With its rear doors opening onto Munich’s most famous cathedral, the Frauenkirche, Ettstraße Police Station is situated in the very centre of the city. From the 1920s, as Nazism was beginning to spread throughout Germany, this station earned the name ‘Mörderzentrale’, literally translating as ‘murder headquarters’. The cause of such a morbid nickname can be attributed to Ernst Pöhner, who was station president from 1919 to 1921. Pöhner’s abuse of power allowed him to transform Munich into a focal point for right-wing extremism and earned him a specific reference in Hitler’s Mein Kampf. Pöhner’s support of the Führer led him to be a central figure in the organisation of the Munich Putsch in 1923, during which Hitler named him Prime Minister of Bavaria. He could never live up to this title, however, as the failure of the Putsch led to his — and Hitler‘s — arrest.
Despite Pöhner’s arrest, his violent legacy was upheld under the later president of the station, Heinrich Himmler. From this point on, Ettstraße Police Station was renowned as a place of terror throughout Germany. Himmler strengthened the ties between the Police, the Schutzstaffel (SS) and Sturmabteilung (SA) to relentlessly and viciously oppress all enemies of the state. In March 1933 alone there were 5000 political arrests in Munich, and in the same month Himmler used his presidency at the Ettstraße Police Station to sanction the establishment of the first concentration camp in Dachau, just outside Munich. Thereafter, Himmler continued to expand his powers of enforcement beyond the SS; becoming Chief of German police, Minister for the Interior, Reichsleiter — second highest office of the Nazi party, succeeded only by Hitler himself — and Commander of the Replacement Army. He was the prime architect of the Holocaust, and responsible for the deaths of eleven to fourteen million people.
Over 90 years later, this building continues to function as the Munich Police Headquarters.