Gisela Stange experienced the Battle of Berlin up close when she was 16 years old and assigned to the Volkssturm medical service as a Gesundheitsdienstmädel, a member of the League of German Girls trained in first aid. She risked death rescuing and nursing wounded soldiers and assisting in operations.
Gisela Stange was born in Berlin on 14 March 1929. At the age of ten she joined the Hitler Youth (HJ), the Nazi organisation for young people. From 1939 on, all 10-to-18-year-olds were obliged to become members. Away from their families, young people were taught about the Nazi ideology. In January 1945, Gisela Stange completed a first-aid course in the HJ and became a so-called Gesundheitsdienstmädel.
From February 1945 she belonged to the medical service of the German Volkssturm, a military formation in which young people and older men were deployed at the front during the final phase of the war. A few days after 16 April 1945, when the Soviet armed forces began their Berlin offensive, she and other members of the Volkssturm received orders to move towards the city centre. She had to rescue wounded soldiers at risk of her own life. She got as far as the government quarter. From there she fled north through the S and U Bahn tunnels. On her way through the tunnels her head was grazed by a bullet.
She was captured by Soviet soldiers at Seestraße underground station in northwest Berlin and taken to a small factory nearby. Fearing rape, she concealed her long hair, but her disguise was discovered. Soviet soldiers kicked her in the face until several of her teeth had been knocked out, but the intervention of a Soviet officer saved her from being raped. Three days later she was forced along with other prisoners to march eastward out of Berlin. In an unguarded moment she escaped and returned to her family in Berlin.
On 16 April 1945, the Soviet forces started to encircle Berlin in a pincer movement. Five days later first Soviet units entered Berlin from the east and fought their way to the city center. On 2 May, two days after Adolf Hitler committed suicide, all remaining German forces in Berlin were ordered to surrender.
The Deutsches Historisches Museum in Berlin tells the story of 2,000 years of German history. The permanent exhibition comprises around 7,000 historical exponents providing information on people, ideas, events and historical developments in Germany. The main floor area is devoted to the Weimar Republic, the Nazi regime, the post-war period and the history of the two German states from 1949 to the reunification in 1990.
The German-Russian Museum is located at the site of the unconditional surrender of Germany on 8 May 1945 in Berlin-Karlshorst, marking the end of the Second World War in Europe. Today it is a place where two former wartime enemies jointly recall some of their common, albeit very violent history.
The Topography of Terror in Berlin stands on the site of the main organs of Nazi terror between 1933 and 1945, including the Gestapo, the SS leadership, the security services of the SS and the main office of the ‘Reichssicherheitshauptamt’. The main permanent exhibition presents these institutions and the crimes they organised. A second exhibition examines Berlin’s role as the capital of the Third Reich.