Munich is one of the most important cities in Germany and is full of spaces representative of the culture of its people, besides having many legends that take us on a journey through ancient history and also the most recent. But one of the things to see and do in Munich is undoubtedly to remember what happened in World War II, the era of National Socialism, which left its mark on the city and those who live there.
The city wants you to know its history to purge itself of the past and that oblivion does not remain helping reflection. In Munich, tours and excursions abound and many of these provide a knowledge of these spaces that transports you to the past. I recommend some excursions and you can choose the one that best suits you, to combine them with the journey through the beautiful city of Munich.
1. Get to know the resistance at the University of Munich
Besides being one of the main universities in the city, the University of Munich is a place where you can start your guided tour to learn details about World War II. Access to the university is completely free and you can reach it on the Munich subway with the Universität station on lines U3 and U6. This fantastic tour will show you the university resistance movements and you only have to hire the guide who will tell you the story.
On this tour you can learn about the peaceful White Rose movement a group of German students at the University of Munich who denounced the policies of the Nazis; among them the siblings Hans and Sophie Scholl, who were denounced and later executed in 1943. Your guide will try to tell you the stories that this proud institution keeps from this difficult historical moment.
Although there is no organized tour by the institution to visit the university buildings , there are private tours that can guide you through its facilities, which are free access and you have the possibility to visit them at your leisure, to also enjoy the architecture of the site. This is a space to live the history from where the chronology of the brothers and their passage through the political struggle until they were executed is narrated.
Details of interest
Price: about 50 €.
Duration: 2 to 3 hours
Means of transportation: the tour is done on foot - Advantages of this option: it is located in the center of the city - Disadvantages of this option: the university will be in academic activity so it will not always be the most comfortable space for a tour.
2. See the residences where Adolf Hitler stayed in Munich
Munich was not only the epicenter of National Socialism, it was also, along with Bavaria, Hitler's favorite place to stay before and during the war. Get to know in this guided tour the Führer's residence and learn the most personal and everyday aspects of this controversial historical figure in a tour that lasts about two hours and is quite entertaining because the guide narrates the story from a biographical approach about the leader of the Third Reich. The tour can cost approximately 20 €.
From the central station you will meet the guide who will take you from here to all of Hitler's residences. You will start this tour at the first apartment where he lived before the outbreak of the first war at 34 Schleissheimerstrasse. In this narrow building, Hitler lived on the third floor in a room together with Rudolf Häusler, an old friend from the youth who became one of the few eyewitnesses of Hitler's historiography.
To see Hitler's second home in Munich you have to walk to the historic center near the Isar River at 41 Thierschstrasse. This is where Hitler lived from 1920 to 1929, at this stage of his life was when he staged the Munich Putsch, the notorious coup attempt he led.
Prinzregenten Platz 16 is Hitler's last residence and is one of the most important historical sites in Munich on the tour. He lived here during his term of office, on the second floor which now serves as a police station. One of the curiosities of this house is that in 1931 the Chancellor's niece, who was also his mistress, committed suicide here.
Details of interest
Price: about 30 €.
Duration: 2 to 3 hours - Means of transport: walking - Advantages of this option: it is located in the center of the city - Disadvantages of this option: not all residences can be entered
3. Learn about tolerance and hospitality at the Jewish Center
An encounter with the history of the Jewish people, which touches your soul and rescues all the value of their culture in the face of the atrocity lived in World War II, referenced in the streets of Munich. On this tour you will have the opportunity to visit the Jewish Center, a project developed by the city that includes the new main synagogue of the Jewish community, the Jewish Museum of Munich and a community center.
The Jewish Museum of Munich will immerse you in reflection. It is one of the best things to do with children in the city for learning. It was built with the purpose of transmitting Jewish history, culture and art. With its 900 m2, it is a modern construction that evokes the Wailing Wall. On its three floors there are permanent and temporary exhibitions to immerse yourself in the culture of the Jewish people in Munich.
When you leave the museum you will find the Ohel Jakob Synagogue on the same sidewalk. This is Munich' s new main synagogue that was built between 2004 and 2006. The day it opened its doors it was commemorating the 68th anniversary of Kristallnacht, a tragic episode for the Jewish people in a context where the old synagogue was burned and destroyed.
The synagogue has capacity for 550 worshippers and you can see inside. You will marvel at the cubic design of the building made of concrete covered with travertine stone at the bottom. The most impressive feature is the glass roof which, because of its shape, reminds and symbolizes an ohel, a tent characteristic of the nomadic Hebrew desert groups symbolizing Moses' 40-year journey through the desert with the Jewish people.
Finally, you can enter the community center which is intended as a space for public gatherings and cultural connections and has different levels that house youth and cultural centers. It is a place where you can connect with hope, tolerance and Jewish hospitality. And if you want to eat, across the square is the Einstein restaurant, a restaurant with kosher specialties that will lead you to taste the specialties of Jewish cuisine at the end of the tour.
Details of interest
Price: for the museum tickets cost 6 € (adults), 3 € (students), free (under 18). All other sites are free of charge
Duration: 3 hours - Means of transport: walking between the three sites to be visited - Advantages of this option: centrally located, it is close to other important attractions of the city - Disadvantages of this option: the permanent part of the museum exhibits is very small. The synagogue may be at an event for the faithful and thus unavailable.
4. Tour the Marienplatz as a public space of government with a Nazi past
Wondering where the soul of Munich lies? Visit Marienplatz to get to know the heart and center of the city. From this square your guide will tell you about the emblematic concentrations of the Third Reich and the terrible bombings that took place in the center of Munich towards the end of World War II. On this tour you will learn about the sites of the founding of the Nazi movement and the subsequent bombings.
The square went through a period of reconstruction of some of its attractions as a result of the destruction caused by the fighting during World War II, as happened with the Fischbrunnen, the main fountain of the square that was bombed in 1944 and restored 10 years later with the parts of the original figure that remained. Today it is one of the most notorious meeting points of the city and should not be missed on your tour.
Next to the square you will see the old town hall. From there, before the war, the Nazis planned and executed on the night of November 9 the tragic events that led to the event known as the Night of Broken Glass. The site became an administrative entity during the war, to be later reduced almost to ashes by the bombings. Today its use is completely different: you can visit the Toy Museum.
On the other hand, the new neo-Gothic town hall is still the seat of the municipal government. This unique palace was destroyed in 1944 and rebuilt from the original design. If you walk 3 minutes to Munich's most famous brewery, the Hofbräuhaupor at Platzl 9, you can learn the story of how the Führer attempted a coup against the Weimar Republic and how this site was key to the founding of the National Socialist German Workers' Party.
If you walk one street south from the entrance, you will come to the people's market. If you have some time, take advantage of it and visit the Viktualienmarkt in Munich, a site that has been settled since the 19th century and survived the war. You can take advantage of your visit to the square and start your gastronomic tour of Munich with a hot bretzel and a cold beer to refresh your mouth after the tour.
Price: about 50 €, although if you are going to enter the Toy Museum the entrance fee is between 4 and 6 €.
Duration: 2 to 3 hours
Means of transport: subway, bus and S-Bahn to get there, walking as you go along.
Advantages of this option: some of the most emblematic monuments of Munich are concentrated in the same space.
Disadvantages of this option: it is a more contemplative tour that will require an expert guide.
5. Recognizing the horror of the Dachau concentration camps
Along with Auschwitz-Birkenau, the Dachau concentration camp is among the most distinctive of the genocide committed by the Nazis during the World War II years. The tour of the concentration camp will allow you to know in detail the spaces and stories that were lived there, remembering the more than 200,000 prisoners who were there. The tour lasts approximately 2 hours and a half and access is not allowed to children under 13 years old.
If you are wondering how to visit the concentration camps of Dachau, you should know that this site is located 13 km outside the city of Munich, so it will be necessary to take a train to Dachau and then a bus to Saubachsiedlung. However, there are tours with direct transfer. Admission to the sites is free and the excursion costs around 22-28 €.
Once in the concentration camp you can visit the museum, the interpretation center, the barracks and the crematoria. The best way to visit the place is accompanied by a specialized guide, who will narrate and put in context the events that took place in each space during the 12 years it was in operation.
Dachau was the first concentration camp and served as a model for those that were built later. In the 12 years of the concentration camp's activity, 200,000 people were imprisoned and 41,500 prisoners were killed. On this tour you will learn about the tragic history of this death factory and how on April 29, 1945 American troops arrived to liberate the survivors.
Details of interest
Price: between 3 and 5 €, but the tour can be between 22 and 28 €.
Duration: 2.5 to 3 hours - Means of transport: suburban train to Dachau on line S2. Afterwards you can take bus 726 in the direction of Saubachsiedlung - Advantages of this option: you get to know first hand the Jewish history in Munich - Disadvantages of this option: you will have to move to the outskirts of the city
6. Walk through the Eagle's Nest, Hitler's residence in the Bavarian Alps
On the occasion of his 50th birthday, the National Socialist Party gave Adolf Hitler The Eagle's Nest, an alpine chalet in the middle of Kehlstein Mountain with spectacular views of the mountains and valleys in the Bavarian Alps, very close to the border of Germany and Austria, on the outskirts of Munich. Today you can visit this residence by hiring a tour to Obersalzberg, where the tour begins. The entrance fee to the residence can reach 60 €, but children under 4 years old can enter for free.
To enter this residence you can use an elevator that rises to reach the last 124 meters and crosses the rock inside. Once you reach the top you will be 1834 meters high and you can enjoy the panoramic view from the outside viewpoints of the chalet. In addition, you can see the exhibition inside of original possessions that passed through Hitler's hands during World War II.
Also on this site is the Eagle's Nest Documentation Center, a museum on the history of the Third Reich. Because of the proximity, you can take advantage of this tour and escape to Salzburg on tours departing from Munich and return to the city at the end of the day.
Details of interest
Price: for adults it can cost up to 60 €, children under 4 years old can enter for free.
Duration: 5 to 8 hours
Means of transport: bus.
Advantages of this option: you can get to know a part of the Bavarian Alps in a historical tour.
Disadvantages of this option: the site is very popular with tourists so you may have to wait.
Tips for taking a World War II tour in Munich
If you are going on World War II tours in Munich, I recommend you bring comfortable clothes and shoes, sunscreen, a hat to protect you from the sun and plenty of water, as the tours involve walking for several hours and several of them outdoors.
Meals are not usually included in the tours, so I recommend you bring money ready for it or have nuts so you have a source of calories in your backpack. In addition, you can organize and locate the possible places to stop for lunch according to the preference of your travel group or your personal preferences.
Since most of the sites have historical and architectural relevance and are excellently preserved, I recommend you not to forget to bring your camera to immortalize your visit to each of the sites of the Munich city tour.
Why is it advisable to take a tour in Munich?
Munich is a city with multiple buildings and representative spaces to get to know the city of the birth of the Third Reich in the historical sense, from the concentration camps to the Nazi architecture of the government buildings and public meetings. In addition, Munich can be a central point from where you can move to places you never imagined to know as a visit to Rothenburg from Munich or visit the beautiful village of Berchtesgaden.
On the other hand, in Munich you have a sample of an older Germany, architecture and Gothic, neo-Gothic and even medieval decorations that you can know by visiting the Neuschwanstein Castle. The churches are spaces that guard treasures as monuments and priceless works, such as those found in Marienplatz and around the city center of Munich.
It is a city fully open to tourism, so there is availability to choose from a variety of excellent tours that depart from here, with the amenities and tours that best suit what you want to know. It would be convenient if you decide to use one of the best tourist buses to get an overview of the city. If you want to get closer to the history of Munich, in every corner you will find a little piece to discover of the city, its people and its culture.