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. 01.10.
18:30 Uhr

Gedenkstätte Gestapogefängnis und Dauerausstellung "Köln im Nationalsozialismus"

Für: Erwachsene | Von: Museumsdienst Köln | Mit: Oliver Meißner | Treffpunkt: Kasse | Teilnahme: kostenlos | Anmeldung bis: 27.09.2020

Sa. 03.10.
14:00 Uhr

Gedenkstätte Gestapogefängnis und Dauerausstellung "Köln im Nationalsozialismus"

Für: Erwachsene | Von: Museumsdienst Köln | Mit: Oliver Meißner | Treffpunkt: Kasse | Teilnahme: kostenlos | zzgl. Eintritt | Anmeldung bis: 29.09.2020

So. 04.10.
14:00 Uhr

Das Reichsarbeitsministerium 1933-1945. Beamte im Dienst des Nationalsozialismus

Für: Erwachsene | Von: Museumsdienst Köln | Mit: Oliver Meißner | Treffpunkt: Foyer | Preis: € 2,00 | zzgl. Eintritt | Anmeldung bis: 29.09.2020 | Rahmenprogramm zu: „Das Reichsarbeitsministerium 1933-1945. Beamte im Dienst des Nationalsozialismus“, 21.08.2020 - 25.10.2020


Dieser Kurs ist ausgebucht. Wir können Sie jedoch auf eine Warteliste setzen.


acitivities (in German only)

Do. 01.10.
19:00 Uhr

Lesung | NS-Dokumentationszentrum

Leben und Tod in der Epoche des Holocaust in der Ukraine

Für: Erwachsene | Von: NS-Dokumentationszentrum | Mit: Tatiana Dettmer | Treffpunkt: EL-DE-Haus | Preis: € 4,50 | ermäßigt: € 2,00

Do. 08.10.
19:00 Uhr

Lesung | NS-Dokumentationszentrum

Die Familie Ganz und die Lengfeld’sche Buchhandlung. Lebensgeschichten einer jüdischen Buchhändlerfamilie

Für: Alle | Von: NS-Dokumentationszentrum | Treffpunkt: EL-DE-Haus | Preis: € 4,50 | ermäßigt: € 2,00


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


Guided tour: Of Navajos and Edelweiss Pirates – a guided tour of the Ehrenfeld district

This tour targets school children from year 8 with some background knowledge of the NS period.

The tour introduces students to the youth groups persecuted by the Nazi regime which were known as „Navajos“ and later as „Edelweiss Pirates“ at their places of activity. The duration of the tour of the district is 75 minutes and is followed by a visit to the EL-DE-Haus where the focus is on the traces that these non-conformist youth groups left there.

Duration: 2 hours
Max. group size: 25
60 € for school classes, 100 € plus admission for students, 150 plus admission for adults
Supplement: weekends/foreign language tour: 10 € each

The tour can be booked for several groups at a time. 

NB: meeting point: bus/tram stop „Könerstr.“ in front of St. Joseph’s church. Transport tickets are not included in the tour.


current Exhibition

The Reich Ministry of Labour 1933 – 1945. Civil servants in the Nazi regime

August 21, 2020 to October 25, 2020

This exhibition explores the history of the Reich Ministry of Labour during the Nazi period and demonstrates to what extent this ministry – previously usually categorised as without influence – supported the Nazi regime. In six chapters, the structure and staff of the Reich Ministry of Labour are presented, as are its main areas of activity – from retirement insurance and employment laws to the organisation of forced labour.


Some were our neighbours: perpetrators, fellow-travellers and insurgents

November 13, 2020 to February 28, 2021

This exhibition, organised by the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, asks a vital question: why was the Holocaust possible? The roles of the elites and leading figures within the Nazi regime certainly played a central part, but the collaboration of local authorities and politicians as well as the civil service also played an important part.

Divided Memories 1940 – 1950. Between History and Experience

March 19, 2021 to May 24, 2021

DE Der totale Krieg, die Massenmobilisierung, die fremde Besatzung, Widerstand, Bürgerkrieg, Genozid – eine ungeheure humanistische Katastrophe. Die Ausstellung behandelt einen der bedeutendsten Zeitabschnitte in der Geschichte Griechenlands und darüber hinaus. Sie zeigt kulturelle und künstlerische Auseinandersetzungen dieser Zeit, die das Leben des Landes bis heute bestimmt.



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


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