The Topography of Terror will serve as a memorial and education centre after causing problems for Berliners for years.
Destroyed during the war, the site was directly on the route of the Berlin Wall, and attempts since 1990 to create a suitable public exhibition and commemoration of the people tortured and sometimes killed in the cellars, was badgered by arguments about how to do it, and who should fund it.
For years there was little more than a line of exhibition boards along one wall, displaying information about what happened there.
A design for a documentation centre was agreed upon and begun, but had to be torn down amid huge embarrassment, after costs spiralled out of reach of the city government.
The €19 million building being topped out on Monday and set to be completed in a year, is being financed by the city and the federal government. It has been designed to draw visitors in from all sides, said director of the Topography Foundation, Andreas Nachama.
“The building will be open on all sides, so that visitors can see the former aviation ministry, and the current finance ministry, and the Wilhelmstrasse as the centre of the Nazi state,” he said.
“In the future one will not just say that this is where it all stemmed from, the visitors will be able to see it too.”
The building will include a tour around the grounds and cellars of the former Prince Albrecht Palace, which the Gestapo and SS leadership used as their headquarters. More than 15,000 people were tortured in the cells underground.