikolai Memorial stands tall in Hamburg, a silent witness to the city's past. This site was once a magnificent Gothic Revival cathedral and proudly held the title of the world's tallest building between 1874 and 1876. [1]

Today, its ruins are a powerful reminder of the wars that shook its grounds.

st-nikolai-church-and-memorial

Step into St. Nikolai Memorial and you'll find more than just remnants of architecture; it’s now home to a museum within its crypt. Here, exhibits tell painful stories of World War II and the intense air war over Hamburg, aiming to educate visitors about the consequences of conflict.

The memorial doesn't only show history—it feels like a lesson about peace right at your fingertips.

Feldstrasse Bunker St. Pauli

The Feldstrasse Bunker in St. Pauli, or Flakturm IV, is a towering reminder of Hamburg's past during World War II. Built by the Nazis to protect against air raids, this massive structure still stands today as a piece of history frozen in time.

People can see how thick walls and dark rooms were part of life back then.

feldstrasse-bunker

Now, this historical site is getting a new purpose. Plans are in place to change the bunker into a hotel with luxury rooms and create a public garden on its roof. This shows how Hamburg is keeping its history alive while also moving forward.

Ohlsdorf Cemetery

Ohlsdorf Cemetery in Hamburg is the largest rural cemetery globally, covering 391 hectares with over 1.5 million burials across 280,000 sites. [2]

It holds significant historical importance related to World War II as it contains a memorial for the victims of the devastating 1943 Hamburg bombing between July 25th and August 3rd.

cemetery

The cemetery is also home to a key World War II site – the Hamburg Commonwealth War Graves Commission Cemetery.

Surrounded by botanical beauty, this educational space offers cultural, social, and political insights. Notably, it's a site of historic headstones and family mausoleums that reflect the city's history.

Neuengamme Concentration Camp Memorial

The Neuengamme concentration camp was established in 1938 near the village of Neuengamme in Hamburg. It served as a subcamp of the Sachsenhausen concentration camp and is now situated 15 km southeast of Hamburg's center.

The site stands as a solemn memorial where over 100,000 people, including forced laborers, Jews, and political prisoners, lost their lives during World War II.

neuengamme-concentration-camp-memorial hamburg ww2 sites

Today, the Neuengamme Concentration Camp Memorial serves as a poignant reminder of the atrocities committed during this dark chapter in history.

Visiting this site provides an opportunity to honor and remember those who perished here and to reflect on the profound impact of war on humanity.

Memorial 76th Infantry Regiment

The Memorial 76th Infantry Regiment in Hamburg dates back to 1936 and features the distinctive Nazi architectural style. It honors the battles and soldiers of the 76th Infantry Regiment during World War II. [3]

The marble sculpture "Counter-memorial to the '76th Monument'" stands as a tribute to approximately 7,000 prisoners from the Neuengamme concentration camp. This historical site has been a subject of debate due to its portrayal of war and the Nazi regime.

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

Nevertheless, it remains a significant destination for those interested in WWII history and battlefield tours in Hamburg.

Italian War Graves Hamburg-Öjendorf

The Italian war cemetery Hamburg-Öjendorf is in the Öjendorf Cemetery, covering nearly 100 hectares. It's the central resting place for 5,849 Italians from north-western Italy.

The cemetery also holds the graves of Italian soldiers from World War II and Vietnamese Boat People who perished in the 1970s.

This site serves as a crucial historical marker, honoring those who lost their lives during significant conflicts.

It stands as a testament to remembrance and respect for those who made sacrifices during times of strife, providing visitors with an opportunity for reflection and understanding of this poignant period in history.

Other Historical Sites in Hamburg

Old Elbe Tunnel

The Old Elbe Tunnel, also known as the St. Pauli Elbtunnel, is an impressive pedestrian and vehicle tunnel in Hamburg, Germany. It first opened in 1911 and spans a remarkable length of 426 meters (1,398 feet), reaching a depth of 24 meters. [4]

Alter Elbtunnel photo

This historical marvel connects St. Pauli to the southern banks of the Elbe River and stands as a testament to outstanding German civil engineering. Used by city-dwellers for transportation and exploration since its opening, it has become a must-see attraction for tourists seeking to soak up its historical significance.

Visitors today can delve into the tunnel's rich history while admiring its exceptional engineering prowess from the 1970s when it was opened specifically for tourism.

As you explore this gem, take note of how it remains an essential link between different parts of Hamburg’s bustling waterfront area - making your visit not only educational but also impactful in understanding the city's connectivity.

Speicherstadt

The Speicherstadt in Hamburg is a massive warehouse district, spanning 260,000 square meters. Its canals and neo-Gothic architecture made it a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The area is famous for its large waterfront brick buildings known as the "City of Warehouses.".

Speicherstadt photo

This historic site offers an opportunity to stroll along the canals, admire graffiti bridges, and marvel at the remarkable architecture - it's popular among both tourists and locals.

Soak up the atmosphere with a leisurely wander and take in the grandeur of this unique district.

Chilehaus

The Chilehaus is a ten-story office building in Hamburg, Germany. It's made of 4.8 million grey bricks and is part of the Kontorhaus District. This historic building showcases Brick Expressionism from the 1920s and it's recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

chilehaus photo

With its rich history, the Chilehaus stands as a reminder of Hamburg’s significance during World War II and provides insight into the city's past.

Moreover, this unique structure is an integral part of not only Hamburg’s historical architecture but also its tourist attractions.

Hamburg Rathaus (City Hall)

The Hamburg Rathaus stands as the city's government hub, housing the parliament and senate. Constructed from 1886 to 1897, it still operates as the office of the First Mayor and a meeting place for officials.

hamburg city hall

Its neo-Renaissance architecture makes it a significant historical landmark and draws tourists. Situated in the city center on Rathausmarkt Square, this site is easily accessible to visitors exploring nearby historical attractions.

This grand building serves as an ideal starting point for delving into Hamburg's rich history during your visit. With its ornate design and political significance, it offers a fascinating glimpse into the city's past and present governance.

St. Michael's Church (Michel)

St. Michael's Church, or "Michel," is a splendid Hanseatic Protestant baroque church located in Hamburg's southern new town, close to the port and Landungsbrücken.

The church stands out as one of the most iconic landmarks in the city, known for its stunning bell tower providing panoramic views over Hamburg.

st michael church hamburg

Its distinguished baroque architecture ranks it among northern Germany's most important churches, attracting visitors interested in exploring maritime history and cultural charms.

The impressive St. Michael's Church is a significant historical site, drawing tourists due to its rich heritage and standout architectural features that set it apart as an essential stop for history enthusiasts seeking to unravel Hamburg's past.

Hamburg Dungeon

The Hamburg Dungeon is a museum that shows the history of Hamburg in a fun way. It talks about things like medieval torture. There are 11 interactive shows and over 600 years of history.

The museum has cool theming and special effects, making it an entertaining experience with true city history.

The Hamburg Dungeon offers a black comedy journey through the dark side of Hamburg's past. It's full of atmosphere and entertainment while being based on real city events.

This makes it an interesting place to learn about the city's history in an engaging and unique way that you won't find elsewhere.

Conclusion: Historical Sites in Hamburg

Hamburg's historical WW2 sites offer a poignant journey into the city's past, echoing the resilience of its people. The remnants of air-raid shelters and war memorials stand testament to the indelible mark left by World War II. Beyond commemorating the struggles, exploring these sites fosters a deeper understanding of the city's evolution.

As you weave through the historic streets, remember that Hamburg's present vitality emerged from the shadows of its wartime history. Whether you're a history enthusiast or a casual traveler, these sites add a layer of significance to the myriad things to do in Hamburg, providing a nuanced perspective on the city's rich and complex narrative.

Key Takeaways

  • Hamburg has important World War II sites like St. Nikolai Memorial and Neuengamme Concentration Camp to visit.
  • Some war buildings, like Flakturm IV and the Feldstrasse Bunker, are being changed into hotels and gardens.
  • Ohlsdorf Cemetery is very large and has graves from World War II; it teaches us about the city's history during the war.
  • Besides war sites, there are other historical places in Hamburg like the Old Elbe Tunnel, Speicherstadt district, and Hamburg Rathaus worth seeing.
  • Visiting these locations can help you learn a lot about what happened in Hamburg during World War II.

References:

1: The History of the World's Tallest Buildings | Innovation| Smithsonian Magazine, retrieved from https://www.smithsonianmag.com/innovation/race-to-the-sky-the-worlds-tallest-buildings-180983131/
2: Ohlsdorf Cemetery, Hamburg, Germany - SpottingHistory, retrived from https://www.spottinghistory.com/view/6281/ohlsdorf-cemetery/
3: Memorial 76th Infantry Regiment - Hamburg - TracesOfWar.com, retrived from https://www.tracesofwar.com/sights/5567/Memorial-76th-Infantry-Regiment.htm
4: Old Elb Tunnel, Hamburg, retrived from https://www.gpsmycity.com/attractions/old-elb-tunnel-27483.html

About the Author

Stephan Drescher, founder of germanytravel.blog, is a German travel expert and insider, providing trusted tips and advice for a perfect trip to Germany. Born & bred German.