Formerly the business of jeweller Leopold Dahmen, the EL-DE Haus (which takes its name from his initials) became one of Cologne’s most notorious and feared addresses during WWII. Its basement was used to host a prison and torture chambers; despite heavy bombing campaigns, it survived the city’s many air raids. Today, it’s home to the NS-Documentation Center, an award-winning museum that has been housed in the building since 1988. It memorializes Nazi victims across wide-ranging exhibitions and is a major research center.
Things to know before you go
- Audio guides, available for a small fee in eight languages, offer an accessible way to explore the museum’s permanent exhibition.
- The building’s basement prison is now a moving memorial site to Nazi victims; the cells feature over 1,300 inscriptions and drawings on the walls, which have been preserved.
- Temporary exhibitions are held as a supplement to the permanent collection, and address local and national perspectives on the Nazi era.
- Free admission is granted to children aged 0–6; free entry is also offered on the first Thursday of every month.
- Free guided tours are offered once per month; it’s also possible to pre-book guided tours in English, French, Italian, Polish and Spanish.
- Unfortunately, due to its heritage architecture, the EL-DE Haus is not accessible to wheelchair users.
How to get there
The EL-DE Haus is conveniently located in central Cologne. To reach the EL-DE Haus by public transportation, take the 3, 4, 5, 16, 18, or E trams to Köln Appellhofplatz station. The EL-DE Haus is also a short walk from the Cologne Central Station (Köln Hauptbahnhof), which is served by numerous mainline trains as well as the 5, 16, 18, and E trams. Alternatively, travel by car, by bike, or on foot.
When to get there
The EL-DE Haus is open from 10am–6pm Tuesday–Friday, and from 11am–6pm Saturday–Sunday (and on public holidays). It has special late-opening hours until 10pm on the first Thursday of every month.
Events at the EL-DE Haus
The EL-DE Haus hosts a busy events calendar throughout the year, and it’s worth researching its schedule before you travel. Offerings range from readings and lectures to workshops and cultural events.