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World War II history walking tour

Spend a morning exploring Munich’s turbulent years during the Nazi regime with a walking tour that includes many of the most important sites from the era. Munich became a Nazi stronghold after the group took power in 1933, with Nazis referring to the city as Hauptstadt de Bewegung, or ‘Capital of the Movement’.

Your tour will take you past the square used for Nazi rallies and book burnings, the former site of the Nazi national headquarters, the site of Hitler’s failed 1923 coup d’etat, the nondescript lane used by those who wanted to avoid saluting Nazi memorials and one of the many memorials to the White Rose group.

Most of the buildings used by Nazis were either destroyed during air raids or after the war by Allied troops. However, in their place sprung memorials dedicated to those who lost their lives during the war and in remembrance of groups that opposed the Nazis.

Your walking tour will start at your hotel, where you’ll meet your private guide for the half-day together. You’ll head to Königsplatz, or King’s Square, the neoclassical square with large, impressive buildings that lent themselves to the Nazi party’s desire for grandeur and power.

The square was a convenient place for rallies and book burnings, as the national headquarters was located nearby. Nazis built two neo-Greek temples to enshrine the 16 bodies of those killed in the 1923 Beer Hall Putsch who they considered martyrs. US forces destroyed the temples in 1947 as part of denazification, however the foundation platforms still remain. The Führerbau building built by the Nazis in the square is still standing and is now a music and theatre school.

You’ll then walk to the nearby NS Dokuzentrum, a museum on the site of the former national Nazi headquarters. The original building was destroyed by air raids, and the new structure is a place for education and remembrance. The NS Dokuzentrum is filled with historical documents and photographs chronicling the rise and history of Nazism in Munich, the city’s role in the regime and the difficulties of confronting these truths post-war.

Your guide will bring you to Odeonsplatz, the site of a Hitler’s failed coup d’etat in 1923. The Nazi march ended in a gunfight, in which four state police officers and 16 Nazis were killed, and the party held a memorial march through the square every year. You’ll also see the Feldherrnhalle building, a monumental loggia that served as the memorial for the slain Nazis.

The Feldherrnhalle was where new SS recruits took their oath of loyalty to Hitler. Passers-by were expected to Nazi salute the building when they walked past, which means that some avoided crossing in front of it altogether. You’ll see the meandering cobblestone line marking the Viscardigasse, the lane used by those who opposed Nazism and did not want to salute the building.

Lastly, you’ll visit Hofgarten, a manicured garden in the heart of Munich. Here is where you’ll find one of the many memorials to the White Rose group, a peaceful university-student-led opposition group that saw its leaders executed by the Nazis.

Your tour will end in the middle of Munich.

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