Cecilienhof Palace and the Potsdam Conference
The Three Powers Conference and the Potsdam Agreement of 1945
In summer 1945 world history was made at Cecilienhof Palace in Potsdam. After the end of hostilities in Europe, representatives of the three main allies of World War II met here for top-level discussions on the restructuring of Europe and the future of Germany. Conference participants were the heads of state of the United States, the Soviet Union, and Great Britain – Harry S. Truman, Joseph Stalin, and Winston Churchill (who was replaced by his successor Clement Attlee). The results of the conference officially known as the Three Powers Conference of Berlin were recorded in the Potsdam Agreement and the Potsdam Declaration.
Still today, more than 70 years after the conference, Cecilienhof Palace attracts visitors from around the world as a historic location of geopolitical significance. More than half of its 165,000 annual visitors come from outside Germany.
The permanent exhibition located at the authentic site has been revised, redesigned, and extended to all of the palace interiors. A wealth of historical photographs and diverse information as well as explanatory texts in German and English convey a vivid impression of events at the conference from July 17 to August 2, 1945. The exhibition also examines the historical context, from Hitler’s rise to the devastating war and its end in the Pacific; it was from Potsdam that Truman gave the green light to drop atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
The tour through the furnished palace rooms with their largely unchanged décor addresses the circumstances surrounding the Potsdam Conference on the basis of key topics. These are arranged according to the historical use of the rooms as, for example, the offices of the Soviet, American, and British delegations. In the British office visitors learn interesting facts, for instance, about the elections in Great Britain and the subsequent change of government there. The resolutions of the Potsdam Protocol are presented exactly where they were agreed in 1945 by Churchill (subsequently Attlee), Truman and Stalin: in the conference room with its famous round table, the central feature of the Cecilienhof historical site.
A press review at the conclusion of the tour reviews the media’s extensive coverage of the Potsdam Conference. An audio guide available in 11 languages supplements the exhibition visit with, among other things, original recordings of Churchill, Truman and Stalin.
In addition to the political events, the exhibition also covers the history of the palace’s construction and of its former inhabitants. Information panels show the living circumstances of the crown prince and princess, Wilhelm (1882–1951) and Cecilie (1886–1954) of Prussia, for whom the palace was built, from 1913–17, and who lived at the palace until February 1945.