NS-Documentation Centre

Cologne's National Socialism Documentation Centre was founded by a resolution passed by the Cologne city council on December 1979 and has become the largest regional memorial site in the whole of Germany for the victims of the Nazis. Since 1988, it has been housed in "EL-DE Haus", the EL-DE building, named after the initials of its owner, Catholic businessman Leopold Dahmen. This building was the headquarters of the Cologne Gestapo (secret police) between December 1935 and March 1945. In the final months of the war, several hundred people, most of them foreign forced labourers were murdered in the courtyard of the building. With a touch of historical irony, the EL-DE building remained largely unaffected by the ravages of the war.

The NS Documentation Centre (NS-DOC) is dedicated to the commemoration of the victims of the Nazi regime, as well as research and educational work about Cologne's history during the Nazi era. The former Gestapo prison was opened as a memorial site on December 1981. Some 1,800 inscriptions and drawings by prisoners have sur-vived on the walls of the ten cells. The Gestapo prison memorial site is one of the best preserved prisons from the Nazi era, representing an historical asset of national and European importance. Since June 1997, the permanent exhibition in the EL-DE building has presented political, social and community life in "Cologne During the Nazi Era."

This exhibitions addresses themes such as the seizure and machinery of power, propaganda and the "ethnic community," everyday life, youth culture, religion, racism, the genocide of Cologne's Jews and its Sinti and Roma population, and opposition, resistance, war and society during the war. In addition, temporary exhibitions present local and national aspects of the Nazi regime. The centre also stages more than 130 events each year. The museum's educational department and the Information and Education Association against Right-wing Extremism (ibs) also run educational and teaching programmes.

The NS Documentation Centre sees itself as an important research centre. This is supported by the library, with literature on Cologne under the Nazis, general Nazi history and right-wing extremism. It is also the task of the documentation department, with its extensive collections of photographs, posters, artifacts, documents and witness statements, which are organized into databases and made accessible. Numerous research projects deal with Jewish history, contemporary witness statements and interviews, forced labor, the police, youth culture, the press, clubs and organizations, various victim groups and commemorative activities, such as the Cologne artist Gunter Demnig's project "Stolpersteine" (Tripping Stones). Among the major current research projects are the history of the Holocaust, resistance, the Gestapo, the Nazi system of Gauleiter (district overseers), urban planning, public health policies and the Hitler Youth movement. The results of the research projects are published in a series of writings in book form, a workbook series, a series by the Information and Education Association, and the center's Internet page.


public guided tours (in German only)

Do. 03.01.
18:30 Uhr

Gedenkstätte Gestapogefängnis und Dauerausstellung "Köln im Nationalsozialismus"

Für: Erwachsene | Von: Museumsdienst Köln | Mit: Oliver Meißner | Treffpunkt: Kasse | Teilnahme: kostenlos | zzgl. Eintritt

Sa. 05.01.
14:00 Uhr

Gedenkstätte Gestapogefängnis und Dauerausstellung "Köln im Nationalsozialismus"

Für: Erwachsene | Von: Museumsdienst Köln | Mit: Oliver Meißner | Treffpunkt: Kasse | Teilnahme: kostenlos | zzgl. Eintritt

Fr. 18.01.
15:00 Uhr

Gedenkstätte Gestapogefängnis und Dauerausstellung "Köln im Nationalsozialismus"

Für: Erwachsene | Von: Museumsdienst Köln | Mit: Oliver Meißner | Treffpunkt: Kasse | Teilnahme: kostenlos | zzgl. Eintritt


acitivities (in German only)

So. 27.01.
15:00 Uhr

Exkursion | NS-Dokumentationszentrum

Das jüdische Köln - Vom "Jüddespidohl" durch das jüdische Ehrenfeld

Für: Erwachsene | Von: Museumsdienst Köln | Mit: Aaron Knappstein | Treffpunkt: Wohlfahrtszentrum Ottostr. 85 (Eingang Nussbaumer Str.) Köln-Ehrenfeld | Preis: € 8,00

So. 24.02.
15:00 Uhr

Exkursion | NS-Dokumentationszentrum

Das jüdische Köln - jüdischer Friedhof Bocklemünd

Für: Erwachsene | Von: Museumsdienst Köln | Mit: Aaron Knappstein | Treffpunkt: Vor dem Eingang des jüdischen Friedhofs Bocklemünd (Haltestelle Bocklemünd)


Guided tours can be booked for groups and are available in a variety of languages.


Guided tour: Basic guided tour

This guided tour is suitable from year 6 of all types of school.

The tour includes a visit to the memorial, the history of the EL-DE-Haus as well as central topics on NS ideology and political rule, such as "violence and fascination", "persecution and resistance" and "inclusion and exclusion". 

Duration: 60 mins

Max. group size: 25. Due to restricted space in the memorial the number of visitors per group is limited to 20. Larger groups will be split up and can normally join guided tours simultaneously.

Tuesday to Friday: 30 € for school classes per group; 50 € plus admission for students; 75 € plus admission for adults.
Supplement: weekends/foreign language tour: 10 € each

Tours can be booked hourly from 9.30 am.    


Guided tour: What happened at the EL-DE-Haus? Guided tour for families

This tour has been specially designed for families with children from 10 years of age.

A child-friendly introductory talk prepares visitors for the tour of the Gestapo-prison memorial. The talk includes information on the history of the EL-DE-Haus, the operational structure of the Gestapo (secret police) and the different groups of prisoners. The graffiti in the prison tract tell the story of their fate.  


current Exhibition

Luther’s words are ubiquitous – Martin Luther during the era of National Socialism

November 16, 2018 to February 24, 2019

What was the attitude of the National Socialists towards religion and the church – and especially towards Martin Luther? What was the relationship of Christians in Germany with Luther and his heritage during the Nazi era? How did the relationship between state and church developed in these twelve years? This exhibition endeavours to answer these questions.

80 years ago – the Pogrom in Cologne

November 6, 2018 to January 6, 2019

On 9 November, 80 years ago, synagogues were set on fire, Jewish flats and houses plundered and shops destroyed – in Cologne as in other cities. In remembrance of the Pogrom Night, a special installation traces the development of the racial exclusion of Jews leading up to the Holocaust. A comprehensive collection from a Cologne Family is representative of the fate suffered by Jews in Cologne. A commemorative installation of the NS-Documentation Centre and the City of Cologne.



Appellhofplatz 23-25
50667 Köln
T +49 221 221 26332
F +49 221 221 25512

Opening hours

Tue to Fri 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Sat and Sun 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Every 1st Thu of each month: 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.
closed on Mondays

carnival 2019:
closed 28 February, 3 and 4 March, open 1, 2 and 5 March!



Tickets are valid for one day.

Permanent collection
Adults: 4,50 €
Concession: 2,00 €

Some exhibitions may carry a separate charge.

Free admission for children up to 6 years, for Cologne residents up to 18 years, students (incl. 2 teachers per group), holders of the KölnPass, Cologne residents on their birthday

Free admission to the permanent collection on the 1st Thu of each month (except public holidays): for Cologne residents.


Audio guides in: German, English, French, Spanish, Polish and Russian. € 2


Access to the rooms of the venue is restricted for disabled visitors.

Public transport

Public transport
rail service, local trains (S-Bahn): "Hauptbahnhof" (10 Min walk)
underground: "Appellhofplatz"
Car Parks
Am Dom / DuMont-Carré